Actions

Work Header

Suffocation

Chapter Text

The truth of the matter was, it wasn’t love at first sight to Keith. When he first saw Lance, he felt nothing. Not even annoyance, though that quickly followed. He was just meeting another person who would probably fade into the crowd of faces.

But rather than fade, Lance slowly took up the crowd, worming his way in as quiet as a mouse while simultaneously bursting in at unexpected at angles. It was a two way attack that Keith never stood a chance against, and before he knew it, his face seemed to be the only one that mattered in that crowd.

Similar to how Lance had become something precious to him, he wanted to become what Lance needed, whether it was his protector, his lover, his friend and his brother- he would be whatever Lance requested.

It was an odd realization, coming to terms with that thought, but he wouldn’t change it.

Of course, he preferred to be the lover in that list of options and was lucky that Lance felt the same.

Love had never interested him before now.

It was just something others did, and to him, it was a waste of time and energy.

Till Lance.

He’s found himself saying that a lot lately, doing things he never normally would have after meeting him and growing close to him.

He’s discovered sides of himself he considered impossible for him to have. He wanted to be in Lance’s life and follow him through it till they grew old.

He wanted to go adventures and- heck, he wanted to do more than piloting in his future.

He didn’t want to go back to Earth and live alone again. After everything that happened, he forgot what it was like to live in solitude and not with Lance.

He’d lose his mind if he even tried to go back to that life.

Stranded on an unknown planet for 7 months had been hard, with a lot of struggles.

Lance made it worth it.

Then the team showed up and found them, and he thought he had it all. He didn’t want to be the loner anymore.

After everything, he wanted to try and be a better friend. Perhaps try and sit down and talk with Hunk about cooking or with Pidge and her inventions.

Get to know Coran and Allura a bit more and really tell Shiro how much he relied on him as a kid- and still did now.

But most importantly, he wanted to show them all how precious Lance had grown to him. It was embarrassing to say the least, but he was proud when he finally told them how he loved the goofy Blue paladin.

He thought he had finally found his place in this messed up galaxy- somewhere he could belong and be loved.

He felt so close to it too- like he had just made his way to the finish line. So close, but not quite there.

Allura made sure of that when she jabbed an accusing finger at them and screeched at the announcement of their love.

She was angry with them- furious that Keith would declare he loved the Blue paladin.

Was it so wrong to say he loved Lance? Or to be happy that Lance loved him?

In the end, it came down to this.

“Relationships between paladins are forbidden!”

Those few words were enough to make his blood run cold. He couldn’t fathom them. It just felt too wrong to be true.

Beside him, clinging to his hand like a lifeline, Lance shook his head, “W-What?”

“A relationship between paladin’s has been forbidden since I was a child!” Allura’s tone is enough to make Lance’s knees buckle, threatening to give out on him. Keith tightens his grip to hold him steady, his throat going dry

“Huh?” Lance croaked. “W-Why? That isn’t- This isn’t a problem, Allura,”

“It is!” she barked.

Just as shocked at her outburst, surprised she was so mad, Shiro stepped forward, “Lets calm down,” he offers, turning to look at Keith and lance with an exasperated look, “How did this happen?”

“How did it happen?” Keith repeats him, not understanding the question, “It just- It just did,” he shrugs. How else do you explain falling in love with someone? There was no choice to it because it just happened- at least, that was how it went with other people, right?

Of course, Keith had never fallen in love before, so he assumed there was no means to it. It just happened out of the blue as far as he could tell.

But here everyone was, looking at them like they should have some sort of explanation.
“We just- we spent time together?” Lance mumbled, “We got close and, you know… Keith is cute,”

“Oh jeez,” Pidge made a little face, definitely not expecting Lance to announce that, “Don’t say that,”

“Why??” he gawks at her. 

“Because it is weird! You two- you just- you hated each other,” she couldn't wrap her mind around it.

Allura, regardless of their reasons, seemed to be lost in her anger, “You two need to break apart. We can’t have this in the team. Voltron’s balance would be thrown into a ballistic state!”

What exactly kind of state was she expecting? They had just gotten back, so it wasn’t like they were able to form Voltron anyway. Being together didn’t mean they weren’t going to be able to do it anymore.

“We can’t just do that, Allura,” Keith tells her.

Lance looked to his friends, hoping they would agree that this was crazy… but they didn’t. They looked too shocked to do anything, “Hunk?’ Lance turns to him, desperate.

Hunk tenses, the blood draining from his face, “I… I don’t know,” he whispers weakly, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you two are… Are a couple,” he admits. “It’s shocking.”

“Yeah,” Pidge agrees, eyeing them cautiously, “You two hated each other- like, loathed each other.”

“We weren’t that bad,” Lance disagrees.

“Oh yeah, sure you two got together sometimes… sometimes,” Pidge folds her arms, an unbelieving glint in her glasses

“That was before,” Lance insisted, desperate to have them understand. “Yeah we didn’t get along but- I really got to know Keith while we were there. Things just happened,”

"But you're married?" Hunk whispered hoarsely, staring down at their hands. "Isn't that, I dunno, too soon?"

Lance wasn't sure, was it? Once upon a time, people got married after knowing each other for a day. He had known Keith for a long time, and sure, they hadn't been dating for that long but was seven months considered too soon?

Wait, why was he even worried about that? They were only married in Coeihn terms.

"We aren't- I mean, we are..." Lance mutters, "We are Equivalents," is all he can manage in trying to summarize it. 

"Isn't that married??" Pidge shakes her head

Shiro lifted a hand to his chin, finding that curious, “It still is strange,”

Lance gawked at him, “No it isn’t-”

Shiro ignored him, turning to Allura, “Perhaps that is just it,”

“What is?” she huffed.

“You two were forced together for so long… you can’t help but grow feelings,”

Thinking that maybe he started to understand, Lance held some hope before he realized that hadn’t been what Shiro meant.

“Being isolated with someone sometimes leads to those two people growing romantic feelings for each other. You just naturally grow closer, even if the two would never normally do such a thing in normal circumstances,”

Lance didn’t really like the way he phrased that, or how he assumed that they would never have grown to be this way if it wasn’t for being trapped on that planet. Honestly, he didn’t know that for sure, but there had always been that chance.

“What are you trying to say?” Lance inquired weakly.

“I’m not saying the Princess is right that paladins can’t be together ,” Shiro says quickly, “I’m only saying that you two have spent 6 to 7 months stranded on an alien planet with nothing but each other to rely on. In situations like that, feelings tend to form. But… it is only when you are pulled out of that situation that they are tested to see if they are true,”

Keith, who had been very quiet this entire endeavor, finally spoke up, his voice crackly, “Are you saying this is fake?” 

“How could you say that?” Lance demanded,

“I’m saying you two should make sure this is real for yourselves,” Shiro says quickly, but Lance can see it in his eyes. He doesn’t believe any of this to be real. He thinks that it was all in their heads and that they would most likely separate if given time.

It pissed him off.

It pissed him off so much that he wanted to walk up and punch Shiro right in the nose.

“I think spending a little time apart might show you the truth,” he says. He is trying to be nice about it but Lance knows he is just waiting for them to start bickering with each other again.

“Regardless of what is real or not, you two won't be able to continue this as Paladins. You have a duty. So, until you two realize these affections are nothing but a convoluted dream made up from being isolated from everything you knew, you two will not be spending time alone,” Allura concludes, completely on board with Shiro’s messed up theory.

“You can’t just decide that!” they argue.

“We never even knew about some paladin code!” Lance agrees

“You never once mentioned it!” Keith roars, “I don't’ even remember agreeing to it! We just became paladins! That was all!”

“We were in a rush for time,” Allura snapped irritably.

Coran clears his throat, catching their attention, sensing that a bomb was beginning to go off- if it hadn't already, “Even if it were not because of the paladin code… Perhaps it would be wise for you two separate for a while?” he says, his voice gentle but firm, “As Shiro said, it would be a test of your feelings.” He is trying to find some middle ground to make everyone happy, but Lance just thought that hurt more. 

No one was standing on his side with this. 

Lance shakes his head, horrified that everyone started to agree to his solution if that is what you could even call it.

“I think it would be for the best,” Shiro concludes.

Keith had never looked so betrayed, “Shiro,” he croaked

“Guys?” Lance looks for Pidge and Hunk, wanting them to back him up.

Pidge doesn’t say anything, but Lance can take that as her answer. She didn’t know much about relationships, and this whole thing had kind of freaked her out. To her, Keith and Lance had truly hated each other, so logically, Shiro’s idea that they only felt this way because of isolation kind of added up.

And Hunk, well, he loved Lance like his own brother, but he tended to follow what Shiro ordered when he was unsure. Plus, he didn’t want Lance to be hurt if this relationship ended up being fake. It would be for the best to test it and make sure, right? Instead of just waiting for it blow up in their faces or something.
“I can’t… I can’t believe you guys,” Lance steps away from them, “Have you all become heartless in the months we’ve been gone?!”

“Buddy, no,” Hunk shakes his head, “We just-”

Keith barked at him, “Just nothing! No one should ever have to prove they love someone else! Who are you all to simply decide what is real or what isn’t?” 

“Keith, please don’t make this more difficult,” Shiro pleaded with him, “Just- this is just to see if it is right for the sake of the team,”

"Right..." Lance repeats Shiro's choice of words to himself, feeling numb. 

“The team?” Keith was seething, glancing at Allura, aware there was more to it than just that for her. She didn’t care if they proved their feelings to be true or not- she just wanted the emotions gone in general. It was something he couldn’t fathom.

How could being in love cause problems? Why was it even a rule in the first place? He always thought and was told that love made you stronger.

Tightening his grip on Lance’s hand, he was unwilling to let it go for even a moment. “And if we prove they are real?” Keith growled. There was no confirmation that the team would be accepting if they did this.

“Then your feelings are real,” Shiro concludes,

“And you won't ever try to stand between us again?” Lance inquired. “You’ll accept it?”

“I will,” he nods.

Lance and Keith glance at each other. They didn’t like it, but they were positive they wouldn’t be able to get the others of their back if they didn’t agree. Though Keith honestly didn’t care if they ever accepted it or not. It hurt that Shiro thought this, but he didn’t want to live his life always seeking Shiro’s approval.

The idea that he had to prove something so serious to their leader made his stomach tighten in horrible ways. But if Shiro wanted proof, then he was going to get it.

His feelings for Lance wouldn’t change just because they spent a little time apart.

“How long?” He demanded. “How long do you want this stupid test to go?”
“A few weeks,” Shiro says.

“Weeks?” Keith frowns, “And how far are you going to take this?”

“No…” Shiro looked a little awkward, “No kissing, hugging- no relationship. Be teammates for a while, that is it.”

“You’re kind of pushing this Shiro,” Lance narrowed his eyes.

“We can’t allow this otherwise, Lance.”

“How can you not allow it? You don’t decide what I do in my life, Shiro!” Lance feels like exploding, officially done when Shiro took it too far. “You aren’t my father, and even if you were, I still wouldn’t let you talk to me this way. You don’t decide who I love or why! I don’t need to give you some reason to why I love Keith! I just do! That is like asking why I breathe, or why I like to swim- I just do! I do it because it is my choice to do it!”

“Lance,” Shiro lifts a hand to calm him down, regret pooling in his eyes, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I’m just trying to be rational about it. I know you both don’t understand, but you are paladins. If this relationship does end up going sour, it affects the whole team. It affects Voltron. We have been out of the game for months and who knows what Zarkon has been planning while we have been away. We need to be prepared and on our top game. If you two suddenly have a bad break up, it could be catastrophic.”

They both knew he had a point, but it didn’t make the situation any better.

“I’m asking for a few weeks of you putting this on hold.” Shiro pleads with them, “Just to make sure,” he glances at Allura, watching how her eyes narrow at him, enraged. He blinks rapidly, “And when we get to that point and your feelings are still there, we’ll try to talk this out about the paladin code,” he says, hoping that was enough to satisfy her for now.

Lance couldn’t bring himself to answer.

After a few ticks of crushing silence, Coran suggests that everyone step out of the room for a while.

“Coran?” Allura questions him. 

“Give them some time to think it over, Princess,” Coran pleads, “We just got them back…”

Her anger subsided for a moment, her expression softening, “I… Alright,” she turns without another word and exits the room. The others follow, glancing at Keith and Lance before closing the door.

The second they were gone, Keith slammed his fist into the closet panel, cracking it.

“This is bull!”

Lance flinched, a shuddering breath making his body tremble, “Yeah,”

Pissed off, Keith paced around the room, “I don’t want to agree to some kind of term for this!! They either accept us or they don’t- end of story. I don’t need their approval… I’ve never needed anyone’s permission to live my life,”

“Keith,” Lance reaches out for him, taking him into his arms. Realizing how tough this was for him, already feeling the weight on his own chest, he sighs. “What should we do?”

“Punch Shiro in the face,”

Lance pales, “No,”

“It could be so easy,”

“Keith, no,” Lance shakes his head, unable to stop himself from smiling. “We- Shiro had a point. It isn’t smart to break apart the team, and we need to be able to form Voltron.”

“They would be the one breaking apart Voltron if they think this separation thing is a good idea,” Keith huffs.

“Allura was so mad,” Lance mumbled, pulling apart from Keith to shakily move towards one of the examination tables. Not trusting his legs, he lifted himself up to one to sit down.

“She was. What was her deal?” Keith fumed, “What is she going to do, anyway? She can’t keep us apart just because she commands it,”

“She is kind of royalty- they usually are allowed to command others,”

“She isn’t any Princess of ours,” Keith grunts and Lance couldn’t help but recall how Pidge has said that once, “I don’t have any obligation to listen to her when she tries to be bossy to us,”

“She could stop us from being paladins.”

“Well, then she is down two lions.” Keith snorted, “And I doubt she has paladins lined up for her to replace us. She won’t stop us from being paladins… She can’t do anything.”

Perhaps Keith was right, but Lance worried Allura would find some means. Feeling exhausted, drained from all the yelling, he sighs. He wanted everyone to get along, and has always tried to see both sides of an argument...

“Maybe it’s a good idea…” Lance whispered. Keith turned on his heel, the blood draining from his face.

“What?” he whispered hoarsely. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“I’m not saying they are right, Keith. I’m pissed off they even suggested it- but… We have spent every day, almost every second, together. I loved that. I really really did- but what if we… get bored of each other?”

“Bored?” Keith didn’t understand.  

“I think it is healthy to spend a little time apart,” Lance admits, “Not in the way the team is trying to do, but we don’t need to be attached at the hips. We need to be a little independant.”

Keith blinked a couple times, then shifted his gaze around the room. Slowly, he lifted his arms, “We are in a giant Castle in the middle of space. How exactly are we supposed to have some distance from each other?”

Lance sees his point, “I know… I’m sorry. I don’t know what to think anymore.” he sighs, sitting down in one of the chairs. “I wanted them to accept us, and I thought they would… I mean, Hunk has always accepted whoever I dated. Was it really that hard to believe I would love you?” When Keith got close, Lance rested his head on his shoulder. “He didn’t have my back in this at all.”

“I… Lance, I’m sorry,” Keith pats his back, “I thought Shiro would too.”

“I’m Shiro,” Lance made his voice deep to mock their leader, “I think I’m always right,”

Keith snorted, “Sounds just like him.”

Lance chuckles too, but it quickly fades.

“I really don’t want to do this,” he admits, “But we can’t afford to fight right now with Zarkon out there. I don’t-” he sniffs, “I want everyone to get along and I don’t want anyone to be angry or upset but- I-I am, Keith. I am upset with this. And I-” Keith lifted his chin, sealing his lips with a kiss.

Waiting till Lance calmed down a little, he pulled away, cupping his Equivalent’s face.

Lance was always one to please others. He wanted everyone to like him and did everything in his power to try and make that a reality.
Even if it meant hurting himself in the process.

Keith hated that Lance had to be the mature one in this situation to assure everyone got along. It could be so easy for the others to just go along with this. They didn’t need to understand- just respect their choices, and maybe then after some time they would begin to realize why they loved each other.

“What do you want to do then, Lance?”

He shrugs meekly, “Couples have been separated for weeks, and nothing has changed between them,” he muttered.

“So then, we’re doing this?” Keith sighs. Lance tugs him closer, making a choked hurt noise. Knowing he was torn with this, Keith inhales brokenly, “If you think this is the right thing to do- I’ll follow you. But I’m not doing this for them… I don’t need to prove anything to them. I’m doing this for you,”

“Keith…”

“But just know, that as soon as this stupid test thing is over, I’m whisking you away for our honeymoon, and they can’t do anything to stop me,”

A watery laugh bubbles from Lance’s chest and he smiles, “Where are we going?”

“A secret,”

“You’re just saying that because you haven’t decided yet,” Lance pursed his lips

“....No,”

“You hesitated,” 

“Did not,” Keith turns away, “Just prepare for a romantic endeavor of… romance,”

Wrapping his arms around Keith’s torso, Lance hugged him from behind, nodding. “It’ll be something to look forward to,”

“You bet it will,”

Batting his eyelashes, Lance says, “I want one last kiss,”

“It isn’t the last one,” Keith corrects him. “It’s just one we’ll have to make last for a while,”

“Better make it a good one then,” Lance suggests, “Give me all you got, sweetheart,”

Smiling, Keith met Lance with vigor, surprising the blue paladin when he gripped his hips and dipped him. It was only fair since Lance seemed to enjoy dipping him while kissing.

Pulling up, Keith stepped back an inch to say, “A few weeks…”

“We can manage that,”

“I’m not so sure,” Keith mumbled, “Can I sneak in a kiss every once and awhile?”

Lance chuckled, “I’m sure if no one is watching you can~”

“It’ll be like a challenge- how many can I sneak in a day without anyone realizing?” Keith cooed.

“I’ll be sure to keep a score,” pulling together for another smooch, the two chuckle. “Star cross lovers. Romeo and Juliet- torn apart by the social acceptance of others,” he sighs dramatically, pretending to faint in Keith’s arms.

“...Didn’t they die in the end?”

Lance pursed his lips, “Well… yeah, they did. Then we’re Hamlet and Ophelia,”

“I’m pretty sure they died too,”

“Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?” Lance frowns

“Both died,” Keith nods, “Plus they were both pretty power hungry,”

“Well geez! Does anyone who falls in love in a Shakespeare play actually live to have a happy life together??”

“Duke Orsino and Viola,” Keith smiles

“I wasn’t aware you read so many Shakespeare stuff,” Lance says, a little impressed.

“I had a lot of free time after getting kicked out of the Garrison,” he smiles, “How do you know Shakespeare?”

“My Mom loved it. Read it to us during middle school. It’s been a while though, so I don’t remember half of what she told us,”

Chuckling, Keith glanced back to the door, realizing it wouldn't be long till the others returned.

Standing hand in hand, they stood together.

They both knew neither of them wanted this. In fact, now that he thought about it, Lance could agree today, but he was 100% positive that he wouldn't be so willing to continue this tomorrow…

It was easy to say they could stop for a few weeks- words were something everyone could throw around. The test would be to see if they could actually pull it off.

How strange…

This was a test to see if they truly loved each other- but the real test for them would be to see if they could actually step away from each other for a few days without attempting anything.

Lance bet Keith would go one day before he looked him with that puppy dog look, quietly asking for a kiss.

...Lance bet himself to last only half that time.

Anyway, when the others returned to them, Lance announced that they would agree to their terms, but only Shiro’s. Allura seems angry that they decided to only hold off for a few weeks but accepted it for the time being.

And then nothing else was said. What could they say?

Lance was pissed, and honestly, he just wanted to go to bed after staying up so late.

“I’m going to bed. Goodnight, Keith,” Slowly, painfully taking his hand from Keith’s, he moved to the door.

“Lance,” Hunk attempts. Brushed aside by Lance’s arms, he watches in distress as he friends storm off to his room without a word.

Shiro put a hand on his arm, “Give him time,”

Hunk wasn’t sure that would help any.

A moment later, Keith followed in Lance’s steps, death glaring the entire team before he vanished down the hall.

It was going to be a long next couple weeks, but Shiro didn’t regret his decision. He had known Keith for a long time, and things like relationships had never interested him. His focus was purely on piloting, and sense finding Allura, all he thought about was Voltron and stopping Zarkon.

So yes, he was confident that Keith would realize this himself after a while and go back to how things were.

They needed the team to stick with the mindset of taking down Zarkon and having that as their only goal.

Besides, from what he had learned from Lance is that he tended to flirt and get overconfident when trying to impress others. Often times that attitude had caused some major slip ups during missions and Shiro couldn’t afford that.

He also didn’t want his baby brother to get hurt because Lance couldn’t stay faithful….

Not that he wanted to assume Lance would be that kind of person, but that is why he was doing this test. He was doing it to be sure.

He just needed to give the two time and they would understand he was just doing this for their sakes and the sakes of the team.


 

Seated in his room, curled up on his bed, Lance felt very cold. He had spent weeks here and had grown to considered this room his before going to the Coeihn world. Now- it felt unfamiliar and strange, like that first night he had spent here.

He honestly wanted to go running to Keith. They had spent so much time together; he didn’t even know how to sleep in a bed alone anymore.

Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t even bothered to ask how many weeks Shiro planned to make this go one. Just one or two? Or an entire month??

Sighing, he hears a knock. Still pissed at the entire team for agreeing to have them separated, he growls, “Go away,”

The knock is a little more insistent, “Lance, can I please have a moment?”
Recognizing it as Coran, Lance sat up

“What?” he grumbles, opening the door.

“Hello, my boy,” he smiles, hoping to come to Lance as a friend, “I just- Lance, I know this is tough. Honestly, I really wish this could all be avoided. I’m just so happy you are alive and here and well-” he sighs, “There is nothing I can say to make this better, but I want you to know something.”

“Oh yeah, what’s that?” he muttered 

“I follow Allura, and though I know she can be a little hard headed sometimes, I know she doesn’t mean anything bad in what she does. She’ll come around to this, I know. As will the others.”

Curious, Lance lifted his gaze, “And what about you. What do you think of it?”

Coran surprises him with a smile, “Love is a mysterious thing, Lance. I don’t think anyone on this ship really understands what you two feel because they have never been in love before.”
“And you do?”

“Of course I do. I was in love once-” he looks at his feet, “Still am. It doesn’t just go away. It stays with you forever, following your life till you're gone. I saw the way you two looked at each other earlier.” he grins, “It reminded me of my wife and myself.”

“I didn’t know you had a wife,” Lance’s shoulders relax, and he realized that Coran’s wife must have been…. “I-I’m so sorry, Coran,”

“It is okay, Lance. We all die at some point. I’m sure my darling is at peace wherever she is. But I didn’t come here to talk about my love life. I’m here to tell you that Keith and you have my support. I think it is correct to give yourself times to prove if this is real, if nothing else but to assure the others, but I want you to know you already have my belief in your relationship.”

Touched, Lance nods, “Thank you. Though- it doesn’t really make me feel any better that everyone else flat out didn’t believe it.”

“They are young, just like Keith and you. And while I know why Allura has her reasoning for this, because she does, I also know it can’t be easy for you two. So I think it is best that Keith and you get a little time to yourself, but I don’t see why you two can’t say goodnight to each other,”

Not sure what he meant, Lance lifts his hand when Coran extends something out to him. Taking it, realizing it was some sort of communication device, his raises an eyebrow.

“What is this?”

“Go back into your room and figure it out for yourself,” Coran chuckles.

Lance blinked and nods. “Okay…”

Before he can turn, Coran pats his shoulder, “It’s good to have you back, Lance. We sure did miss you,”

Giving him a quick hug, Lance nods, “Yeah, I missed you guys too,”

“And thank you for at least trying this. You didn’t have to do as the others requested,” Coran smiles, warm and admiring, “I always thought that was the best part about you two. Both Keith and you are always trying to do the right thing- even if that means you two get hurt in the process. So if there is anything you need, if things get too hard, or if the others are pushing you just a little too much- you can come to me,”

“I…” Lance feels touch, “Thank you, Coran,” with another hug the two pull apart and Lance returns to his room

Sitting back down to his bed, he stared at the device in confusion. Finding a button along the side, reminding of some kind of walkie talkie, he lifted it to his mouth.

Pressing the button, he is surprised to hear noise from the other end. It sounds like someone talking to themselves, muttering angrily.

He recognizes the sound, his heart fluttering, “Keith?”

The muttering stops, and there is a wild shuffling before he hears Keith, “Lance?”

“Why that sly dog,” Lance laughs to himself, realizing what Coran had done, “Hey sweetheart,”

Relief floods into Keith’s voice and he laughs, warm and loving, “Hey there-” he pauses, “Uh… Lancey?”

“That was the worse pet name ever,” Lance shake his head.

“I tried,”

“Try again,”

“....Lance-muffin,”

“Oh my god,” lance tosses his head back against his pillow, “You are adorable.”

“I thought I was getting somewhere with that,”

“You are getting better,” Lance assures him.

On the other end, there is a long silence.

Curious, Lance spoke up, “Keith? You still there?”

“Yeah, I am. I just uh… It’s strange sleeping in a bed alone,”

Lance understood that feeling, “These beds are a lot smaller too,”

“I was really looking forward to that cuddling thing you suggested,”

Lance bit his lip, chuckling, “I figured you were…. I was too,” he lowers his head down to his pillow, feeling depressed as he looked up at his ceiling.

“I hate this,” Keith tells him.

“Me too,” Lance says, “But um… just a few weeks, right? It isn’t like we aren’t allowed to see each other. Just no kissing or whatever,”

“I can’t do that,” Keith admits

Lance blinks, “What do you mean?”

“I want to kiss you everytime I see you- a request like that is impossible,”

With his heart stammering out of his chest, Lance laughs, “You are- geez, Keith,” he lifts a hand to cover his mouth, grinning into his palm. “I love you,”

“I love you too,”

“Well hey, if nothing else, this should give you plan one hell of a honeymoon,” Lance leans back into his pillow, smiling.

“I’ve already started jotting down a plan. It is messy and unorganized, but I’m figuring it out.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Lance lays there for a while, not sure what else to say and knowing that if he drew this conversation out for too long he might just end up running to Keith’s room and tossing this separation thing to the wind. “G-Goodnight, I guess,”

“I love you,” Keith’s voice echoed in his ears, making him shiver.

“I love you too,”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,”

“Will do,” without another word, Lance turned off the walkie talkie, placed it on the floor beside his bed, and sighed. With a longing to hold Keith close, he compensated by snuggling with a pillow.

It wasn’t warm or even remotely muscular like Keith was… But he had to force it to be enough for now.

Just a few weeks.

A few weeks.

Chapter Text

Lance found himself on the bridge of the castle, staring out at the stars. Not remembering how he got there, he stumbles back to return to his room. He was tired, wasn’t he? Wasn’t he supposed to be in bed?
Recalling that he would be returning to an empty room with no Keith, he is surprised when slender arms wrap around his torso.

“Hey,” Keith is there, smiling at him. In less than a second, Lance’s worries melt away. He smiles, so damn happy that he doesn't know what to do with himself.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he returns the greeting, content to lean against Keith for the rest of his life.

“Where do you think you’re going?” His equivalent muses, tugging Lance back into the room with him. Never able to go against that alluring smile, Lance follows, feeling as if he was floating on air.

“I’m going to bed…?” it felt more like a question than a response.

Keith chuckles, lifting Lance’s arms to settling himself between them. Lance feels a bubble of affection when Keith nuzzles closer. He would never have expected Keith to be so affectionate, but ever since becoming Equivalents, he had been very snuggly.

“Stay with me,” he rises on his toes, pecking Lance’s face with kisses,

“Keith, shouldn’t we be going to bed?” Lance asks, blessed in the way his equivalent brushes their noses together in an Eskimo kiss.

“On such a beautiful night?” The red paladin gestures to the stars “Come on, Lance. The others are waiting,”

“Others?” they move down the steps, and he is surprised to see the entire team seated on them, waiting for their arrival. They wave, calling their names.

“There you are!” they smile. Lance feels puzzled and looks down to his hand, which was intertwined with Keith’s. He knew this wasn’t okay with them, but it felt right. This situation felt right.

Keith squeezed his hand, grinning like nothing was wrong.

“Aren't you two cute?” Allura was nothing but smiles, unlike before.

It was dizzying, and his vision felt fuzzy.

“Equivalents,” she looks at Coran, “Quite an honorable thing to be within the Coeihn people, yes?”

“Indeed, Princess. Isn’t it such a thrill~?” he says, almost shining in Lance’s eyes. Perhaps he was? It was odd.

Shiro was getting to his feet, approaching Keith with wobbly knees, Taking his hand and lifting it to his face. Shiro examined the ring, the confirmation of their Equivalency, blushing a little, “I can't believe it…. married.”

Keith scratches the back of his head, nodding shyly. “Yup”

Lance looks between the two, “...Yeah,” he agrees,

“You’re uh- okay with that?”

“Okay?” Shiro laughs, bubbling tears in his eyes. Lance had never seen him so emotional, “My brother is married. I'm so happy,”

“Happy…?” Lance wanted to smile because that was all he ever wanted to hear from Shiro, but as much as he tried, it wouldn't come. “We are happy,” he means that with every fiber of his being.

Keith tilts his head to smile, looking so beautiful that it was hard for Lance to breath, “What’s happening right now?” He asked, wondering if perhaps last night had been a dream. He had only imagined that the others were against this and turned against him.

“What do you mean?” Keith inquired.

“So was the ceremony lovely?” Shiro interrupted them.

“Lovely?" Lance repeats the word, "We uh- we didn't have one,” he answers, his eyes never leaving Keith’s puzzled face. “I don't- I'm not even sure if Coeihns have stuff like that.”

“They probably celebrate it their own way,” Keith cups his face, checking on him. It felt so warm. This had to be real, right? Please… Please tell him his mind wasn't playing a trick on him.

“No ceremony?!” Shiro shrieks, startling him, “No way!” Lance slowly turns to stare at their leader in disbelief. Was he okay with it? In his mind, he knew it was obvious Shiro would because it was Shiro. Shiro always supported them.… but something felt off.

Like a surreal dream, the team gasped and leaped to their feet.

“That can't do!” Coran lifted a finger high into the air, practically flying. Flying? “You must have a ceremony if you are to be properly wed!”

“Indeed Coran.” Allura was suddenly on the controls, dramatically declaring, “We shall fix this by having the greatest ceremony this side of the galaxy!!”

Hunk and Pidge were hollering in agreement, congratulating Keith and Lance.

A moment later, Hunk was declaring embarrassing date ideas to Keith, who was nodding, writing them down. On the other hand, Pidge was trying to describe good locations to go to, showing a list- she even had pictures? Allura was already on it, trying to wormhole to some resort getaway.

Shiro was a bubbling mess, crying his eyes out over Keith, telling him how proud he was.

The next thing Lance knew he was in the backyard of his Abuela’s house, which had been decorated with lights, many chairs, and the plato filled to the brim with flowers.

He was standing before the team and his family, happy and loved.

This is what he wanted. This is what he wanted Keith to have.

Then it hit him.

Ah, this was a dream. None of this was real.

The realization of this made this paradise bittersweet.

Regardless of how silly they seemed to act, perhaps it was just how he preferred the team to have reacted to the news.

When he woke up, he felt cold and restless.

Sitting up, he pulled his knees to his chest, feeling a sense of emptiness. At this point, if Keith weren't already up, he would get him out of bed by peppering his face with kisses and soft whispers. In return, Keith would smile and try to pull Lance back under the covers for just a few more minutes of snuggling.

It would have been great.

Would have.

Feeling like going back to sleep would just make him more depressed, he rolled out of bed and went to get dressed. Opening his closet, he hesitated.

His fingers reached out, trailing along the green jacket he had obsessed with before getting tossed onto Iespion with Keith. He wore this for a year straight, matching it with gray shirts and jeans.

He had completely forgotten about it during the last few months, loving the clothes Tellru made too much to miss it. It made him feel torn in his choice for things to wear.

On one side, it hurt to wear the Iespion clothes because it reminded him of Keith, and right now, he couldn’t be with Keith. At the same time, he wanted to wear them, because they were filled with so many precious moments to him and…

He leaned forward, lifting a shirt and pressing it to his nose. Inhaling, he could smell the Iespion world. He could smell Ruru, her parents, and he could smell Keith. He could smell everything that had grown to be important to him, and he wanted that to stay with him.

With that thought, he took a pair of pants and a shirt, leaving his old jacket inside the closet once more. He wore that jacket at a point in his life where he was lost, confused- and hated Keith. It didn’t feel right to wear it anymore.

He didn’t want to wear something he wore when he was an entirely different person.

Tossing on his clothes, he sauntered down to the kitchen. Within, Pidge and Hunk were already seated and lifted their heads when he entered.

He narrowed his eyes, turning away from them without a word to grab a plate.

Forgetting how they tended to mostly eat goo when Hunk wasn’t able to make something he stuck his tongue out at it. Shuffling back to the table, seating himself on the complete opposite side of the others, he ate in silence.

This stuff used to taste so good to him before, but that was probably because he had nothing else to eat out here in the voice of space.

Shuffling it down the best he could, he heard the door open. He didn't look up, only able to hear the silent padding of feet. He recognized the sound like he recognized his own heart beat and peaked at Keith.

His hair was disheveled, messy from a restless sleep that showed in the bags under his eyes.

Lance’s heart reached out to him, miserable to see Keith so exhausted.

He stumbled around like a zombie, somehow managing to grab a plate of goo and make his way to the table.

Lance hadn’t expected to see Keith sitting across from him, eyeing his plate with a dull look. Slowly lifting his gaze to Lance, he smiled a little, brightening.

Lance can’t help but smile back but can feel how Pidge and Hunk were looking at them.

He wanted to say something, but honestly, what could he say? The only person he wanted to talk to right now was Keith and Lance had honestly forgotten how to be “just friends” with him.

How could he talk to him without meaning something deeper in his words?

Putting his best effort into the task, he leans into the table.

“Sure is weird to eat goo again,” He mutters, unable to bare the silence. Keith nods a little in agreement.

“It’s not as good as I remember,”

“Yeah. Tellru’s food was so good. I dare say, it is almost as good as Hunk’s,” Lance doesn’t look at Hunk as he says this, very content to ignore the yellow paladin completely. To him, the only person in the room right now was Keith.

Sensing where Lance was going with this, Keith’s attitude perked up, “You got pretty decent yourself when she started to teach you,”

“I could fry me one mean looking egg,” Lance snickers,

“Yeah, you literally drew an angry face on it with that ketchup stuff,” Keith snorts

“Was that even actually ketchup? I mean like- it tasted like ketchup, but it was yellow like mustard.” Lance says, puzzled

Keith shrugs, “And the red stuff tasted like mustard,”

“Exactly my point! It was weird!” he barked up a storm at breakfast, sharing conversation topics with Keith and having a jolly good time.

Perhaps he was looking at this the wrong way. He could obviously still talk to Keith. It wasn't like they were going to be completely isolated.

He couldn’t kiss him, but he could talk, right? Friends talked and joked to each other, so he technically wasn’t going against their agreement.

Well- maybe he went against it a little with how he brushed his foot against Keith’s under the table. With a little red in his cheeks, Keith bumped his leg back, smiling. With a wiggle to his eye brows, he used his toes to lift the bottom of Keith's pants a little, sliding the heel of his foot along his legs.

The red paladin blushed, struggling to eat his food without seeming suspicious to the others.  

When Shiro walked in Keith tugged his feet away, but that didn’t appear to go unnoticed, “Keith. Lance,” he narrows his eyes.

Lance glances at him, the picture of innocence, “Yes?”

There is a long pause, Shiro’s narrowed eyes boring into his soul, “It’s time for training,”

“Shiro is right,” Allura announced her presence the moment she entered the room, eyes set.

She threw them into training before they could even finish eating, insisting that since it’s been months, they would have to grow to be a team again.

Lance understood and ultimately agreed- but he could see the look in her eyes. This was a test. As if his new relationship with Keith would somehow affect how they fought and made them vulnerable.

He could also feel Shiro’s eyes on him, so he was positive their leader considered the same thing to be a problem. He didn’t say anything of course, but Lance knew he was thinking it.

Perhaps they all were.

Or maybe they were all just nervous since it’s been so long since they fought together. Seven months was a long time, and people could easily change- Lance knows Keith and him did. That includes the way you fight.

He could see it in the way Hunk fought. He was stronger, able to maneuver his weapon around with more skill and precision than he had seen last. Pidge seemed to have grown as a fighter too, taking more strategic plans to attack to compensate for her lack of strength.

In Lance’s case, there hadn’t been a need to fight that much on Iespion, so his skills had fallen behind a bit. His aim was still great, but taking on actual enemies was a bit of a challenge.

He kept putting a finger to his nose when he didn't realize too. Because of the Cryo pod, he didn’t need to wear glasses anymore, but he still felt this habit to push them up, even though they weren’t really there.

So he was just touching air, brushing his finger to his nose like an idiot.

Needless to say, training was basically a bust.

“I think that is enough for today,” Shiro brushes some sweat from his brow, looking the team over. “How we feeling?”

Were they supposed to answer that honestly, because Lance had some words he wished to vocalize. If he meant teamwork wise, then they were trash. If he meant emotionally, Lance was also trash. But if he meant on how Lance felt about all them, then they were already on their way to the dump while he was taking Keith out for a nice dinner.

“Fine,” Pidge and Hunk muttered when it seemed that both Lance and Keith were not in the mood for talking.

If they thought Lance was going to take any of this separation stuff well, then they had another thing coming. They couldn’t completely turn on him and just expect him to be buddy buddy with them the next day.

He was willing to train and put his feelings aside in those moments or when they had a mission, but like hell, he was going to share pleasantries other than that.

Though, he did wish it could be better.

As much as he missed the team, being here, forced to go through this- it was hell, and a day hadn’t even passed by yet. Already today there had been five instances where he had wanted to kiss Keith.

Keith being cool in training, being sweet during breakfast, being cute in the hall, being cute just standing there- okay, Lance should face the facts, he always wanted to kiss Keith. He was just standing there, blinking into the distance thinking about who knows what and Lance swears he’s never seen anything cuter.

Then if he wasn't adorable enough, Keith realized Lance was staring at him and just froze up, probably thinking he had something on his face and was just trying to wash it away subtly. And it. Was. So. Cute.

Lance never expected to be more entranced by him because he wasn’t able to act on his impulses.

It made it sting that much more that the team wasn’t accepting of it.

He had hoped that everyone would be in higher spirits at their return. But things were so… awkward. Yesterday they were great, till they revealed their secret- and now things have flushed right down the drain. He had forgotten how to talk to all of them. He wasn’t sure if it was from the absence either, or just because he was so pissed at them that it felt like grinding his teeth to get out a few words.

Probably both.

At least he was trying, right?

The weeks would go by eventually and if they got into some missions, the time would go even faster. So when Allura called them for a meeting, he bounded into the room, ready to get some stuff done.

Since they had been gone for so long, Allura pulled up a map to discuss everything that had done since their absence, showing the planets they had freed and areas they had won over from Galra control. Despite not being able to use Voltron, the team had gotten a good amount of work in.

Focused on the screen, hoping to put his time into defeating Zarkon to fill the void he felt in his chest, he listened to Allura carefully. He was focused. He was determined. He was- feeling a strange weight on his hand?

Glancing down, he was surprised to see fingers trailing along his palm. Looking up to the eyes those fingers belonged to, he wasn’t that surprised to find Keith staring at him with a quiet plea.

Gulping when Keith stepped a little closer, Lance slipped his finger forward, wrapping it around his Equivalents.

His Equivalent.

That is what Keith was, and that is what he always would be… If he wanted to, that is.

Keith intertwined their hands in secret, relying on the fact that everyone was focused on Allura to get away with it. It was like a game as Allura pointed to the screen, her back turned to them. A little touch here, a graze of a finger to the other’s wrist- secrets smiles and winks. Lance was mouthing “I love you” when the entire team looked away, and Keith’s face blossomed with love.

In return his grasped the Equivalent bond ring placed on Lance’s finger, lifting it a little to secure it.  

They must have been caught eventually because when Allura turns back, eyeing them both suspiciously, she asked them to separate.

“Is there a problem?” Lance inquired, “I’m only standing here,”

“Just go over there,” Allura points to the other side of the room.

Keith’s hand tightened on the back of his shirt, holding it tight.

Lance almost couldn't pull away, hurt in the way Keith’s eyes wavered. When Allura’s eyes narrowed, he stepped away, sighing when Keith’s hand slipped loose. Feeling tired suddenly, Lance shuffled around the others to stand on the other side of the room.

Folding his arms, he leaned against the wall and looked out to space, a bubble of frustration spiraling around in his chest.

“We are stopping here to get supplies,” Allura announced, continuing to point at the map. Lance didn’t care anymore.

Glancing in Keith’s direction, he could see him staring at his feet. The Red Paladin's eyes were glazed over; his hands rolled into tight fists at his side.

He was pouting, and Lance wanted nothing more than to take him into his arms, tickle his sides, and get that pretty little smile back.

“With our fight against Zarkon, we must be prepared.” Allura clears her throat, noting how not everyone seemed to be paying attention. With a pointed look, she adds, “We have no idea when Lotor shall show his face again,”

“Lotor?” Lance was confused. He didn’t recognize that name.

Allura turned to him, her eyes widening, “Oh yes, that’s right. You and Keith were both absent for this.”

“I hate that guy,” Hunk sniffles, sounding exhausted just at the mention of this mysterious Lotor, “He’s always causing trouble,”

“A Galra?” Keith raised his eyebrow

“More than just that. Apparently, he is Zarkon’s son,” Shiro grimaces, like the concept of that is hard to swallow

“Zarkon has a son!?” Lance yelled, “Since when was that a thing??” That was all sorts of wrong that he didn’t realize was going to come into his nightmares.

Allura opened her mouth to answer but shrugged, not even sure how such a horrible thing came to be. “I try not to think about it,”

“Point is, he's been causing trouble everywhere we go. It's like he knows our plans before we do,” Pidge sighs, getting agitated just at the thought of having to confront him.

“We've done our best to get the upper hand, but so far, that hasn’t worked out,” Shiro says, “I’m hoping now that we have you two back, we’ll be able to put a stop to his plans for good,”

“Course,” Lance nods, “But uh- what exactly is he like?”

“Cunning,” Allura says, “He’s different from Zarkon in many ways. He is manipulative, using hostages to lure us to him,”

“He’s already attempted using two different planets we’ve already freed from Zarkon against us,” Pidge adds, “But when we got there, he had only captured them. No one had been killed,”

“He doesn’t kill?” Keith blinked.

“It’s strange,” Allura agrees, “We don’t know what his objective is. He comes and goes at random, sometimes only appearing to take supplies before running off again. We have no idea what he is after,”

“Sounds like a weird dude,’ Lance folds his arms. “What about Zarkon?”

“Inactive as far as we can tell. He’s been on the search for us, but we’ve been able to avoid his detection. This is our best chance to gather some supplies and devices our next plan of action,”

Lance folds his arms. So much for getting into a mission to keep his mind off things.

“We have an extensive list of supplies we’ll need so we’ll split up. Lance, you go with Coran.” Allura hands them a list, “Hunk and Pidge. Shiro and Keith,” she gives the others their lists and Lance can’t help but assume that this was just a means to get him away Keith...

Of course, that might not have been true, but it felt like a thing.

Thankful to at least be paired up with the loving Altean Lance follows him, looking at Keith as he passed. He could see the unwillingness to be partnered up with Shiro, especially after the day before.

Honestly, despite their conversation, Keith hadn’t talked to any of them, especially not Shiro. He wouldn’t even look at anyone, his eyes either at his feet or looking for Lance.

It made Lance’s heart ache, and he hoped his Equivalent would be okay down there.

Taking a pod to the small planet below the Castle, the team split up, hoping to be in and out without wasting too much time.

“Alright lad,” Coran hands him a basket to carry the food they would be gathering. He rattled off what they needed to buy, but Lance didn’t recognize a single word, so he just nodded.

Following Coran through the crowd, hoisting the basket up, he looked over the stalls with little interest. It felt strange being here.

Months before, he was used to going from world to world, seeing so many different types of alien species that he could hardly keep track of them all. Now though, he was so used to being on one planet. He was used to the Coeihn culture, the Coeihn shops- having Ruru with him… It felt unfamiliar and uncomfortable.

It had been so much of a change trying to get used to leaving earth. Now he felt homesickness for Keith and his little apartment back in Iespion.

“Come along, Lance,” Coran’s hand tugs on his sleeve, “I wouldn’t want to lose you in this crowd,” he pauses, his gaze softening “We’ve done quite enough of losing and misplacing lately, after all,”

“Oh,” Lance steps closer, “Sorry. I’m not going anywhere, Coran,”
“I hope so,” Patting his shoulder, Coran motions to a few other stands. Looking them over, buying a few supplies from time to time, Lance noticed how a lot of these stands seemed to be places that sold gifts.

Toys, little trinkets….

He wanted to give Keith something. He had been so quiet all day- returning to that loner he once was. Lance didn’t want that, and the idea of not being able to stop that from happening terrified him.

Looking over the gifts, Lance calls for Coran.

“Yes?” he asks, his mustache perking up at the call.

“Coran, can I ask you something?”

“Of course my boy!’ he beams, walking over. “What is it?”
“I know we agreed to kind of- put a hold on relationship stuff but… Could I get Keith a gift?” he asks. There is no way he would request this of Allura or the others, but Coran had been super understanding of this whole thing, so he hoped maybe he could allow this.

Staring him over, Coran’s eyes soften, and he glances around, “Why a gift? Are you celebrating something?”

“No… he’s just been down lately,”

Coran nodded, “Well, I believe by the Princess’ orders I am supposed to say no,”

Lance deflated, “Oh…”

“So don’t even think of buying anything while I’m looking away,” Coran winks, “Cause I’m about to go over there and be distracted for at least 10 minutes,” he motions to a fruit stand and Lance is grinning. 

“Thank you, Coran,”

“I don’t know why you are thanking me,” he says dramatically, “I told you no, after all. Oh, look. Fruit~” he slides away as Lance chuckles.

Shuffling back to the stands, knowing he had to be quick before they had to return to the castle, he hummed in thought. What would Keith like? What would cheer him up?

What was even half of these things???

Looking over the objects, Lance knew he had to choose something that wouldn’t seem too obvious to the others.

Surprised when he located a stand of watches, of all things, he looks down at them. No, they weren’t watches exactly, but kind of like a compass? Not even sure if that was correct either, Lance stepped towards the stand to look them over.

The woman who owned it instantly leaped up to smile at him, “See something you like, sir?”

“I was just wondering what these are?” he tells her.

“Oh, why those are Star guiders,”

“Star guiders?” he inquired, tilting his head.

She smiles, pulling one up for him to look at, “It’s the latest craze,” she insists, “A lot of travelers going out to explore the universe are taking these. It’s super simple too. What you do is- you put it on, and as you travel around the cosmos it counts the stars you pass.” she clicks it on to show the star that was closest to him. “Whatever star you are closest to, it highlights and tells you everything you need to know about it. How old it is, the planets surrounding it, any folk tales about the system- you name it. Those adventurer types go nuts over it. Plus, it keeps track of where you’ve been, including the planets. So you can look back on it later. Show your grandkids or something,”

Lance loved it. Keith would love it.

“I’ll take one please,” he grins. “Oh wait…” he rummages through his pocket, “Does this kind of money work here?” he holds out the money he had received while on the Coeihn planet.

“Oh, Iespion dollars,” she muses, “Sure does honey,”

“Oh sweet,” he hands it to her.

“For yourself or as a gift?” she inquires, motioning to the rest for him to pick which one he liked back. Instantly going with the red, he picks it up.

“A gift,” he tells her.

She smiles, tilting her head, “For someone special?” she teases.

“Oh uh…” blushing a little, he shrugs, “Yeah.”

“Want me to engrave it for you then?”

“Engrave it?”

“Of course. If it’s a gift, I engrave the watch for free. You can say whatever you want. Their name, your name, a little note, etc.” she rattles off. Considering that, Lance racks his mind for something good to say.

He could go for something simple like “from Lance,” but he wanted it to be special. Since he wasn’t able to be with Keith for a little while, he wanted to fill the time as much as he could through any means.

Thinking of something perfect, he leans towards her and whispers it.

She doesn’t quite understand the meaning, but finds it cute all the same and quickly placed the message on the back of the watch. Packing it in a small box, she thanks him, insisting he could come back anytime. Waving goodbye, he stuffed the box into the very bottom of the basket and rejoined Coran.

Noting his return, Coran twirls a finger through his mustache, “Ah, come to look at the fruit? Hope you didn’t go against what I said and bought something for Keith,”

“Never~” Lance whistles.

“Good, cause if you did, I would be distraught, young man,” he grins, “But out of curiosity, if you were to get something for Keith, what would it be?”

“That would be a secret that would need to be revealed later,” Lance grins back.

“Ooh, sly,” Coran wiggles his finger at him. Gathering the rest of the supplies, they return to the pod to meet up with the others.

Hunk and Pidge had their baskets filled and ready, trying their best to smile at Lance. He didn’t return the gesture, feeling like they didn’t deserve it.

Instead, he focused on Keith and Shiro coming up from the crowd, carrying more of the heavier supplies. Shiro’s face was tight, looking uncomfortable and ready to keel over.

Curious to what might have happened on their little adventure, Lance lifts his hand, “Welcome back.”

Shiro quickly shuffles past him, blushing of all things.

Lance was horrified, “What did you tell him?” He demanded to Keith.

Keith, the smug sass bucket he was, smirked, “He was asking about what else happened on Iespion, that’s all,” he strolled past Lance to head onto the pod.

Lance followed, almost tripping over his own feet, “You didn’t tell him anything weird did you??”

“Other than the fact that you and I made sweet sweet, love to each other? No,” he says innocently.

The boxes in Hunk’s hand clatter to the floor, the blood draining from his face. Pidge lurched forward with shock, making a gagging noise.

“Gross!”
“KEITH!” Lance tried to hit him, “You didn’t give him details, did you??”

“Details?” he mused”Depends on what you mean by details,”

“What did you tell him exactly???”

Keith smirks, “How sometimes we would do it all night~  Or that one time on the counter~ or-”

“Stop!!!” Hunk covered his ears, “No more!!”

“You nasties!!” Pidge agreed

“Keith!” Lance is shrieking, “You can't just tell others that kind of stuff! How far did you go with the details??!”

“Not that far. That kind of stuff is something only I can know,” his eyes sparkle with mischief, looking Lance up and down, like he was undressing him there and then with his eyes.

Lance wanted to cover himself, blushing furiously. For Pete's sake, Coran was right there!!

And here he was buying a gift for this guy thinking he was so sad that he could hardly talk- but he was just being a troll when Lance wasn’t looking!!

But, if Lance had to be honest, it was kind of funny. Not that he would have done the same thing- but it sounded like something Keith would do.

“I’ll never be able to look Shiro in the eyes ever again,’ Lance concludes to himself, gathering the supplies and sitting down without another word. The embarrassed stares from the others were not unexpected.

When they arrived back at the castle, Allura blinked at them, watching how they stumbled out, looking either pale or red in the face, “What happened to all of you?”

Keith opened his mouth to answer, and Lance leaped at him, covering his mouth, “Nothing!!”

Keith struggled, looking determined to reveal this little secret to Allura - her especially, more than anyone.

Shiro was on board with this, trying to lead Allura in the opposite direction, telling her there was something essential he had to show her. Confused, she was tugged out of the room without another word, leaving the rest of them to unpack the boxes.

Slowly lowering his hands when he was positive Keith wouldn’t blurt out anything else that was embarrassing, Lance gave him a warning look, “Sweetheart,” he pinches his cheek.

Keith grins. It’s goofy, lovely, and Lance’s can’t help but forgive him.

“I was just telling Shiro the truth,”

“Did you really need to mention that though?” Lance sighs.

“He asked,”

“He definitely did not ask about that in particular, you just choose to bring that up,” Lance accused him. He shrugged in return.

Huffing, recalling how he had left his gift into one of the baskets, he left Keith to finish unpacking to retrieve it, hiding it in his jacket pocket.

Carrying the boxes where they needed to go, Lance contemplated the right moment to give Keith the gift. It was almost impossible to give it to him without the others noticing, so he needed to be smart about it.

He took his chance when the hours started to draw late, and they had all begun to go their separate ways, either to go to bed or work on their own stuff.

“Hey, Shiro,” he calls to him, catching him on the deck before he could leave.

Their leader turned abruptly, shocked that Lance was initiating conversation, “Yeah?” he can’t seem to look him in the eye without getting embarrassed, and Lance blames Keith for that.

“I was wondering if I could get some training in with you?” Lance tells him, “It’s been so long since we fought together that I feel a little off balance with the team and how we fight. I thought maybe some solo training with each of along with the full team training would get me back to the feel of things.”

Shiro looks proud at Lance for suggesting such a thing, “Of course, Lance,” he pats his shoulder. “Wanna join us, Keith?”
Keith blinked a couple of times, avoiding meeting Shiro’s gaze, and shakes his head, “No,” he grumbled, “I”m good. I’m heading to bed,”

“Alright, you rest up,” Lance waved.

Passing by Keith, making sure to stay a step behind Shiro, he tossed the box over his shoulder. Catching it, puzzled, the red paladin looked to Lance for some sort of explanation.

Lance only winked over his shoulder, signaling to Keith to be quiet about the matter.

He was confused, to say the least, but kept his mouth shut. Waiting till the two left, he returned to his room to discover the secret of the little box.

Moving inside, Keith kicked off his shoes and sat down on the edge of his bed, looking over the box in confusion. Opening it, he was surprised to find some watch looking device inside.

Realizing it was a gift, he smiled and took it out, flipping it over in his fingers to examine each detail. Of course, Lance chooses red for him, but he wasn’t usually one for something that told time.

Not even sure how to properly work a watch, he leaned back to mess with it, pressing buttons to try and figure out how it functioned.

Seeing something engraved on the bottom of the watched he leaned closer to look at it.

"My feelings haven’t changed. Love, Lance."

Keith fell against his bed, placing the gift to his hammering heart, grinning like an idiot. He quietly cursed Lance for how sweet he could be and was angry with himself for not thinking of getting him a gift while he was down on that planet too.

Of course, being with Shiro, it might have been impossible to do so.

Placing the watch on, he lifted the card in the box for the instructions. It turned out to not just be any regular watch that kept time- no, it was something amazing.

Keith spent a good hour going through the information of the sector they were in before Lance called him on their secret communication device.

“Hey,” Lance hummed, “You still awake?”

Lifting it to his ear, he says, “I love it,”

Lance is already giggling, knowing he means the gift, “I’m happy to hear that,”

Keith starts to rant on him about the watch, discussing how old the nearest star was, how old the surrounding planets were and what species tended to be found there. He nerded out, and Lance loved every moment, happy to hear Keith’s mood brightened by so much.

He listened for hours, yawning from time to time and not even realizing when he fell asleep till he awoke to the sound of the alarm.

"Paladins!" Allura's voice echoed, "We've located Lotor!"

Chapter Text

Lance was shocked when he seemed to be the first to stumble onto the bridge, welcomed by a very pink clad Allura. She wore the paladin armor.

“Pink.” He notes dully, not even realizing the armor could come in that color- especially since there was no pink lion. She turns to him, her eyes wide, then quickly looks down at herself.

 “Ooh… Oh, I’m sorry Lance!” she quickly apologized. “I forgot.”

Not even sure what she was talking about, he glanced back down at her armor, taking the sight in. The realization struck him and his stomach dropped. That’s right, he had forgotten too. Allura had been piloting the Blue lion since he disappeared. Of course she would have gotten used to the role by now.

That left a problem, didn’t it? 

Who was supposed to pilot the Blue lion now?

“Uh…” he scratches his head, unsure, feeling like an unwanted wheel suddenly. Of course, he had always felt that way with the team. He had just forgotten that feeling with Keith in Iespion.

Before they could work it out, the rest of the team came piling in, panicked to what was going on.

“Allura.” Shiro steps up. “What is happening? You’ve located Lotor?”

Quickly forgetting the issues of who would go where she turned to pull up the screen.

“We just discovered his ship. It is here within this galaxy,” the ship appeared on the scanners a moment later, floating aimlessly within the cold blanket of space. It seemed to be put to rest, most likely powered down to allow the crew or such to rest. From where it was, it was hidden away, only able to be picked up by the scanners if one was close to his coordinates. Lucky them, Lance supposed.

Shiro eyed the situation, taking in their supplies and manpower. If they played their cards right, they could get rid of Lotor once and for all.

“Are we going for it?” Pidge looked unsure.

“Keith and Lance haven’t even flown in their lions since getting back.” Hunk agreed, nervous.

“We can handle ourselves,” Keith growled at him, eyes narrowed accusingly. “If this Lotor guy is a threat then we should stop him,”

“Even so, we aren’t even sure if we can form Voltron. However… it’s true that a chance like this doesn’t come around often. We’ve been trying to get the upper hand on Lotor for months now.” Shiro rubs his chin.

“We can handle this,” Lance adds in, standing tall before his team, “We won’t slow you down,”

Hunk opened his mouth, quick to say, “We never said you would slow us down,”

“But you all thought it,” he lifts a hand, not wanting to beat around the bush, “Keith will be fine.” he hadn’t even tried to add himself into that sentence, because how positive could he really be about his own skill? But Keith, he was different. Keith was extraordinary. “Even with the small gap, he is still the best pilot I know.” he motions to his Equivalent, smiling proudly. He tried his luck with Allura still in the room and made finger guns, winking, “Still great with a sword and man can he sure buzz the brillo.”

“What?” Hunk tilted his head.

Lance smiles, “You know~ He can grease the loaf pan.” The team frowned, sharing puzzled looks. Lance’s lips curled, trying his best not to laugh and break character to such a beautiful moment, “He’s good at jamming the clam, ya know? A real good jingle-jangler. He really likes to park that beef bus in Tuna town~”

Pidge shook her head, making a strange face, “Lance, what the hell are you talking about?”

“Y-Yeah, I’m so confused,” Hunk admits.

“Passing the gravy, as my grandma used to say-hah-” he turned, laughing into his palm and waving them away, “Ignore me,” he snickered.

The team blinked once, then twice, their expressions blank. “Right…” Shiro nods, trailing the word off and turning back to the monitor. Putting Lance’s words to the side, just as the blue paladin planned, he began to discuss how they would have to strike if they wanted to go through with this attack. The others followed suit, willing to chalk that up as another weird Lance moment, except for Keith.

Keith stared at his feet, lifting his clenched hand to his lips and striking his thinking pose. He was legit thinking about it and was trying to work out Lance’s strange sayings in his head. Lance grinned impishly at him, waiting.

“There are times I feel hung like a parlog being around Keith,” he talks, as if talking to himself, but his sentence is made to head in Keith’s direction. The red paladin blinked rapidly, knowing the others wouldn’t really know a parlog that well, but having Lance bring it up just made it more confusing.

Hoping to give him a hint, Lance lifts his palm to his face, making a quiet noise for Keith to look at him. When their eyes met, he whispered, “You sure do know how to activate my particle barrier, Keith,”

Keith in return flushed a slow, dark red, gasping like he had been scandalized. “Those were Euphemisms. Ones about-” he inhales, “S. E. X,” he spells it out like one would when a child was present, glancing at the team wearily. And Lance swears to every living being in the Universe, there is nothing cuter than this sweet little red paladin.

“Yes. They were,” Lance nodded smugly, so proud that his naive love actually understood what he was trying to say.

“Are you two paying attention?” Allura grumbled, “We need to take this seriously.”

Lance cleared his throat, composing himself, “Yes, right. Go on. I was just thinking about Keith releasing his mighty Kraken,”

Keith made a choking noise, clamping his mouth shut and burying his head in his hands.

Allura looks perplexed, looking back at Shiro for some explanation for the strange human culture she had just been slapped with. When he had none, she sighed. “Lotor is a dangerous enemy. We must focus. We could finish this, here and now.” Shiro and her share a long look, as if quietly coming to an agreement.

“Even if it is just a hit and run, getting any upper hand on Lotor could help us in the long run.” Shiro narrows his eyes, concluding. “Team, get to your lions and get ready for an attack.”

“We must move quickly. It will only be so long before he realizes we are here.” Allura exclaimed. The team rushed for their tubes, Lance winking at Keith in passing. He swallowed, cheeks red and eyes wide. Stumbling into his tube, he shot down without another word.

Lance, on the other hand, stopped just as he was about to enter. Holding his breath for a few ticks, he slowly looked back at Allura, noting how she was staring at him.

She swallowed thickly. “What are you waiting for?”

With a tight curl in his stomach, he quietly asks, “Are you sure?”

She was puzzled, taken aback, “What?”

He hated to bench himself- to admit that he was almost useless to the team right now- but it would be selfish to go out there just to give himself some peace of mind.

“You were the blue paladin the whole time I was gone. I haven’t been able to pilot for months, so who knows if I’m rusty or not. If this is this Lotor guy, perhaps it’s for the best that you go out there?”

Allura’s eyes widened, “Lance…”

“Are you sure, my boy?” Coran was just as surprised, his eyes gentle.

“I just wanna assure no one gets hurt out there because I can’t pilot correctly.” He smiles, taking his bayard from his belt. She probably hadn’t been able to use any bayard since Keith and Lance had taken them with them when they left. “Here.” With only a second of hesitation, he tosses it to her.

Catching it, fumbling to grasp the handle, she inhaled sharply. “L-Lance…” she moves closer to him, eyes shimmering. She was touched, so grateful for him to not take Blue away from her. He could see it in the way her hands trembled. “Thank you,” she wrapped an arm around him in a hug.

It felt rather cold, being the bigger person in this situation. Just to receive gratitude from the woman who had been causing him nothing but grief for the last three days. It was bizarre, and kind of mute.

“You better get going,” he mumbles, his arms held firmly at his side, refusing to hug her back. Pulling away, looking almost hurt at his cold shoulder, she nods, scurrying to the pod and shooting downward.

Left with just the two of them, he could feel Coran staring at him.

“You alright, Lance?” he inquired carefully. Lance nodded, pushing through the anxiety he felt.

“Fine,” What he had said was true after all. They had the best chance with Allura out there.

Shaking it off, he approached the controls, standing next to Coran as the Lions shot from the hanger. He felt so distant having to watch the lions head into action instead of being in them. It gave him a different perspective on just how fast they moved and how powerful they appeared, standing together.

“Alright team,” Coran says into the intercoms, “While you take Lotor’s ship head on, Lance and I shall stay out of sight, ready to give support when needed. We’ll wait for the opportune moment to strike, then-”

“Why is Lance in the Castle?” Keith’s voice boomed, his face appearing on the screen. The second his eyes locked with Lance’s the confusion started to morph to something darker.

“I am piloting the Blue lion in his place.” Allura speaks up.

“What?” Keith snaps, already understanding what had happened before she even said anything,

“But Lance is the blue paladin. Why the hell are you in there?”

“Keith.” Shiro says sternly, not appreciating his tone.

“Lance is the Blue paladin, isn’t he? Blue choose him to be her pilot first! Not Allura!”

“It’s fine, Keith,” Lance says quickly. “I told Allura it was alright. She has been flying a lot longer than me and we both haven’t been able to pilot in a while. So we shouldn’t risk having two rusty pilots out there.” He fakes a smile, and he can see in Keith’s eyes that he sees right through it.

“Lance…”

“This is our chance to take down Lotor. I can try to get in some flying with Blue later. I don’t mind just being back up.”

“Are you sure?” Shiro inquired, surprised.

“I learned recently that sometimes the best thing to do is knowing when to step down.” Lance tells him, “I’m sure. Let’s take this guy out. I’ll support you from the castle.”

“Yes indeed!” Coran salutes. Lance was sure it wouldn’t be that bad. Coran was forced to watch them fly off in their lions everyday. Surely he had to feel the same as Lance and wanted to be out there too.

Similar to Coran, he would do what he could from the castle, bringing support when they needed it. The castle had tons of support fire, after all. He could take down just as many Galra ships from here and probably do it in twice the time.

“Go get ‘em, guys,” he gives Keith a wink through the coms. It seemed to calm him enough, but the way he gripped the controls of his Lion was tell enough to how much he disliked this idea.

“Alright team.” Shiro says, turning his lion in the direction of Lotor’s ship. “Move in a tight formation and give them everything you got!” The Lions followed one by one, Keith holding off as long as possible before grumbling and following Shiro’s lead. A few seconds later, Lance could hear Shiro ordering to fire.

“Beginning attack.” Pidge confirmed. In the distance, Lance could see the first signs of explosion before the battle broke out. They had surprised Lotor, managing to snag a good chunk of his ship before his fighters came flying out of the sides, moving to attack the lions. He zoomed in to watch how the lions moved, amazed at how much Hunk and Pidge seemed to have improved since he saw them last.

“They’ve gotten better.” he stated, his voice distant.

“They had to.” Coran nods, “It was hard to get by without Keith and you.” He lifts his eyes back to the screen, smiling when the red lion shot by. “I almost forgot how fast it was.”

Keith was perfect.

Lance hadn’t expected any differently. Even with the 7-month gap, Keith maneuvered that battle field like he was born to, angling his lion at just the right time to have them colliding into each other, his speed unmatched by every other pilot. Previously Lance thought his flying was cool, or admirable, but watching it now made his blood pump madly.

He almost lifted a hand to fan himself, the words “Is it hot in here, or is it just Keith” close to forming in his mouth.

Instead, he tried to focus on looking at the Castle’s weaponry, trying to memorize what each button did so he could help the team out… But his eyes kept trailing towards Keith. Sweet Parlogs, he wishes he could be out there, fighting by his side.

“Team, they are sending another wave of fighters.” Coran warned.

“We need more firepower.” Shiro concluded. They shared a moment of silence, the same thought running through their heads. They needed Voltron. Pidge and Hunk were hesitant. Months of battle without Voltron had gotten them used to having to scrape through fights- they almost forgot how to even fight in that form.

“I say we try.” Allura insists

“W-Well… let’s give it a shot.” Hunk agrees.  

“If you say so.” Pidge says, hesitant. Keith hadn’t said a word on his end, only glanced at the screen to confirm he heard them. When they were quiet, waiting for his answer, he narrowed his eyes.

“I think it’s a dumb idea. We can’t.” it was blunt but to the point.

“You’ll never know unless we try. Team, form Voltron!” Shiro commanded. The lions angled upward, flying in formation, just as they always had when attempting to form the mighty warrior.

Lance bite his lip, hoping for the best, but knowing in his heart it wasn’t going to work. 10 seconds passed, then another- Hunk began to make nervous noises from his communication.

“W-We’re not forming voltron.” he stated the obvious.

“No duh, we can’t!” Keith snapped at him, pulling away from the formation. They were too deep into enemy fire to try and form Voltron any longer. It would just be a risk to continue on.

“Our bond isn’t strong enough,” Allura says.

“Well, what exactly did you expect?” Pidge says, irritated, forcing her attention back on the fighters. She had a point. Lance had hoped they could, just to get them out of the situation, but actually thinking they could form Voltron was unrealistic. They had gone months without being together, and when they were back together, a big gap had been gut between them with Keith and his relationship. Of course, they wouldn’t be able to form Voltron. It was expected.

What Lance hadn’t expected was for the Castle to suddenly shift, like an explosion had gone off below.

“What the Quiznack?” Coran panicked, falling back in shock.

“What was that?” he supported himself against the controls. Stumbling to his feet, the mustached Altean slammed his fingers to the controls to figure it out.

“We have damage to the lower haul. How is that possible?”

“Did some fighters get out here?” Lance lifted the scanners. They had been so focused on the fight they hadn’t even thought of some managing to get this close past the lions.

“No, not at all-” Coran cut off, lifting a security Camera. A small shuttle was hovering below the castle, right in their blind spot. Whoever was piloting it had just managed to cut a hole into the side and were coming inside. The alarm was blaring a moment later, warning them of intruders.

“Paladins. We have a problem!” Coran called to them.

“What is it, Coran?” Allura grunted, caught up in her fight.

“I got this!” Lance ran for the extra weaponry supplies on the bridge, opening it to examine what he had at his disposal. Staffs, spears- oop, there we are. He lifted a small blaster, twirling it between his fingers. It shared the same white color as the ship, the tip of it blue like Coran’s markings. “Where are they?”

Typing wildly, looking through every screen, Coran finally located the intruders towards the engines. There seemed to be only one, but he was tall, his face covered in a slick black helmet. “Located in the lower engines,” he announces.

Tossing on his helmet, Lance bolted in the direction. “Man the bridge Coran.”

“Be careful Lance!” he turned back to warn the others, “We have intruders on the ship!”

“Intruders?” Hunk gawked, “How?”

“I don’t know. There seems to be only one.” Coran shakes his head

“Can Lance and you handle them?” Shiro demanded. Lance was next to talk.

“You guys focus on your fight. We got this. Just make sure you get Lotor.” scrambling down the hall, he could hear Keith calling to him.

“Give ‘em hell, Lance!” There was a small pause, his tone growing gentle, “Be careful.”

“Will do, sweetheart-” he tries to catch himself, but it’s too late.

“Lance,” Allura grumbled.

“Slip of the tongue.” he shrugged. “Can’t take it back now,”

Keith laughed- it was music to Lance’s ears. Giddier than he should be as he ran to face an enemy, he sprinted to the elevator down to the lower floors. From there he located the intruder towards the back of the lower levels, trying to sneak their way through the halls.

“Hey!” Lance lifts his weapon, finding the weight of it to be different from his bayard. He forced it to work, “Don’t move.” with their back to him the figure slowly lifted their hands in a surrender motion, turning to face him.

“Lance!” Coran’s voice called from the intercom. “You got them!”

“Yeah. Who are you?” Lance demanded.

Their finger pressed a button to their helmet and it disappeared, revealing their face. It was a girl? Whoever it was, it definitely wasn’t like any Galra he had ever seen. She was colorful, smirking at him playfully.

“Never seen a paladin in blue before~ Where have you been, Kitten while your team’s been pulling all the work?”

“I've been busy.” he answered slowly, keeping his pistol trained on her. She tilted her head, amused.

“Wanna have some fun?”

He inhaled sharply when the intruder seemed to disappear right before his eyes. Taking a step forward, dumbfounded, he yelled when something cracked against his jaw. Flung back, feeling like he had just been punched, he lifts his weapon.

So, they were still here? They could turn invisible. Thinking it might have been cloaking of some sort, he stumbles to his feet. A second later a foot kicked his back and he fell forward. This went on for a while, each attempt leaving him pummeled against the ground. But he could slowly see it- the change in the area. Certain spots would become blurry, like the shadows were shaking.

It wasn’t invisibility, but more of camouflage- like a lizard. They could mask their appearance, but not perfectly. If he listened close enough, he could even hear their breathing right before they punched him.

With that thought in mind, he backed up to the wall, pressing his back to it. Clutching his pistol in both his hands, he closed his eyes and listened. With ringing ears, he forced himself to calm down- slow his breathing and listens.

He almost pushes up his glasses by impulse and quietly scolds himself. Focus. Listen to everything around you. 

The slight buzz of the hallway lights.

The dripping of his sweat hitting the floor.

A foot step. There!

He lifted his bayard and fired. The blast caught on something and the intruder's camouflage disappeared when they fell, their shoulders smoking from the blast.

She was growling, lifting a hand to grip her injury, eyes flaring in rage. When he fired at her again, she flipped back, eyes scanning the room quickly. She spotted the vents and made a break for them. Lance followed after her, firing at her feet to get her to stop- but she was too fast. She shot down the tunnels before Lance could stop her, escaping to the lower levels. Running, he peered his head down the ventilation shaft, cursing.

“Coran, I lost sight of them!” he called, booking it down the hall.

“Give me a minute to find them.” Coran scanned the cameras, eyeing each one for anything odd. Lance focus fell on his own heavy pants at the pause. His face had been bruised, but most damage he took seemed to be angled around his torso, which was well protected by his armor. He adjusted his pistol, moving in small steps down the hall, not wanting to start heading in one direction too much till he knew where he was headed.

“Coran?”

“Found them. The intruder is located three floors below you, heading towards the living quarters… Wait a tick?” Coran sounded puzzled, “This doesn’t make sense. The ship is reading a second- Wait…” There was a small pause, before Coran yelled, “Lance! There are two intruders-!” he was cut off. Lance froze, his blood running cold.

“Coran? Coran!!?” he called into his communicator. Realizing the enemy was on the bridge he made a break for it. Just as he was starting to get close, he was surprised to see the particle barrier forming around the castle. Why would Coran activate it if the enemy was already inside?

A tick later, Shiro was voicing his thoughts.

“Coran?” his voice called through the comms, heavy fire echoing in the background, “Why is the shield going up?” when there was no response, he tried again. “Coran? Lance?”

“I’m here,” he says, out of breath. “Something’s up. Coran isn’t responding. I’m heading to the Bridge now.”

“What’s going on over there??” Keith demanded.

 “Relax, dear paladins. Your atlean friend has simply fallen unconscious,

Lance froze in his steps, not recognizing that voice. It was deep, ringing to the ear like a silver bell. It would have been charming if there hadn’t been a snarky undertone to it- like the owner of the voice had just figured out something no one else had and was bragging about it.

“No…” He could hear Allura gasp in horror. “Lotor?!”

That was Lotor? Then the one infiltrating the ship…

“This was a set up!” he growled.

“You’ve figured me out, Blue paladin. But I’m afraid you are a little outnumbered here, alone in your pretty ship.”

“Princess, we can’t get in with that particle barrier.” Pidge started to say on a second line of communication, so Lotor wouldn’t hear.

“That is impossible…” Allura switched back to Lotor’s, “How did you activate the barrier? Only Alteans can manage that!”

“Yes,” he mused, “Only one of Altean DNA can work an Altean ship…” he left the train of thought there for them to figure it out. “Princess Allura, was it? I seem to have taken your ship, and it’s only a matter of time before I capture your Blue paladin. If I were you, I would start working on your speech of surrender.”

Like hell lance was going to allow that. He could confirm two people on the ship. Most likely, that first person he encountered was just a distraction so they wouldn’t notice Lotor getting to the bridge. Lance had handled worse situations with a lot more enemies. Of course, he couldn’t underestimate a son of Zarkon, and he had heard enough stories of his generals to give him nightmares…

“You lay so much as a finger on him and I'll rip off your head!” Keith snapped

Lotor hummed thoughtfully, “A little protective are we? I assure you, if he surrenders now, I will be merciful,”

“Not even in your dreams,” Lance hissed.

Keith was cursing on his end, switching to the other channel to call to Lance, “Lance! Are you okay?!”

“I’m fine.” he pressed his back to the wall, realizing the camera were probably in Lotor’s control and he was probably looking for him.

“Lance, are you able to get to the bridge?” Shiro demanded.

“I think so. From what I can tell there are two of them. If I can just get to Coran, he can turn off the particle barrier and-” he winced when heavy static crackled against his ears.

Connections were cut off.

He was on his own.

The Lions weren’t even able to get back to the ship! Of course, if the option was needed, they could easily take down the particle barrier themselves. That risked possible damage to the ship however, as well as anyone around the spots of impact. And it didn’t help that Lotor’s own ship was still in the distance as could easily surround the team in heavy fire if they tried to turn away from the fight.

They had fallen right into Lotor’s trap

Hunk and the others weren’t kidding- This guy was annoying! He knew what they were going to do before they did! The biggest problem was that he had full access to the ship's defense systems. He could open fire on the team if he so chose and fly the ship in any direction he wanted.

If he was able to activate the ship, Lance wasn’t sure exactly what else he could do. Perhaps even activate a wormhole?

Or was Allura only able to do that? He wasn’t sure if it was an Altean thing in general since it was always Allura who did it so he prayed that Lotor wasn’t able to. For now, he just had to get to Coran and pray he was alright. Knowing he had to be smart about it, Lance lifted his bayard. He would have to do some serious repairs later, but if he was going to get through this, he needed to get out of sight. He had lived on this ship long enough, even despite the 7 month gap, to know where each camera was, so he lifted his bayard and took aim.

Taking out the one in the hall he was in, he leaned against the wall to hit the one in the next hall.

He needed a plan and fast.

They had Coran, but from what he knew, Lotor didn’t tend to kill. That didn’t mean he couldn’t start, so he had to act soon.

The second intruder was last seen three levels below him, so he had a little time to avoid them.

The Bridge on the other hand would be a cinch to get to if he could use the elevators, but that made his presence too known. He had to take the stairs.

A full 5 floors. He hated stair cases.

Taking them two at a time, taking out camera or ducking around them as he passed, he questioned his plan here. Lotor must have expected him to aim for the bridge. It was the obvious thing to do so he could save Coran!

He froze mid step. Lotor was probably in wait for him up there with some plan. He couldn’t just walk in there. He stepped back a few steps, kneeling down to catch his breath. He had to think. What would Shiro do? What would Allura do?

...What would Keith do?

Probably the most unexpected thing- though that tended to be the expected thing for him.

In a situation like this, what was unexpected? To head away from the bridge, right? But he couldn’t do that- that wouldn’t help anyone.

There was only one entrance into the bridge, and that was the main doors to the back. The second he opened the door Lotor could easily flank him down. He needed to get in there somehow without being shot first thing!

A small squeaking caught him by surprise. Turning, lifting his pistol, he lowered it the second a small little head squeezed out of the vents. It was the mice! He had forgotten they were even here!

“Hey guys!” he smiled, lifting his hand out to them. They leaped into his palm, smiling up at him. Happy to see them, especially to know he wasn’t alone in this, he asks, “Have you seen Coran? Is he okay?”

The nod, one mimicking something along the lines of Lotor, while the second one lays on the floor, pretending to be tied up, but was making a big fuss about it. So he was alive, good.

“We need to get up there...”

The mice nod in agreement, leaping back to the vents. He peered in, seeing what idea they were trying to point at but shaking his heads. “There are no cameras, but the vents are too small up by the bridge. I’ll never fit all the way there.” He sighs.

The mice frowned, their tails flickering in thought.

The vents could have been his solution if he could shrink. They lead in and out of the place just like the tubes….

The tubes to the lions.

Lance gasped, a light bulb going off in his head. It wasn’t an easy climb, that was for sure, but there were no cameras anywhere in those tubes. If he could get into them without Lotor realizing, he could get to the hover bike and back track from the Lion’s hangar all the way to the bridge!

“That’s it!” he leaned towards the mice to tell them the plan. If they could get into the controls and mess around with the surveillance camera’s, they might just be able to pull this off.

With little salutes they took off to complete their mission. In return, Lance turned and ran in the opposite direction. If Lotor were to have seen him, he would have seen what appeared to be the Blue paladin fleeing from the fight instead of moving to face it head on.

And if he didn’t, either worked in his favor.

Stepping close to the hangar doors, he glanced at the camera’s and waited. They turned, following his every move. After a few minutes, a little too long for his taste, they fritzed and fell flat, going dead. He knew that he would only have so long before Lotor managed to find the problem and got them up and working again so he made a mad dash for the blue hangar.

He sprinted to the very edge of the area, pressing his foot the small elevator shaft and lowering himself down to the tunnels. Scrambling to then lined path the hover bike took to drive them towards the lion, he booked it down, watching as the silver walls began to turn to a tinted blue. Never used to having to run down this section, he moved quickly, lifting his head when he got to the opening leading up to the straight drop.

He used his jetpack to heave himself up to it, stopping from time to time and spreading his limps out in each direction to hold him in place. The strain to his muscles was painful to say the least

His body aches and sweat pool at his brow. He pushed through, managing to heave himself over the drop and to the spot where they tended to shot down from the moving bar. It was a large incline, but one he could manage compared to the drop. He used his jetpack to help get himself up a little faster- thank goodness for his jet pack.

When he reached the top, he put his hands on his knees, hunching forward to catch his breath. His eyes trailed up to the last drop, the one leading to the bridge. One more. Adjusting the pistol to his hip, he used the jet back to get up to the opening, then presses his knees firmly to one side and his back to the other. He had to be quiet at the point, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to save anyone if he rushed and got caught. So he moved quietly, inching along the wall, feeling the burning sensation deep in his stomach.

C’mon ab muscles!  

When his head bumped the top of the tub, he used his legs to support himself as he reached up to move the panel out of his way. Hoping to be as quiet as he could about it, he stepped into the small chamber and slide against the door. Squeezing a small opening to look in, he peeked inside

The bridge was undamaged as far as he could tell, but it didn’t take long to notice Coran collapsed on the floor, his wrists and feet bound. Anger boiled in him at the sight of his swelling jaw.

“He couldn’t have just disappeared, Ezor.” A voice caught his attention. Turning his head a little, he spotted a Galran. At least, he thought it was. As far as Galra went, besides Keith, he wasn’t as hairy as the others. He was taller than himself, but short for a Galran, with pointed ears and long white hair. It trailed down his back elegantly, curling towards the bottom of his black and orange tinted armor.

He turned, surprisingly looking less Galran than Lance would have expected for a son of Zarkon. His eyes were a deep and piercing blue, deep in thought and lined with a slight confusion to where the blue paladin could have possibly gone.

Next to him, the colorful alien from before, apparently named Ezor, was folding her arms, “I looked everywhere and the cameras can’t pick him up. Last place we saw him before the camera’s went dead was around the hangars.” she pauses, “You think there is an escape ship down there?”

“Even if he chose to flee like a coward, we would have noticed the ship. He wouldn’t be able to get past the particle barrier.” Lotor turned, rubbing his chin. “Check the engine. He may have gone down there to disable the barrier.”

“Isn’t the main energy source here, though?” Ezor motioned to the crystal, “He would need to come up here to stop it.”

“There are back doors to every system. Check the engines.” He commanded with a cool voice. Ezor nodded her head and ran off, leaving Lotor alone. Exactly like Lance wanted. He was leaning over the controls as Lance slowly pried open the automatic doors, slithering inside without a word. Well, he got this far.

The true test to all this was if he could actually take on a child of Zarkon. He admits to being hesitant, his hand stalling against his belt, holding off on grabbing his pistol. His heart was hammering, his tongue thick to the roof of his mouth.

He found his courage by looking at Coran.   

“Give it up, Lotor.” Lance growled. The prince tensed, but his eyes showed nothing but a poker face,

“How interesting. You managed to make it all the way up here without me noticing? How did you manage?”

“A good magician never reveals his tricks.” Lance grunted, “Now get to your knees.”

“Is that a command?” he teased, “Much too early to be requesting those.”

“Shut up.” he snaps, honestly just wanting to run over to Coran and make sure he was okay. “It's over, Lotor,”

He smiled, “It is?” He folded his arms, content, “Tell me paladin: you know my name but I'm afraid you forgot to state your own,”

Lance narrowed his eyes. He should have just ignored him, shot him where he stood, but he spoke up anyway, “Lance,”

“Like the weapon,” He mused,

Lance shrugged, “I suppose….” he slowly moved to his right, inching towards Coran, keeping his gun aimed for Lotor’s head. The Prince watched his feet carefully.

“He’s alive, if you are worried about that. I've learned that Killing seems to only worsen the situation over making it better,”

Lance was caught off guard, “Oh….” he agreed to that logic, he just never expected Zarkon’s child to hold the same views.

Stepping closer to Coran, he knelt down and pressed a finger to his pulse. He was alive like Lotor said and seemed to only be unconscious. He sighed in relief.

“I've always admired that about you Paladins,” Lotor announced. Lance eyes him wearily.

“Admired what, exactly?” 

“Your loyalty to each other.” He tilts his head, “Galra both lack and thrive in that- depending on the person. Loyalty provides insurance in your team. It's how an empire thrives.” He spoke almost philosophically, his gaze distant. It made Lance wonder exactly how similar Lotor really was to his Father.

Then, the Prince looks at him, gaze deep when he says, “How loyal would you say your friends are to you, Paladin?” It wasn't a question that should have stung the way it did. Lotor had no idea about Keith and him, or how the team reacted to it- he wasn't asking that question to make Lance hesitate.

But it did, and Lotor saw this. He raised his eyebrow curiously, “Do they show a lack of trust in you? Is that why you are here in your ship instead of out there?”

Lance grit his teeth, “You don't know what you are talking about.”

“But there is a gap of the trust between you and your fellow paladins. Did you do something?” Lotor smirks. He was trying to get in his head, Lance knew. Trying to get him to lower his guard. “Or is it perhaps that they did something to lose your trust?”

“Shut up…” Lance’s hand twitches and Lotor smirked,

“They did. Didn't they? In some way or another, they betrayed you,”

“Shut up!”

“Very well.” His eyes flickered behind Lance. Realizing something was behind him just a second too late, Lance turned.

Ezor surprised him when she appeared from behind, slamming into his back and flipping his entire body over her shoulder. Hitting the ground, hard enough to knock the air out of him, he gasped, his chest convulsing, desperate to take a breathe. His helmet rolled to the side when he fell, and he rolled to avoid Ezor’s.

Dizzy for a few seconds, he stumbled to his knees, lifting his gaze. His eyes locked with Lotor, and the Galra prince hesitated. Something odd flashed in Lotor’s eyes,

“You…” Lance saw the chance and leaped to his feet, kicking his leg out. Slamming it into Lotor’s chest, catching the Galran prince off guard, he hit him back into Ezor. The two crumpled to the floor in a pile.

Lance took aim with his bayard and fired a moment later, barely able to graze their armor before they were ducking to the right, rolling behind a chair.

“Incredible…” Lotor lifted a hand to his chest, amazed at how sore it felt. It was quite a kick, if he did say so himself. “How interesting!” He felt a rush, some sense of excitement in facing this new paladin. He had never encountered the Blue one before today, and had to wonder why that was. “You are strong, paladin. I shall give you that.” he calls from behind the chair.

Lance didn’t reply, stepping back slowly to make his way to Coran. When he got close enough, his pistol trained to the chair, waiting for the two Galran’s to pop out, he knelt down to his friend.

“Coran.” he shook him.

The altean stirred slightly, “Lance…”

“Yes, that’s it buddy. Come on.” he put a second too long into Coran, lifting his head a moment too late before Ezor was upon him, using her camouflage to sneak up on him. Her foot collided with the side of his face. For a moment, he saw stars when he slid across the ground. By impulse, his kicked out the moment colors flashed over his eyes, managing to snag her in the face. Her nose made a snapping noise and she fell back, shrieking.

During this time, Coran had lifted himself up from the ground, regaining his consciousness. Looking to see Lance and the Galrans in the midsts of a battle, he slowly inched his way to the controls. Moving like a worm with his tied hands, he pressed his chin to the chair and heaved himself up, leaning his body weight to the panel.

“Just a little-” he tapped a few buttons with his nose, “There!” clicking one final button, the particle barrier began to lower itself. The battle froze the second it did, both sides knowing what would be happening next

It wouldn't be long till the paladins returned to the ship and out numbered the Prince and his general.

“Lotor!” Ezor called to him. With one last glance to his shoulder, watching Lance closely as he ran to help Coran up, he smiled. Without another word they ducked out of the bridge and made a break for their ship.

“They’re escaping!” Coran called.

“No they aren’t!” Lance scrambled after them, grabbing his helmet as he passed and placing it on his head. Racing down the hall, he charged after the two. They were faster than him, making it back to their ship long before he could ever hope to take a shot and stop them.

He was forced to watch as they took off, managing to get a few shots to the haul of their shuttle, but definitely not enough for any decent damage.

When they fled from the ship, the Lions appeared a few seconds later.

Keith attempted to give chase, but Shiro called him back.

Several times.

In fact, Keith was so close to simply ignoring their leader, which he never did, if Lance hadn’t called him back instead, saying that Coran was hurt. Rushing inside to check on their friends, re-activating the particle barrier to get them out of there, Allura tossed off her helmet.

With both sides retreating, they were able to take a moment and check everyone’s well being.

“Coran,” she slide next to him, examined the wound he had taken to the head, “Are you alright?” her hands were shaking, worry making her eyes water.

“I’m a-okay, Princess,” he assured her, “Especially with Lance here.” Keith was gathering said paladin into his arms and no one could stop him, fussing over him with wide eyes.

“Are you okay? Did you get hurt?” he cups Lance’s face, turning it back and forth to examine him.

“I’m okay.” Lance assures him. “That Lotor guy didn’t stand a chance,” he gives a charming smile and a thumbs up. “What about you? You guys were the ones out there going at it against the fighters.”

“We managed,”

It heartened Lance to see Keith smile. “I’m just glad you were okay.” Lance’s fingers touched his jaw, lifting them to cup his face.

“It’s nothing we couldn’t handle,” Keith assures him, leaning into the touch. Allura cleared her throat, giving them a pointed look.

Keith flipped her off.

She might have been insulted if she knew what it meant, but Shiro sure did, and gave Keith a smack on the back of the head. Keith turned to retaliate, only to be stopped by Lance’s hand on his shoulder. Only calmed by the blue paladin, Keith stepped back to cool off. In the end, that was as far as the conversation went. They discussed needing to be more careful, shared some thank you’s and good job’s to Lance part- but overall, it was just kind of bland.

Lance was glad everyone was okay, and he knew they felt the same- but there was nothing to celebrate about today. They fell into a trap, almost lost their ship, couldn’t form Voltron- today was the worst.

Like a cracked record, Lotor’s words bounced around in his head.

“If you all don’t mind… I’m going to go to bed.” Lance announces, raising his hand. The team never tried to stop him, but as Lance sauntered out of the room, Pidge and Hunk followed his form with their eyes, then shared a look. Slowly trailing their eyes to Keith, several emotions crossing their faces. They felt perplexed, and more about their own feelings to the situation.

They had felt happy when the two were able to reunite, almost finding the interaction cute. It was a very sudden and new take on the relationship the two had that had startled them.

They weren’t sure how to act about it.


 

“Hey,” Lance says into their secret intercom later that night, “Are you mad?”

“No,” Keith says on the other line, “At least… not at you.”

“I figured… ” Lance pauses for a few second, “I”m glad you are okay,”

“Me too. You took on Zarkon’s son head on and beat him.” Keith sounded so proud, grinning from ear to ear, “You’re amazing, Lance.”

He turned into his pillow, smiling, “No I’m not,” he tries to play if off, “You took Zarkon head on once,”

“I lost that fight. Horribly lost.” Keith sighs, “And I had the red lion. You didn’t even have your normal choice of weapon. It makes me want to come over there and kiss you like the hero you are.”

Blushing, Lance bit his thumb, half tempted to say Keith should do exactly that, but holding himself back.

“Lotor was smart…” he says instead. He pauses, softly saying, “He can read people easily,”

“What does that mean?” Keith asks. “Did he say something to you,”

“Nothing I don't already know,” Lance sighs. “I'm sorry you guys couldn't form Voltron,”

“You don't need to apologize for that. It was stupid we even tried after everything that has happened.”

“Yeah…” Lance hugs his pillow close to his chest, wishing it was Keith. “Maybe I'll get in some flying time with Blue tomorrow,”

Keith exhales, “You should have been out there today, not Allura. It didn't feel right without you.”

“Blue lets her in, so… I trust Blue’s judgment,” he concluded

“I don't,”

“Keith…” Lance feels exhausted, and it must show in his voice

“I'm sorry. I just- I should let you get some sleep,” he whispers to the comms, and Lance almost feels like Keith is right here next to him.

“I love you,”

There is a long pause, and when Keith replies, he sounds a little choked, “I love you too. So much, Lance,”

Lance falls asleep to the sound of Keith’s breathing through the comms.


 

“We were so close.” Ezor sighed, tapping her fingers against the table she sat at.

“Yes,” Lotor nods, his voice distant. “We were.” As much as the failure should sting, his mind was on another matter.

One concerning ocean blue eyes covered by a horrid scar. That sneer was still tormenting his mind and he wasn’t sure why. That Paladin had been more than he first expected. He was strong and resilient- which were very charming qualities in his mind.

Something about that spark he had was crawling deep under his skin and refused to leave.

“The Blue paladin...” He says over his shoulder.

The generals pause. “The Princess?” They ask.

Ezor shook her head, “No, the one that wears blue.”

They were perplexed. “I’ve never seen one that wears Blue before.”

“In fact, I’ve never even seen the red lion till today. That sure was a surprise.” Acxa admits.

“Indeed.” Lotor agrees. “For a short time both the Blue and Red lion were missing, then only the red one.”

“I thought they always had all five paladins, which is how they formed Voltron?” Zethrid grunted.

Lotor rubbed his chin. “Perhaps two were off somewhere for a while?” he mused. “That Blue one was quite formidable. In fact, these new paladins both seemed to be quite the troublemakers.”

“The red paladin was a very skilled pilot.” Acxa agrees. Lotor was smiling, and he wasn’t sure why. Yes, both had been quite formidable in their own ways. It had made the bland mission one that he could remember fondly, despite having ended in failure. He hoped that he would see that Blue paladin again soon.

Chapter Text

With Lotor being untraceable for the time being, the team took a small rest in a quiet galaxy towards the edge of Zarkon’s empire. Shiro had suggested that they try to regrow their bond through piloting, and try to work on forming Voltron again.

Lance thought Allura would suggest herself to fly Blue and was very surprised when she asked him to.

"Don't you want to go out there?"

“With Zarkon blind to our location, now is the best time to get some practice in since you haven’t had a chance to pilot,” Allura tells him. Hesitant at first, he agreed and got into his gear.

Landing in his shuttle a few minutes later to head down to his Lion, he eyed her warily with his approach. He had spent so much time on sparring and hand to hand combat that he hadn’t had a chance to even take their lions for a test drive, let alone fight in combat with them.

He just hoped he wouldn’t embarrass himself out there.

Those worries faded the moment he sat down in his seat, sliding up to the controls. Gripping the handles, he felt a wave of familiarity and Blue purr against his mind.

“Hey beautiful,” he cooed, “Ready to do this?”

She rose, roaring into the hangar before shooting out.

Lance cheered as they spun out of the castle, forgetting what it felt like to pilot. This rush… he had missed it.

“You doing okay, Lance?” Shiro asks from the comms.

“Better than okay,” He shot around Hunk, who chuckled.

“It’s like you never left,”
Lance was half tempted to tell Hunk not to be friendly with him right now but he let that thought go. He was too happy to just be flying again to stay mad at them anyway.

“Alright, let’s work on some flight maneuvers to give Lance a chance to recall all the controls of his lion, then work on forming Voltron,” Shiro instructed.

“Right,” everyone agreed. Once Lance started to relearn how to pilot his lion, it didn’t take long to recall everything from those months lost.

Lance and Keith cheered, forgetting what it felt like to do this. They felt powerful, in sync.

They flew around for at least an hour, practicing their moves and recalling how to fight as a unit.

He just had to get used to the speed and general body size of the lion. He almost ran right into Hunk when passing him.

“Sorry,” he called.

“It’s fine,” Hunk assured him.

“Just don’t freeze us, Lance,” Pidge tells him.

“It would be funny if he did,” Keith grumbled. He hadn’t meant for Lance to actually do it…

There was probably one, or maybe two seconds of silence before Pidge was screaming, the head of her lion frozen over from the ice beam. “LANCE!!”

A wail of laughter quickly followed. If Pidge wasn’t busy nose diving because she could see past her screen, the team would have been shocked to hear the Red paladin cackling in such a way.

Lance’s ears were in heaven at the sound, grinning at Keith through the screens peering into their lions.

Okay, so it was childish, and probably severely mean. Lance knew this, and honestly, he wouldn’t have done it normally- but he couldn’t help it right now.

Shiro’s voice was deep when he barked at the Blue paladin. “Lance! We are supposed to be bonding right now!”

“I am bonding.” he explained. “Keith said it would be funny, and look- it was funny. Perfect bonding moment between us two,”
“I feel closer already,” Keith snickered. “Ice looks good on you, Pidge.”

“Looking ‘cool’ Pidge,” Lance tells her.

Keith snorts and turn to Pidge, firing his own Lion to unfreeze it. Pidge sighed in relief, looking at the screen testingly. Then… her lips curled, almost like she was about to smile and laugh with them.

Lance held his breath, and then Shiro spoke.

“Team!” he barked. “Let’s show a little maturity here and focus. I know we are all a little stressed and we wish things could be better between us right now, but we need to focus. Let’s work on maneuvering around each other at our fastest speeds so we don’t run into one another during battle.” reluctantly the team agreed and they started moving their lions in circles, picking up the speed.

Lance began to find the drill boring after a while.

“Good reaction time team. Keith, you’re slowing down,” Shiro announced. The fastest lion of them all, Keith’s lion seemed to be moving at the same speed to the Black lion, which definitely wasn’t normal. Keith hardly replied at his announcement, giving the camera a sour look.

Lance frowned.

He would be passing by Keith here soon….

He adjusted his controls, speeding up his lion just a little more. He could see Keith getting closer and an idea sparked within. The closer they got, the more Lance began to tilt Blue, “A little bit more...Anddddd angle it just right~” he suddenly bumped into Keith. Blue slide against the side of the Red lion, and Keith let out a yell of shock followed by a grunt when his lion was pulled back.

Not sure what happened he looked back to see Lance had intertwined the tails of their lions, causing them to spin in a wild circle.

“Lance,” Shiro says

“By accident~” he insists, “This could totally be a new attack. The spinning lions of death!”

He could hear Shiro sighing, the very definition of disappointment. He wanted Lance to take this seriously and be a more mature member of the team.

He wanted Lance to be strong out in the lines if Allura could not.

Lance understood that, but Keith has said an approximate of 20 words today. 20 words!

He never talked to anyone if he could avoid it, he only stared at his feet- Lance didn't want Keith to fall back into how he was before. The team didn't know- they didn't see the change Lance saw.

They were used to this Keith, but Lance knew better. Keith had grown gentler. He wanted to talk and be approachable and he had been that was on Iespion. He wasn’t some loner… he just had trouble connecting with people sometimes. He had loved talking with Dravla, Tellru, Ruru and all the other Coeihns.

It was obvious to Lance just how much Keith wanted to become good friends with the team when they first found him. But he was hurt.

Lance was too.

So he didn't care if it made him look like a fool in Shiro’s eyes- he was going to get Keith laughing and smiling if it killed him.

“Spin master~!”

He could hear Keith laughing, but it was faint. A quiet nose like a snicker- like he was trying to hold back but he just couldn't do it.

“Both of you separate this instant,” Allura commanded from the castle, not happy one bit. Lance defiantly held the spin for a few seconds longer before deciding it was best to pull apart. When he tried, he found himself unable to move.

“Oh well great, now we are actually stuck,” he sighs. Keith was howling on his end of the transmission.

“They’ve been hooked by the tails~” Coran says in a deep voice like a sports announcer

Lance swears he thought he heard Hunk, and maybe even Pidge giggle a little bit. It made him happy.

He should be mad at them. He shouldn't care if they found this funny and he definitely shouldn't be happy that they found this funny.

But he did.

He wanted everyone to smile and just be happy in the scarce moments they could be in this war.

Hunk slowly flew up to their tails, voice high pitched, “H-Here, let me help,” he giggled, pawing at their tails. It did little to help.

“Come on, Hunk,” Lance laughed

“I’m trying~” he covers his mouth, laughing into his palm.

“Team,” Shiro sighs.

“We might need some space butter,” Pidge suggested.

Lance threw his head back and laughed, “What even is that?”

“Space butter! Butter for space,” Pidge came up to their tails, pressing the head of her lion to them. She didn’t move. Keith was looking up, arms crossed, his smile crooked.

“How is that supposed to help Pidge??”

“I’m calling upon the energy of the universe to separate you two,” she insists. The four of them share a laugh, and man, it’s great.

Lance wonders why it couldn’t just be like this? Why did things have to be complicated?

“Team!” Allura yelled at them. The mood snapped in two, everyone’s expressions dropping, “It will only be a matter of time before Zarkon arrives and you still haven’t learned how to form Voltron! Separate, now!”

Lance gave her a sour look, moving his controls to try and get free. Not sure why they were stuck together, he could see Keith’s hands slowly moving. Red’s tail suddenly untangled, and Lance realized Keith had been purposively holding on- keeping them together.

His heart swelled, his smile sad, but he said nothing.

Getting back into training, the mood dull from a few minutes before, they flew in silence.

“Good formation team,” Shiro says, “Now-” he sounded hesitant, “Let’s form voltron!”

A moment later, they were moving, their lions angling up.

“Alright, stay in formation,” Shiro instructed. Lance held his breath as they shot upward. He wanted to form Voltron- he did. So he closed his eyes, squinting them shut and quietly wished for a miracle.

Making wishes only got a person so far though, and he found himself simply flying upward for a good couple of minutes.

“We didn’t form voltron,” Hunk says, dejected.

“Of course we didn’t!” Keith snaps, pulling away from the unit, similar to the day before during their try with Allura present. The team return dejected, landing in their hangars and sauntering out- looking awful.

“Alright, let’s take a small break and get back out there team,” Shiro tells them, attempting to stay optimistic.

“And do what? Not form Voltron again?” Pidge sighs.

“We tried,” Shiro says.

“And we failed,” Keith concluded. “No surprise,”

“Keith, we don’t need attitude right now,” their leader sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. Keith seemed to take this like a challenge however and his eyes flared.

“I wouldn’t give it in the first place if it wasn’t for you,” he jabbed a finger out, “We would probably be able to form voltron too if it wasn’t for all of you and how you have been!”

Shiro lowers his hand, jaw set, “Keith, not now,”

“When is a good time then? You expect me just nod my head and just go with whatever you say?”

“We need to focus on defeating Zarkon-”

“Exactly!” The red paladin barks, “That should be our focus!! So how come all you three seem to care about is what’s going on between Lance and I?”

Lance lifts his hand, not wanting to start such a heated argument with all of them so tired. “H-Hey-”

“Not now, Lance!” Shiro turned to snap at him. Keith was quick to his defence. You never yelled at Lance. He had done nothing wrong.

“Don’t yell at him!” Keith stepped forward. To Lance’s horror, he realized he was going to punch Shiro and quickly stepped forward to stop him.

“Keith, no!” he snagged his wrist, pulling back.

Keith froze, looking back at him in surprise, “But he-”

“Starting a fight won’t do anything,” he fingers slide down, pressing to Keith’s fist. Looking down, he slowly uncurled his fingers and wrapped them around Lance’s.

With a squeeze the two stepped back, the fuse on this bomb too short for anyone’s comfort.

“L-Let’s just calm down,” Hunk offered,

“Yeah, we’re just tired,” Pidge says softly. Shiro looked over the team, eyes growing heavy. He nodded, running a hand up and through his bangs.

Opening his mouth, perhaps to tell them they were excused, or perhaps to apologize, Lance would never know, for Allura had walked into the room.

“What are you all doing in here? You should be out there, re-learning how to form Voltron,” she snapped irritably.

“We’re trying,” Shiro tells her gently, “The team needed a break.”

“We were out there for hours,” Pidge added with a yawn. Lance felt reminded of those first few days they were at the castle. How all of them had been tossed headfirst into training- Allura expecting all of them to have it mastered in a matter of hours.

Back then, she had tried her best to get them to work as a team- and secretly had them look to her almost as an enemy to help grow their bond. Well, she was definitely an enemy now- but it wasn’t an act this time.

“Just lazing about will get nothing done!’ she scoffs.

“Pushing ourselves past our limits isn’t going to help either,” Shiro tells her firmly, “We haven’t had 5 lions for months and Lance and Keith haven’t had a chance to get used to their piloting fully yet either. Things like this take time.”

“Zarkon will give you no such time,” she says curtly. Her gaze turned to the Blue and Red paladins in question. “As for you two-” her gaze snapped to their hands. “Separate,”

“No,” Keith growled, his hand tightening around Lance’s.

Allura stepped forward, taking this sign of defiance unwell, “I said separate, right now. You two can’t seem to handle being together. I am very disappointed in the behavior I saw out there. You two were goofing off instead of taking the training seriously,”

“We took it seriously,” Keith disagreed, his eyes heavy.

“Your spinning lions connected by the tails says otherwise,” she jabbed a finger at him. He barely batted his eyes at her. He was too tired to even try.

Lance could see it from the moment they had breakfast that Keith hadn’t seemed to sleep that well the night before. He was sluggish, his movements slow in training compared to the day before. “I expect Lance to be at a lower skill set than the others, but I know you are still up to par with them, Keith. Today your movements were lazy, uncoordinated, sloopy-”

Keith opened his mouth, a dark look in his eyes, “What exactly is that supposed to mean?”

Allura hesitates for a moment, narrowing her eyes. “Exactly as I say. You aren’t giving your full effort-”

“No,” he holds up his hand, “About Lance,”

The paladin in question was pale, hurt by Allura’s words then shocked to Keith’s defense towards him. “K-Keith, it’s fine-”

“No, it isn’t.” he steps towards Allura, furious,

“Lance has put his all in for this team since coming back and you just insulted him.”

Allura arches her eyebrow, “He’s goofed around in training, has taken nothing serious-”

“Right here,” Lance lifts a hand to remind everyone he was present for this talk. His chest felt painfully tight. “I take this team very seriously,”

“I don’t see that,”

“Allura,” Shiro tries to calm her, “Lance has been putting in a good effort considering the circumstances-”

“Are you saying he doesn’t distract Keith with his antics? He doesn’t purposively go out of his way to draw Keith’s attention to him instead of training?” she turns to him so suddenly he goes pale. Opening his mouth, he slowly lowered his gaze.

“He does that.”

“I do it to get a laugh, yeah- but that’s just because Keith needs it,” Lance steps forward to defend himself.

“So you admit you do it on purpose??” Allura seethed.

“Because he needs it!” he motions to Keith, “He- Look at him! He looks like a zombie walking around!” he turns to Keith, his tone turning gentle, “Have you even been sleeping well?” Caught off guard, Keith averted his gaze, shrugging meekly.

"If he is having trouble sleeping then he can come to Coran for sleeping pills." Allura rolls her eyes.

"Oh, right. Cause that will help the issue. I can’t rely on any of you to try and get his spirits up, so I do it!” Lance says.

“Lance,” Keith says softly, not even realizing that is why he had been doing it. It was actually very touching, but hurt to know Lance put himself in bad light just to get him to laugh.

“You’ll never form Voltron if you can’t focus,” Allura is back to yelling, pointing at Lance. “Your immaturity is endangering the team!”

“What team?!?!” he motions around, “This? This isn’t a team. I’m not the reason we can’t form Voltron. If I was, you guys would have been able to do it when you were flying!! Oh wait, that’s right. Even when you were the Blue paladin, you still couldn’t form Voltron!”

Allura stepped back, as if Lance had slapped her.

“We can’t form voltron because this stupid team is in shambles!” he roared, his blood pumping like hot lava in his veins. He was so angry…. He had never felt this angry in all of his life. “So what is the point of having two blue paladins if neither of us can do it?? Honestly, it’s probably better you are the paladin instead of me. You're, as you say, ‘mature’ right?” he takes off his helmet and tosses it to her, “If you think you are better at this than me, then maybe you are right. Maybe you are. So you take it, Allura. You are at better standings with the rest of the team anyway! We probably have a better chance of forming Voltron with you since you aren’t pissed off at everyone else in the room, minus Keith and Coran, like I am! And I say Coran because he is an amazing mustached man!”

On cue, Coran’s fluffy mustache seems to puff out, eyes wide with everyone’s quick look in his direction.

“I….” Allura’s voice cracks weakly, “What are you saying, Lance?”

“I’m saying you can have it,” he is already ripping off the armor, chucking it to the floor. The team flinched with each heavy crack that followed. Keith was holding arm up in the air to stop him, but couldn’t seem to form the words.

“S-so you’re-?” Hunk trailed off.

“That’s right Hunk. I quit,”

“You can’t do that…!” Allura shakes her head.

“I just did! You can pilot Blue, Allura. So you don’t need me,” he is grinning, feeling like he might throw up. How could he feel both defeated and victorious in one stead?

Standing in just the undergear, he gives a peace out sign to the team. He turns to leave- wait wait.

He back tracks, snagging Keith’s hand and tugging him along.

When he tries to walk off with the fumbling red paladin, Allura attempted to stop them, but he cut her off. “Not a paladin,” his voice overtops hers, “Your dumb code doesn’t apply to me,”

“Lance,” Shiro is narrowing his eyes. Looking self righteous, his eyebrows rising like they always did when he was about to lecture them, Lance cuts him off with his hand.

“Not my leader anymore, definitely not my Dad- I don’t have to listen to a single thing you say,” he lists them off one by one, taking the time to watch Shiro’s mouth falling open. He left them then- stuck in their utter shock, jaws hanging open and eyes wide.

Lance wondered if he would regret this later, but right now, running through the castle halls hand in hand with a shocked Keith- it was totally worth it.

“L-Lance… Lance!’ Keith is calling him frantically, his tone panicked. Lance pants, not even realizing how long they had been running. Aimless with no set location, he tugged them into another hall.

“What?”

"You can’t do this!”

Lance stumbles to a stop, confused, “Why not?”

Keith gulps for air, “Because piloting is everything you have ever wanted!”

“I don’t want to spend another day apart from you Keith,” he releases his hand and turns to face him. Parlogs, Keith was so beautiful. Creamy skin framed too perfectly by black tousled hair. His eyes shining like the stars themselves.

He is talking for a while before Lance returns his focus to his words, “Allura doesn’t deserve to be the blue paladin. You do,” he grips Lance’s arms. “I don’t want you giving this up this dream because of me!

“This dream isn’t worth it if you can’t be in the picture,” his voice comes out clear, certainty ringing through every word.

Keith falters, “I don’t-” His eyes flicker downward when the Blue paladin steps closer. One step, two- their noses touch. When Lance brushes his mouth against the corner of Keith’s it takes every ounce of the not-inconsiderable restraint he’s established to fend off the urge to kiss him and tug him into the closet bedroom.

“Lance,” he warns, voice hushed to a whisper. They are looking at each other, too many emotions fighting back and forth in their eyes to come to a reasonable conclusion. The seconds tick by like heavy bells banging against each other in their chests.

Keith’s voice cracks an octave, a cue for Lance to surge forward.

He cuts off whatever Keith was going to say the moment his mouth slides against his- their first kiss in days. One second, two, Keith’s eyes are sliding closed. Pressed against the wall behind him, the two pulled back gasping. Keith can hardly think before he is tugging Lance back in.

The buzz in their heads was blinding and before they knew it, Keith’s upper paladin armor had been removed and they were straddling each other on the floor.

“Wait…” Keith finds enough sense to pull back a few inches. Lance follows after him, blocked by Keith’s hand between their mouths. “I can’t let you do this,”

“Kiss you?” Lance pouted.

“What? No. No you- you can do that whenever you want,” he swallows, “I mean letting you quit being a paladin.”

“If I’m a paladin, I can’t kiss you. I can’t hug you or cherish you,”

The brush of Lance’s hand to his cheek breaks Keith’s heart. It wasn’t fair. It could be so easy to just let Lance quit and keep him by his side, but it wouldn’t feel right by him. Lance could say he was happy with the choice now but what if down the line he grew bitter from it?

“You’ll regret it.” he insists, “You’ll be mad at me for tearing you away from it.”

“One, I would never do that,” Lance pokes his nose, eyes narrowed, “And secondly, I’m doing this for a lot of reasons, Keith. The team needs you a lot more than they need me,”

“That isn’t true…”

Lance wasn’t sure he could ever believe him on this, “You heard Allura. She is a better pilot than me anyway. They don’t need me.”

“I need you on the team,” Keith cups his face, “I don’t care what Allura thinks. She’s wrong,”

His heart hurts, feeling like if they kept talking about this, he might not be able to contain the tears he so desperately wanted to shed. “Sweetheart,” he pleads with him, lifting his chin, “Can’t we talk about this later?”

The red paladin’s eyes waver, “Why later?”

“Because right now I want to kiss you and make up for lost time,” Lance can see the argument dying off, hidden away to go back to later. Because they would definitely be talking about this later. Keith was stubborn like that.

But for now, they were happy just to kiss the other senseless.


 0000---0000

The next day things were both great and fantastic- which hadn’t been something he could say about the recent week. Lance didn’t care about the looks Shiro and the others gave him as he walked into the room, hand in hand with Keith. They didn’t like it then boo hoo for them.

He was able to kiss, snuggle, or flirt with Keith whenever he wanted now. Best part, Allura just let it happen. Mostly.

She seemed like she wanted to argue it sometimes, but with the code not in play she had no power over them. So she just let it be, going back to her own responsibilities.

Keith, on the other hand, was being a little difficult. He seemed to adore this time with Lance, but the blue paladin could practically feel the guilt oozing off of him.

He was blaming himself and despite how much Lance tried to tell him it wasn’t his fault, the mullet was stubborn.

Of course, Lance also had to find something to do with his time as the team did their training exercises. He wandered the halls at first, then took to Coran, asking him to show him how to castle worked. It was extremely complicated, as he assumed it would be, but Coran did his best to explain it in a way he would understand. 

At least he got some alone time with Keith. That is what made this all worth it. 

That is untill Keith started to get grumpy with him about who was supposed to be the Blue paladin or not. 

"Keith," Lance pouted at him, moving his hair to the side to lather the back of his neck with kisses. Keith refused to look at him, staring out the window into deep space. "I want attention."

"I want you to be a paladin," Keith countered. 

Lance groans, "Keith~"

"I mean it."

Folding his arms, Lance turned away, "Fine. No kisses then."

A decent 5 minutes passed before Keith was tugging on his sleeve, cheeks flushed, "I... I want kisses,"

Lance smiles, "You gotta drop this Paladin thing then."

"I can't. Using kisses against me is cheating," he frowned. 

Lance considered that as he reached out to grip Keith's chin and turn his head upward. Sharing a small kiss, they pull back smiling. "How was that?"

"I still call it cheating," Keith says. his heart starting to pound heavily against his rib cage. He inched closer, taking Lance's face into his hands. 

There is a smile, "At least I'm not a thief."

Keith was taken aback, "I've never stolen anything."

In response, Lance's eyes fluttered shut, his long lashes fanning over smooth skin, “You stole my heart,” he said, and the softness in his voice almost undid Keith. Lance wasn't allowed to be corny like this and have Keith melting at his words alone. He was so cheesy.

Keith loved it. 

Their lips touched and that was it. All the self-control he’d exerted over the past two weeks shattered. Lance's arms came up around his neck and he pulled him against him, Keith's hands flattening against his back. Lance kissed him fiercely.

Prepared to sink into this moment, Keith heard a soft slide of the door in his ears, and it jolted him back to reality. He pulled away from Lance to turn his head. Shiro stood at the door, eyes wide and frozen. 

A second passed before his eyes washed away any emotion to signify how he might feel about the display. "It's time for training, Keith."

Keith kept eye contact, his hand tightening to Lance's hips. "I'll be right there."

Shiro's voice was tight, "Now, Keith."

There was a moment of disobedience, Keith challenging their leader with his eyes to try and get him to leave- but Lance's soothing hand to his shoulder was the final deciding factor. He got to his feet, leaving Lance along the couch towards the western hall of the castle to stare at the stars alone.

Knowing they were heading towards their lions to go attempt to form Voltron once again, he stayed where he was so he could watch them. It took only a few minutes before Coran was screaming over the intercom. 

His voice was loud and panicked, calling for aid from the paladins. 

Something is wrong with the Blue lion!” 

Lance's breath caught in his throat. He shot off of his seat, dashing down the hall. 

When he finally got down there Blue is roaring like mad, jumping around the hangar bay in a tantrum. Lance had never seen her move on her own before now- especially not in such a show of aggression. “What happened?!"

“I do not know!” Allura says, staying close to the sides to avoid the wrath of the lion “I tried to go in for training and then she suddenly went wild!”

The team quickly ducked to the side when Blue tossed herself over. 

 "Is she hungry??" Hunk asked. 

"She's a robot, she doesn't eat!" Pidge says. 

"Coran??" Shiro called upward. Coran was looking over his scanners but couldn't seem to find anything affecting the mighty beast. Allura did her best to quell her Lion, but her words didn't seem to reach it all. 

"She isn't listening to me..."

Lance cupped his hands around his mouth, "BLUE! You gotta stop! You are destroying the place!!" a few seconds passed, then Blue froze. She turned slowly, her yellows eyes locking in on Lance's form. He tensed for a moment then smiled. "Hey beautiful. Hey," he lifts his hands up gently. "It's okay. You are safe- but you gotta tell us what's up. Why are you doing this??"

Blue moved closer, sitting in front of the paladins. 

Then, like a hungry hungry hippo, a game Lance enjoyed a lot as a child, Blue's head shot out and swallowed him up like a little ball. 

The screams that followed were almost comedic if he wasn't seeing his life flash before his eyes. Death as a chew toy for a giant killer lion. Was she mad at him? Upset that he had quit?

“Lance!” Keith yelled when Blue lifted her mouth, tossing him deeper down her throat. Sliding down the metal, her jaws clamping down, entrapping him, Lance rammed into the back wall. He groaned, making a tight noise.

The next thing he realized they were moving- or more of flying? Getting to the pilot seat to see what was happening, he realized they were out of the Castle and shooting into space. “What the- Blue stop!” he stumbled to the seat, struggling to sit down.

 Lance screamed when Blue shot to the left without his meaning too. “Blue?! Blue stop!!!"

She was booking it, angling down to the planet below, moving through an asteroid belt.

“Lance?” Shiro called in shock from Blue's communication set, “What’s happening?? Are you alright??"

Lance tugged on the controls but they seemed to do nothing for his situation. He reached forward to click the button, pulling up the screens connecting to the other Lions. The others were leaving the castle as they spoke, attempting to follow, “I don’t know! Blue is acting on her own- AGH!” they ducked right again, almost slamming into an asteroid. 

Keith was already turning his Lion, attempting to follow after him. Since he was faster and more skilled, he was able to maneuver through the asteroid field with ease, catching up to Lance in no time. “Lance??”

“I’m fine, it is just Blue-” Blue did a nose dive and they were moving around the planet, Keith hot on their tail. “Girl! Where’s the fire?! What’s up?!” he shrieked. Up, down, left right, swirly motions- Lance was starting to feel sick. "Gonna... throw... up..." he covered his mouth, gagging. 

Tossed in his chair, almost falling out several times, they suddenly started to pick up speed and he realized it was because they were entering the atmosphere of a planet. Not even sure how long they had been flying, he pressed a hand to his controls.

Static echoed around him, making it virtually impossible to contact the team.

Was Blue kidnapping him??

A few minutes later they were landing, and Lance was stumbling out, pissed, “What…. In the world?!” he gasped, turning to jab an accusing finger at his lion. “I just reunited with the team- we can’t just ditch now!!” Blue didn’t respond. "Are you ignoring me?! We gotta go back!!" He yelled and hollered, ignored completely. Stomping his feet angrilly, he yelled whatever he could think of, not understanding what his lion- what.. what Allura's Lion, was trying to do. "Blue, we gotta go back!"

Blue turned. Recognizing the sound of approaching engines, Lance followed her gaze upward. To his surprise, the Red Lion was coming down for a landing. 

At least Keith was able to keep up with him, but none of the others seemed to follow. The black and yellow lion were too big and too slow to keep up with his pace, and Pidge still wasn’t as expert a flier to maneuver here way through an asteroid belt.

 “Lance!” The jaw of the red lion opened and Keith leaped out. He ran out to meet him, chucking off his helmet. Lance lifted a hand in greeting, almost falling over when Keith barrelled into him.

“What happened?” he cupped his face, looking for damage, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he smiles, "Blue didn't do anything. I mean, she never would. She just kidnapped me.... I guess." he shrugs. 

 They sat there for a while, the situation sounding strange, even to them. Looking up at the accused kidnapper, they titled their heads. "Blue?" she didn't respond, though it wasn't like she could talk. Confused, Keith took Lance's hands and helped him up. 

“We should get back to the castle-” He jumped when Blue suddenly fell over like a dying cat.

“BLUE?!” Lance freaked, running up to check on her. Placing a hand to her head he was desperate for a response. Her thoughts echoed in his mind... She was the epitome of drama queen, insisting that she couldn’t go on and was seeing the light. He faintly heard the thoughts of something like “Guess Keith and you will have to stick around” or something like that. Wait.... what?

“I can give you a ride back in my lion and we can get to the castle. It’s too big to get through the asteroid field so we’ll have to go around it. That’ll take some time but we can come back for Blue,” Keith offered.

Lance faintly heard him as he took a look at their surroundings.

The planet they had landed on was peaceful, covered in heavenly flowers. They stretched out to the distance, moving over a few hills that eventually changed to yellow sand.

An ocean lay beyond that.

The gears were moving in his mind, Keith’s words fading away.

Curiously, he looked up at their lions, “You brought us here for a reason, didn't you?” He smiles. Keith stops tapping on his helmet, confused

“A reason?” He frowns, “What possible reason-?”

He cuts off when Lance reached between them, intertwining their fingers. The sensation was startling, sending sparks up Keith’s spine.

He doesn't even have a chance to breathe before Lance is stepped forward to embrace him. He melts into him, his chest loosening.

“Lance?” he whispers into his shoulder, sinking into his arms.

“We get a moment alone,” the other smiles, “I missed you, Keith,”

His fingers tremble, clawing up Lance’s back to curl into his hair. “Oh…” he glances up at red with a similar realization, “I've missed you too,” pressing against him as hard as they can, he chuckles weakly,

“Kidnapped to go on a date- what sassy lions we have,” Lance snickers,

“Yeah…”

They fell into each other’s arms and kissed like they were coming up for air after being underwater for days. The melding of their mouths was sweeter than oxygen. Together they took huge, deep gulps of each other as they struggled with worldly constraints like clothing and gravity, seeking to transcend it all in their coming together.

“I’m thinking some legit poetic stuff right now,” Lance murmurs against Keith’s lower lip.

“L-Like what?”

“I can’t even remember now, something about gravity and transcending. I’ve missed you,” Lance manages to gasp through the small parting of their lips.

“Me too,”

They had seen each other all day, but to Lance, it felt like it had been an eternity since he was truly able to have Keith here with him.

“Wanna go on a stroll down the beach?” Lance grins.

“I would love to.”

With small smiles, the took off into the sand. Keith was so dashing in his paladin gear. It highlights his hips, broadened his shoulders and chest- showed off his legs nicely. 

"What?" Keith asked when Lance had stared just a little longer than usual. 

"You look nice," Lance nuzzled into him. "So, what's up lately? We haven't had a chance to talk."

Keith, who seemed to have a pact of silence all week, was a chatterbox during their walk along the shore. Hand in hand with Lance, he talked about how much he had missed piloting red. How he forgot how fast she was or what their bond felt like.

He talked about hating the goo but liking the stuff Hunk made, talked about getting lost in the castle because he forget where everything was, showed Lance the Star Guider watch in person, showing the different information and fawning over it.

He just had so much to say but no one to share it with. Because Keith had gotten used to that.

In the last 7 months he got used to telling Lance about every little thought that came into his head instead of just keeping it to his thoughts like he used to.

He did the same with Tellru, Dravla and Ruru because they didn't expect him to be quiet. They didn't give him weird looks if he suddenly laughed a little too loud at a joke, or smiled just to smile.

He know understood why Lance was the way he was. Why he talked so much.

It felt good to talk to others.

But he didn't feel like talking with the team. He didn't want to, and when he did try, they thought it was strange. To them, he was the grumpy loner....

Sometimes he thought that was all Shiro expected him to be. Of course, before Keith was grateful that Shiro accepted even despite being that. He just wished Shiro could understand that he didn't always want to be that. He wanted to change and be a different person, and being with Lance inspired him to do just that. 

"It's not the same if you aren't out there..." his voice grew soft. Lance's hand tightened. 

"Keith," he sighs. 

"I mean it," he turns to face him, refusing to let this go. "You are the Blue paladin. Maybe Allura is able to do it too, but that doesn't mean you aren't any less important. Blue picked you first,"

Lance lowers his gaze. "I can't be with you if I'm a paladin Keith."

Keith steps closer, gripping his shoulders. "We'll figure that out. They can't stop us, Lance. But I don't want them or even me to be the reason that you stop piloting." He looked up at Lance with those sparkling eyes that had swept him up the first time. Perhaps Keith had a point but... If he was going to even consider being a paladin again, he was going to make sure he soaked in every second he could.

"Keith..." he gripped his hips and pressed him backwards. The paladin helmet slipped from his fingers and fell into the sand. 

Keith was startled when he was shoved against the side of a tree. Gulping when Lance placed both his arms at the sides of Keith’s head, pinning him, he blinked up at him with wide eyes. “W...What are you doing?” he asks, his voice weak and raspy.

Brushing the side of Keith’s face, Lance whispers between them, “I want to show my Equivalent how much I love him,” at this, Lance leaned in impossibly close, the slender muscles in his forearm flexing as he bent his elbows, bringing himself closer, their lips almost touching.  

Keith grew legitimately concerned that his heart might explode.

Even though they’d been together all day, Keith couldn’t get over the feel of him- Of Lance. His taste, or even that potent, delicious smell of his neck.

“S-Show me,” he pleads.

Lance smiles, kissing him softly before saying, “Keith, I adore you," he murmured, his eyes hazy, “And your views. I think of you as an equal. My equal. I respect your brains, your spirit, and all those crazy conspiracies you like to think about. But I also want to rip your clothes off and have sex with you until you scream. All the time.”

Keith’s blood was boiling, his breathing already sounding more like panting. So many details were coming into focus that Keith couldn't process them all in the time had had. The shape of Lance’s lips, the line of his neck, the slight curl of his hair peeking out from behind his ears.

“What are you waiting for then?” he challenged.

Pressing together, they kissed. Minutes passed, perhaps even an hour, Lance's jacket and the top of Keith's armor has been tossed to the side. If Lance assumed correctly, he knew where this was headed. He could see the urge in Keith's eyes, and was willing to give it to him, but he heard a faint beeping. Their eyes slide over to the helmet, a blue light blinking, showing they were getting a call. 

The team was getting close.

"We... should probably head back," Lance whispers.

"Yeah." Keith stood, cheeks flushed and raven hair tousled. To Lance, he was so beautiful that it made his soul ache. He wished desperately that Keith could always look like this during the day, with that look in his eyes. There was a softness in them that he rarely saw at other times- a total and complete vulnerability compared to his normally guarded and analytical outlook.  

At the same time, Lance didn’t want anyone else to see this side of Keith.

Taking his face into his hands, he kissed him, murmuring, “I love you,”

With that smile that sent his heart racing, Keith mused, “Me too,” Collecting the top of Keith's paladin armor, Lance paused. Instantly he grinned mischievously and threw it on.

A few moments later Keith stops, looks down to see that his chest plate was around Lance's chest, “Give it back,”

“Give what back?” he muses.

“You have mine, give it back,” Keith tells him, trying to reach for him. Lance is already running.

“I don’t see what you mean!” he cackles, “This is totally my armor. I mean, don’t you see how snug it is on me? Squeezes me in all the right way!

“Lance!” Keith yells, despite grinning from ear to ear, “Don’t make that sound dirty!”

When Keith tackled him, they rolled into the sand laughing. Falling onto their backs, taking a few more minutes to themselves, they sigh content. "Why can't it be just like this?" Keith asked quietly. 

“I don't know. I wonder why relationships aren't allowed in the paladin code,” Lance admits

Keith shrugs, “Probably decided a long time ago,”

“But why?” Lance frowns, “I mean, it wasn't the Lions who decided it,”

“Huh?” Keith asked

“The lions choose their paladins, but Blue and Red have been completely supportive of this. Blue was thrilled when I told her,”

“Red too,” Keith agreed, nodding slowly. "They uh- geez, they don't shut up about it." 

Lance chuckles, “So then, obviously it wasn't the lions who decided this dumb rule.”

“It was the Alteans,” Keith realized

“Yeah, it has to be. But why? I just- Allura was so…”

“Mad?” Keith grumbled, pissed just at the thought of her

Lance shakes his head, “Well yeah but she also seemed…” he trailed off not sure how to describe it,

“Furious?"

"No,"

"Over exaggerating?"

"No." Lance sat up. He spoke softly, "She looked afraid,"

Keith tilts his head, staring at Lance for a long time, “What would she have to fear from this?”

“That is what I would want to know,” Lance tightens his grip on Keith’s hands, “I just wish I knew why the paladin code was decided that way. I don't know if it'll change anything, but maybe knowing would help me convince Allura.”

“I don't see why you have to ‘convince’ her of anything,” Keith says sourly, “She made her choice. She picked a dumb code over us and that's that.” Hurt resonates in his voice and Lance takes him into his arms. “The entire team… Shiro…” he buries his face into Lance’s chest, “You should have seen the way Shiro looked at me…”

“What do you mean, sweetheart?”

Keith sighs, “It was like… he looked like he couldn't believe his eyes that I could love someone. Or that someone could love me. Am I that unapproachable to him?”

“I don't think that's it, Keith. I mean-” his attempts die, because the fact is, he doesn't know what Shiro is thinking.

He truly believes that Shiro is doing this for their sake or the sake of the Universe. He has to believe that, or it'll just hurt too much.

“Just a little while longer and this will be behind us,” Lance says

Keith blinks, his eyes downcast, “Will it?” He mumbled, “Will it truly just be over and we can just move on? I don't know if I can't just… Forget that they turned against us. That we had to go through all of this because of them.”

“Keith,”Lance whispered, not realizing just how upsetting this was to him.

Or

Perhaps Lance just didn't want to think about it. He wanted to believe that everything would just be fixed by the end of the few weeks, but would it? Would he ever move on from that sting he felt in his chest from all of this?

He wasn't sure.

“Sorry,” Keith squeezes his hand, “I don't mean to bring the mood down,”

“No, it's okay. You're right. I guess we just have to- wait till then and hope for the best,”

“Yeah…”

 Getting to their feet, arms wrapped around each other, they made the march back to their lions. 

When they returned to the castle, Allura scolded them. “Why didn’t you contact us?? We were worried sick!” The team swarmed them with similar expressions. Lance felt guilty at the tears in Hunk's eyes. 

"We thought something happened! We thought it was..." he cuts off, his voice growing soft, "We thought it was like before... Where we wouldn't be able to find you." Pidge reached her hand up to touch his shoulder. 

"Oh... I-I'm sorry Hunk. Guys. Blue cut connections for a little while." he bows his head. 

"The lions wanted to give us some time together," Keith explains, folding his arms. There was a small pause. Allura and Shiro seemed to tense. 

“Nothing happened between you two, right?” she frowns.

“I couldn’t possibly know what you mean,” Lance tilts his head and smiles, cause like hell they needed to know details.   

“I do,” Keith raises his hand, oblivious

Lance gives him a long look, side by side with Allura’s furious one. Blinking once then twice, naive as ever, Keith steps back

“Oh, we were playing dumb,”

“Yes, sweetheart. Yes we were,” Lance pinches the bridge of his nose

“Ah,” the red paladin's nod, clearing his throat awkwardly, “Then I also don't know what we are talking about,” he gives Allura a blank face and Lance is keeling over, because it's too late.

“She knows Keith. She knows,”

“Oh, then good, cause I made out with Lance a lot while we were gone,”

“Sweet parlog!” Lance shrieks, not realizing Keith would just openly state their activities, “Keith, shhh! Shhh your mouth!!”

Allura doubles over in shock and Shiro looks close to blowing a gasket, his eyes wide. Keith beat him to the catch, and Lance knew what he was going to say before he even opened his mouth.

That spark of defiance in his eyes was the best warning he could get.

“Lance pushed me against a tree and-”

“No!!” He tackled him to the floor, blushing furiously. “Not this time, Keef!!”


 

 -0000--000--

"Lance, my boy, you don't have to stand next to me during this. You can go sit in your seat," Coran motioned to his old seat along the deck of the Castle. Lance shook his head, feeling like that would be imposing. 

"That's Allura's seat now. She is the Blue paladin." he tells Coran, folding his arms behind his back, mimicking the mustached Altean. Coran titled his head with a soft look. 

"Allura still stands there within the center of the room, so it is okay for you to sit at that spot." he informs him. That might be true, but it didn't feel right for Lance to sit there. He wasn't a paladin. 

"I'll pass."

With nothing else to be said, Coran looked down to the comms. The paladins were shooting down to their lions as they spoke, heading off to start some well needed Lion training. There was a catch however. 

The Blue lion had lifted its particle barrier and was refusing to let Allura inside. 

“What?” Allura looked up at Blue, confused, “What is the matter now??” she pressed her hand to the force field,

Lance pressed his finger to the speaker, “Allura, what is going on?”

“It’s the Blue Lion. It’s not letting me in,” she moved around it, frowning.

“Did you try giving it a knock? Blue likes being greeted with knocks… or knock knock jokes,” he tells her. Allura tries, but nothing seems to work.

“Knock knock,” she says to blue. The Lion doesn’t respond. “Is that not how the joke works?” she mumbled to herself.

“Who’s there,” Lance attempted to help her.

Allura looked to the camera, perplexed, “It’s me, Lance,”

He slaps his forehead, “N-No, no sorry. Do you know what a knock knock joke is?”

She blinked as his response. It was naive and cute, how Allura usually was with many Earth customs. Lance bit his lip when he felt a bubble of affection in his chest- like how he felt with his own siblings. He didn't want to feel that way with her. So he cleared his voice and attempted to be stern- which was hard, given the situation. 

“Okay, follow my lead. I’ll say knock knock, and you say, who’s there. Ready? Knock knock,”

“Who is there?” she folded her arms.

“Boo,”

Allura was quiet.

“Now you say, Boo who?”

“Boo who?” she repeated.

“Stop being a baby Allura,” Lance burst into a fit of giggles, and the Lion roared. Gawking over her shoulder at it, she stepped back. 

"Did it find that funny??"

"Allura, that is comedy gold~ Of course Blue found that funny," Lance snickered. 

Allura attempted another one of Lance's knock knock jokes, but it was no closer to lowering the barrier. But, it did seem to respond to Lance's voice. “I- Lance, I think she is wanting you,”

“What?” he blinks a few times. "No she doesn't."

"Yes, she does." Allura lowers her gaze. "Will you come down here and try?"

Lance opened and closed his mouth, looking at Coran. He shrugged, motioning for Lance to get a move on. "I...I’ll be right down,”

Placing on the Blue paladin armor, he shot down the tube similar to how Allura did. When he arrived, he took one step towards Blue and the barrier shimmered away. Allura and him shared a glance. 

"It..." she swallows, voice tight. "I believe it wishes for you to be it's pilot, Lance."

Lance shook his head, "But you're the Blue paladin."

She steps back, bowing her head. "I do not decide that Lance. The Blue lion does." she looked upset, but was willing to step down. "I can't be selfish in who pilots what lion. Only accept what the Lion wishes..."

"Allura..."

"Go on." she turns to head back up to the deck. "They are waiting for you to train." 

He could do nothing else but nod and enter Blue. When he shot outside to join the others, they were all perplexed. 

“Lance?” Shiro questions, “Where is Allura?”

Allura responds on the communicator a moment later, standing on the bridge and looking out to watch them, “The Blue lion wouldn’t respond to me, so Lance went instead,”

Lance patted the controls thoughtfully, “What’s up with you, huh girl?” he inquired. The Lion allowed Allura to pilot before when Lotor attacked. So what was the issue now?

Closing his eyes to inquire the problem, he could feel the Lion’s thoughts. It was like he could see threw Blue’s eyes, recalling yesterday morning.

He could see Allura and himself, looking so much smaller. Allura was yelling at him, scolding him for holding Keith’s hand. Blue hadn’t known of the deal they had made with the team, and learning the information had angered her.

“Oh…” he opened his eyes, feeling Blue’s frustration and protectiveness in waves. “Blue,” he smiled softly. So he did have more than just Coran on his side.

Well you are the Blue paladin, not Allura,” Keith says, not very subtle in the way he made sure Allura could hear him pointing that out.

"So then..." Pidge trailed off.  

“The blue lion doesn’t accept Allura any longer,” Lance concluded, “Which means... “

“You are the Blue paladin once again,” Shiro finished for him. Lance leaned back. He felt happy to hear that- but there was one problem with being a paladin.

The code.

The choice between piloting the lion or Keith. He could never choose anything over Keith.

Before he could voice this, Keith was speaking up. “That is how it should be,”

Allura slowly folds her arms, looking like a pouting child. She inhales, then says, “Shiro is right. You are the Blue paladin, Lance. You must take up the title.”

“We can’t have any more goofing off though,” Shiro gives him a stern look, “We have to be able to form Voltron before we take Lotor on again,”

He opened his mouth, his words falling flat. "B-But..."

“The universe needs you, Lance.”

He turns, his worry evident on his face when the video connection with the Red Lion appeared on his screen, “But Keith-”

“I’m not going to let some dumb code tear you away from me,” he smiles, “Allura can throw everything she has at us- My feelings are never going to change,”

 In rebuttal she snorts, "The paladin Code cannot be broken."

"Are we seriously still on that??" Lance demanded at her. "After everything you've seen from the last two days...?"

"It was the law of my people and my Father, Lance. I shall follow it as Princess of Altea." 

The good mood Lance had felt before depleted within a second. Are you serious...? He looked at Keith through the screen. There was a tight look in his eyes, but he smiled. 

"Welcome back, Paladin."


000--- Lotor---000

 "Prince Lotor," Acxa placed her hand over her chest and bowed to him when she entered the room. He turned to her, nodding. 

"Any news?"

"The paladins of Voltron have not been located. The rebel forces have been catching most of the empire's attention. It seems that Voltron has been untraceable."

"I see." He snapped his fingers, summoning the rest of his Generals. A soldier had brought every known recording they had of the paladins for observation. Together, the generals and him watched the footage, watching closely in how the paladins fought, learning their styles to the best of their ability with the resources they had

Since they knew nothing of the blue or red paladin other than the blue seemed to prefer shooting type of weaponry, they were thrilled to find two old recordings taken from a galran ship of the two.

The red paladin fought with a sword, and seemed to be able to fight valiantly with both hands. His moves were precise and strong- holding nothing back and almost brash on his impulses.

“He fights like a Galra,” Zathrid grunted. 

Lotor leaned forward, “Interesting,” his eyes spotted the blue paladin and lingered. Not one for close combat, he was quick on his feet. Lotor could see his head moving constantly, surveying the area and keeping track of his team.

He watched over them, taking out soldiers before they managed to even get close to his allies. It seemed too often leave him open for attack, but he could always get out of the situation. A large team player kind of person. 

"Lotor." Ezor pipped in, "If you don't mind me asking, why are we watching footage of the paladins?"

"Obviously to learn their fightings styles and hold an edge against them in combat," Acxa said automatically. Lotor nodded. 

"That is the reason. With the Rebellion forces growing, Voltron stands at the center of their allies. They are a beacon of hope to the people. If they were to fall, the rebellion would fall with it."

"Then our plan is to take down Voltron?" Zethrid grinned. Lotor shook his head. 

"No, that is not the plan at all." 

His generals shared small confused looks. They did not understand their leaders plan. "Then... what is the plan?" Ezora asked. 

Lotor's lips curled in a smirk, "We are going to use Voltron to gain what we need. With the power we have, we have no hope of completing our goals. My Father will assure that. However, if Voltron can step in and distract him, perhaps even get him out of the way, then we can finish our objective."

Narti lifted her head, her cat flickering its ears excitedly. 

Acxa's eyes widened, "Do you mean...?"

"Yes. As I promised all of you when I first met you, I will take you away to something better." His gaze wandered over all four of them, standing tall. They swallowed and narrowed their eyes, hope burning brightly. They bowed to him, willingly following in his plan. 

In this life, all they had was each other. 

Chapter Text

“Can you insert this screw, please?” Pidge requests, handing the large screw over to Lance. Taking it, he walks over to the machines to see where Pidge meant.

 “Here?”

“Yeah,” she nods absentmindedly.

 “... Where?” Lance smiles innocently. “I’m not sure where you mean.”

“Right there, Lance,” Pidge doesn’t bother to look over her shoulder.

 “Still not sure. Keith, do you know where?” Lance asks in a way that makes Keith thinks he is part of those kids shows and Lance is trying to get the children watching the show to participate.

 “Can you tell me where this large screw goes?” Lance holds it up. Keith walks over to him, oblivious and just to help.

 “I’m not sure, Lance,” he says, unsure what game Lance is playing at. Pidge groans behind them. “Where did Pidge say to put it?”

 “I dunno~ You should help me figure it out~” Lance grinned.

 “Are you serious?” Pidge grumbled at the blue paladin.

 “We are taking this very seriously, Pidge,” Lance chides her, grinning. “I’m just having Keith show me where the screw goes.”

 “I don’t see why I have to show you where to put the screw, Lance.” The red paladin tilts his head, confused. “Don’t you know where?”

 “Oh, I know where I could put my screw,” Lance wiggles his eyebrows, leaning towards him.

 “Why are you doing that?” Keith hits his shoulder lightly, “The slot is right there. You just have to pick it up and slide it in-” He gasps, eyes widened. “Is this another sex innuendo??”

 As soon as the words left his mouth, Lance quirked his lips into an arrogant line. Keith bit his tongue, his face flushing.

 “Really? Did you just say that to me?” Lance muses. “So you’re saying, all I have to do is just line it up...and slide it in. You know, Keith-”

 “Don't do it.” Keith cut him off. Lance twirls into him.

 “Do what?”

 “Say something dirty. I know you're dying to, but just put the screw in.” Lance lifted up the screw and made a big show of inserting the tip in the hole. Keith smacks him, and Pidge yells at the two of them that she has a lot of work to do and if they weren’t going to be helpful, then they could just leave.

 Lance made a pouty face, shaking his head at her. Glancing back at the two, she watched as Lance quietly nudges Keith. He looks flustered, smacking Lance’s hands away. Lance eyes flare with a challenge.

 There is a pause between them then Lance lightly slaps Keith back. A second later, the two are hitting at each other’s hands like children.

 It reminded her of before, when they hated each other. Accept, she could see the love in their eyes. The playful spark as they tried to one-up the other in good fun. 

Their grins quickly faded when Shiro and Allura walked into the room. Separating, going in different directions, Lance returned to Pidge to ask what else she needed from him. He had no other means to distract himself.

 Taking pity on him Pidge gives him a few pieces of machinery to put together for her. It wasn’t difficult, but at least it was time consuming. 

Taking the project to the other side of the room, especially since Allura wouldn’t let him sit next to Keith, Lance got to work.

 Pidge found herself constantly looking back and forth between the two. They both seemed to distract themselves with whatever they were doing, but the fact was that neither seemed to be happy. She frowned to herself as she scaled the small ladder leading up to her latest creation. A sort of beacon they could sent out, like a larger mars rover. It held enough space to carry supplies, but was small enough to be considered debris when picked up by scanners of Galra ships.

 She had just started to attach a screw to the top when the ladder shook. Caught off guard, she felt her body fall backwards.

 “Pidge!”

 A moment later, Keith caught her, both of them crashing back. Keith was cradling her head to his chest to stop it from cracking against the metal ground.

 “Are you both okay??” Lance and Shiro were running towards them. The second they hit the floor, Keith yanked her back to examine her, his breathing heavy.

 “You have to be careful!” He says, turning her face from side to side to check for injuries.

 “I- sorry,” she reached up to push her glasses up, surprised that he had reacted so fast to catch her. “I was lost in thought…”

 “You got a big brain Pidge, but it won't do you any good if you space out and get yourself hurt!” he pauses. “We don’t want you getting hurt.” his tone is surprisingly gentle, helping her to her feet, “You sure you’re okay?”

 She nods, stepping back. Looking each other in the eye, an awkward silence fell between them. She cleared her throat,

 “Thanks,”

 “We are just glad you didn’t hit your head from that fall.” Shiro says. “Maybe we should have someone stick by the ladder next time you try to use it.”

 “I can do it.” Keith offered immediately. Shiro stared at him for a moment.

 “Fine. Just… be careful from now on.” He said.

 “Maybe if you weren't messing around, this wouldn't have happened.” Allura huffed, crossing her arms. No one knew exactly who the comment had been angled towards, perhaps all of them, but Allura had been very snippy lately and it wasn’t boding well with the team.

 “Would you lay off?!” Keith snapped.

 “Keith.” Shiro said in warning. The two glared at each other, sparks flaring. Lance stepped in between them. This seemed to be the norm lately. The line between calm and rage was too thin amongst the team since their return. It just seemed to worsen with each passing day.

 “Ok, guys. We're fine. No messing around. Got it. You can go now.” Lance said, making sure there were a few feet of space between him and Keith, even though it ached. Shiro looked unconvinced while Allura’s face was red with anger. Shiro finally sighed.

 “Alright… we'll come back later. Let's go, princess.” He said, ushering the pissed off Altean out of the room.

 Once the two left, Lance whirled on Keith faster than Pidge could even comprehend. Sliding to lean against the table, Lance leaned down, lifting Keith’s chin to stare at him. Caught off guard, Keith blinks at him.

 Pidge felt embarrassed and looked away, ears still listening to what they were going to say.

 “Have you been sleeping okay? You look a little tired,” Lance noted softly, brushing his thumb softly to Keith’s chin. Relaxing his shoulders, the red paladin leans into the touch.

 “Been a little restless,” he admits.

 “You didn’t eat that much this morning too.” Pidge frowns, worried, “You doing okay?” 

Keith shrugs. “I dunno…” Lance had noticed Keith had lost a little weight lately, but every time he managed to ask or point this out, Keith told him it was nothing.

 “Please try to eat something, ok?” He asked, tucking a stray hair behind his ear. Keith looked at him for a moment before nodding deftly. That made him feel a little better.

 With shared smiles, they stared deep into each other eyes. This went on for as long as Pidge could bare before she started to feel awkward.

 “Ok… guys, if you're done making goo-goo eyes at each other, this decryptor isn't going to fix itself.” She said, tossing the small machine to Lance, which he caught with a grumble. Keith chuckled.

 “Yeah yeah, madame brainiac.” Lance sighed, plopping on the ground with some tools while Keith sat next to Pidge to help her with what she was working on.

 A few hours later, Coran’s voice came over the speakers, telling them to meet at the bridge. Once everyone was there, Coran clapped his hands together.

 “Alright team, we got some supplies we need to gather before we can move on. To save as much time as possible so we can meet up with the rebellion, we’ll be splitting up into three teams.” Coran slide in front of them, pulling up the screen.

 “Hunk, Allura and I shall be heading here to speak of a treaty between the Yalview people.”

 “Their strategic position will help secure this area of the galaxy and gain us a small footing against Zarkon’s empire. They are a very stubborn race I’m afraid, so it might take some time. We will leave as soon as possible. If you all finish your missions before we are done, you are welcome to join us at Yalview.” Allura adds. Hunk quickly raised his hand.

 “And why am I coming along with this?”

“Your diplomatic skills have proven quite useful Hunk,” Allura smiles at him. “You would be doing us all the biggest favor by joining us.”

 He lowered his hands, cheeks tinting from the praise. He smiles sheepishly, “Well uh- if you insist, I’ll do my best.”

 Coran smiles, “Shiro and Keith shall be heading to the Fralc sector to help escort three ships to the planet Vilrek. They have crucial medical supplies and have asked for our aid to assure it gets to Vilrek safely.”

 Shiro and Keith nodded. “You can leave it to us, Coran.”

 “And finally, we’ll be sending Pidge and Lance to this section.” Coran pulls up the screen to show a very barren looking planet.

 “Why there? There is nothing but rock.” Pidge questions.

“Nothing much on the surface, true, but you two will be going below the surface. This is a mining mission.”

 “Mining?” Lance asks.

 “Yes, for Tarja crystals. They aren't quite as powerful as Balmeran crystals, nor come as big, but their energy and properties could help us improve our particle barrier as well as many other functions on the ship,” Coran explains

 “Alright, cool,” Lance nods his head.  

 “Now that everyone has their assignments, go to your lions!” Allura announced.

 “Let’s go, Keith,” Shiro motions for him to follow. When Keith walked around Lance to follow Shiro, Lance snagged his wrist in passing. Without the notice of anyone but the green paladin, Lance lifted Keith's palm to his face.  A blooming blush spread over Keith’s cheeks when Lance kissed his knuckles, shooting him a charming smile.

 With a sheepish one, filled with adoration, Keith slipped his fingers away slowly, giving him a small wave of goodbye.

As he left, he cradled his hand close to his chest, cherishing the lingering warmth of Lance’s lips.

 Shiro was waiting for him on the other side of the door. Keith shot him a menacing glare as he walked by, before stalking ahead to his lion.

 “Keith-!”

 “I don't want to hear it!”

-----

 Pidge and Lance were in their lions, heading to Tarja with little difficulties. The silence was thick, making Pidge shift in her seat. They hadn’t been able to just talk to each other alone since Lance and Keith came back from being gone for so long. Not that they really got along that well in the first place, they could at least poke fun at each other.

 Pidge missed that. Missed being able to just goof around with Lance. No tech talk, just them being dumb teenagers together.

 “Hey… Lance?”

 “What's up?”

 “You know… you know I'm not against you, right?” She asked, hoping to get across that she was shocked at first, not expecting the two that hated each other and vanished to come home in love. Lance sighed, a bubble of anger starting to form.

 “Your actions tell me otherwise.” He said, his voice monotone.

 “I was just… shocked. I guess. I mean, you two were at each other’s throats when you left. And then you come back as a couple? It was a total 180 for you guys.” She explained, not wanting to strain the last bit of a connection she had with him.

 Lance understood. He knew what he and Keith used to be. He sort of got where Pidge was coming from, if anything at all.

 Yet there was still this nasty feeling curling within him. Taking a breath, he turned to the screen to look her in the eyes. “It was shocking when I learned you were a girl, too. That didn’t change how I thought about you. That didn’t change how I thought you were a capable genius pilot. Yet me being in love with Keith seemed to change something for you- at least enough for you not to stand up for me.”

 “Lance-”

 “I don’t expect you to understand every little thing I do, Pidge. I don’t expect you to understand how I feel, or understand why I love Keith- that was between him and me. But as your friend, I thought I could at least count on you to respect my decisions, instead of standing against them. Pidge you- none of you even gave it a chance.” Lance looked away, hurt evident in his voice.

 “Lance.” Pidge’s voice strained, the pain in Lance’s eyes coming right back around and hitting her in the heart. Being in love and things like that never made any sense to her. You could say it was just from being so young that of course she’d be missing knowledge on it, but things like romance had never interested her.

 Seeing it from Lance and Keith was just something she couldn’t process. Not because they were both boys, or because they were her friends, but just because to her it didn’t add up that two people who hated each other would grow to love each other. Emotions were never something she could say she was a expert on unlike Hunk.

 Perhaps even now, she still didn’t understand how Lance and Keith could love each other. She didn’t understand how anyone could ‘be in love’ with each other. She loved the team, her family- but being in love sounded so strange and unknown.

 However, she never intended to hurt anyone.

 “I’m sorry, Lance.” she says softly.

 “It's fine, Pidge. Don't worry about it.” He said in a way that made it impossible for Pidge to know if he meant it. The silence from then on was awkward, Lance hoping to get to the planet as soon as possible so they could get this over with.

 When they arrived they put on their helmets and set their lions down on the edge of the planet. It was a barren world, with many holes lining the surface. It was obviously a place solely for mining, but Lance wondered if there was ever any actual life here?

 “Okay, the crystals we need should be right below us.” Pidge pulled up her screen, looking over the rough schematic of the planet’s tunneling system. “The deeper we go the more detail the map will be. We might have to go a ways if the upper tunnels have already been mined.”

 Lance nodded, taking out a few high tech altean mining drills Coran had leant to them. Handing one to Pidge, they shuffled down the closest tunnel, keeping an eye out for any crystals popping out of the surface. “How many of these things do we need exactly?”

 “Depends on the size, I guess.” Pidge kept her eyes on the screen. “If they are big we won’t need many. If we can’t find those, we might need a large load of little ones.”

 “Works for me.” twirling the drill, Lance entered the next tunnel. It delved deep into the ground, the darkness thick enough that they needed to turn on the lights attached to their armors. Halfway down to where they were hoping to find the crystals, light began to filter around them.

 Lance thought that perhaps they had taken a wrong turn and were making their way back to the surface, but it wasn’t natural light they were seeing. The source was from little machines someone had attached to the wall, illuminating the area in a deep purple light.

 “Those suppose to be there?” Lance motioned to them

 Pidge shrugged, unsure. “I don’t think so? If this is normally a mining planet, perhaps the last person here just left them?” the designs of the machines looked familiar to both of them, but not in a good way.

 Turning his head, Lance followed the trail of lights, stopping short when he heard a massive clicking sound. More sounds followed, echoing through the tunnels till they found the source.

 Galra sentinels, drills in hand, we lining the walls, busy at work.

 “Are you kidding me?” Lance hissed as he ducked down, Pidge following his example.

 “What is it?” she whispered.

 Lance lifted a hand to silence her. Taking a few seconds to be sure, he peeked around the corner to confirm what he saw. A galra sentinel was just about to pass by them so he squished them against the wall. It was carrying a bucket of crystals back up the tunnel where it came from. A few more sentinels followed, mining the area dry.

 “It’s the Galra.”

 “All the way out here?” Pidge couldn’t believe her ears. “There are no platoons stationed in this area. Why are they here?”

 They got their answer a second later when a very colorful looking Galra rounded the corner. She smiled at the process, saying a few orders to the robots. Lance bristled, remembering her from the castle when Lotor tried to take it over.

 “No way…” Pidge shook her head, peeking out to eye the all too familiar Galran general. “Lotor is here? What are the chances??”

 Lance glanced at her. “What do you want to do? Get out of here?” he frowned. She sighs, glancing back around the side. Quietly she looked down the tunnel they just came from. They could easily just go right back and avoid all of this but…

 “We haven’t gotten a single crystal.” she says. Lance nods in agreement,

 “I don’t want to come all the way out here just to run with our tails between our legs.”

 “Then we sneak around them, grab some crystals, and leave?” she asked. “Or- should we take this as a chance to take out Lotor? He doesn’t realize we’re here yet.” Lance glanced around. They hadn’t exactly seen Lotor yet, just the one general. But they tended to be where he was, so the chances of him being deeper in the tunnels were high.

 “I say we play it by ear. Grab some crystals, but if we have a chance to strike, we take it.” Pidge seemed to like that plan and nodded.

 With that plan, they scurried into the closet tunnel, booking it down the rocky path.

 They made sure to mine as far away from Lotor’s troops as possible, hoping to be quick about this.

 The drill did fast work in cutting down the rock walls, revealing a few crystals, but they weren’t very large. The area they were in seemed to be mostly swept clean. The more larger crystals would be where Lotor was.

 “We’ll have to make due.” Lance began to pile the small crystals in a bucket for Pidge to take back up to the lion. They managed to get three full boxes out before Lotor’s troops began to make some rounds towards their end.

 “How many do they need??” Lance demanded, scrambling to get their supplies before the Galra arrived and shuffling down the closet escape. Taking a few random turns they did some quick mining here and there, their pulses racing from the worry of being caught.

"Another box is filled." Pidge slid it towards him. Lifting it into his arms, he nodded and rushed to bring it back up the tunnels. He took a different route than the one he made to get down there. 

With Lotor around he had no idea where the Galra might be, so he moved cautiously. 

Rounding a corner, he noticed a few large crystals peeking out from the walls. He was even able to pluck one out of the wall's surface from how ready it was to be harvested. 

"Sweet." he smiles, He turned on his com-link. "Pidge, I found this spot with larger crystals. Finish up where you are and come over here." to his right, a section of the wall seemed to morph from rock to pure crystal. 

The brilliant hue of them sparkled making him catch his breath from their beauty. 

His steps slowed, following the trail. 

Suddenly, his eyes caught with another. Through the crystal wall, he froze in place when someone on the other side peered through to look at him. 

Piercing eyes locked in on him, widening. 

The Galran Prince stood on the other side, staring into his very soul. Lance stepped back, snapping Lotor out of his dumbstruck daze. 

"Hey!" he yelled when Lance turned to flee back in the direction he came, the cover blown. 

"Pidge!" he rounded the corner to return to her. "We gotta go!" 

Pidge was about to answer when she was suddenly punched in the stomach by an invisible force. The hit sent her flying, crashing into a nearby wall.

 “Pidge!” Lance cried, getting up to race over to her. The force seemed to turn towards him, slamming into his chest. His knees buckling as all the air he possessed was sucked from his lungs. He hit the ground, his ribs aching.

 “Looks like we meet again, little blue.” a teasing voice said. Lance coughed, looking up to see the air reveal a flash of technicolor. 

Ezor.

Behind them more footsteps followed. 

 “Now this is a surprise.” Lotor’s smooth voice rang out as he walked up to Lance’s form, his soldiers marching after him.

 Lance glared.

 “What are you doing here, Lotor?” He wheezed.

 “Why is that any of your business?” Lotor purred, squatting down to his height. “You are the one who interrupted me.” his hand reached out, gripping Lance's chin and tilting it up. Able to see the blue paladin's face, Lotor tilted his head. "I wasn't expecting to see you here..." there is a soft undertone in his voice, sounding almost happy that they had run into each other. 

 Lance scowled, seeing Pidge start to stir.

 “Mind telling me what you are doing here, Blue Paladin." the name slide off of Lotor's voice like velvet.

 “I have nothing to say to you.” Lance spat. Pidge was in a crouch now, Bayard at the ready.

 “Watch your mouth.” Ezor snapped, pointing her blaster at him. “You have no right to-”

 “Take this!” Pidge shouted, releasing her Bayard. The hook latched onto Ezor’s gun, wrapping around it and yanking it back. “Lance now!”

 “On it!” Lance jumps back, tearing from Lotor's grip. Blaster in hand he fires, hitting Ezor in the shoulder and making a break for Pidge. 

A hand snagged his wrist, yanking him back. Lotor sneered down at him. Lance yelled, kicking his foot out to hit him. It seemed to do little to the Prince, who was reaching for his other wrist to take away his gun as he backed them up. 

When his back touched the tunnel wall, Lance inhaled sharply. In a panic, he shot the roof of the cavern, a few rocks crumbling and falling around them. 

Startling Lotor enough to free his hand, Lance made a sharp jab to his lower jaw. Lotor grunts and stumbles back a few steps. 

 “Lance!?” Pidge called, fighting off a surprisingly still standing Ezor.

 “I’m good!” Lance tried to kick him. Realizing it was a mistake the second Lotor grabbed his ankle he yelled again, his balance ruined when Lotor lifted his foot up high. 

It would have hurt if he hadn't been so flexible. 

"What a fighting spirit you have," Lotor says slowly, eyeing the stretch of his leg, looking impressed by his flexibility. 

Lance didn't grace him with a response. The roof and cavern rumbled around them as Lotor made another grab for his weapon. Lance wrestled him for it, putting in as much effort as possible, scratching and grunting. When his balance failed him, Lance fell back, the two wrestling on the floor. 

“Let go of me!”

 Pinning Lance’s arms at the side of his head, the Prince huffed, not expecting to put so much effort into detaining the blue paladin.

 “Surrender, paladin-” Lotor cut off when he met Lance’s gaze. Those brilliant blue irises shinned with such a raw defiance- a willingness to fight till his dying breath. 

It took Lotor’s breath away, making it stall in his chest. Lance took that chance to buck upward, slamming his forehead into Lotor’s nose. There was a crunch as Lotor reeled back with a shout. Lance put a few feet of distance between them, backing up and leveling a glare.

“You… surprised me,” Lotor mumbled, lifting a hand to hold his nose as it dripped… blueberry colored blood? That’s a first.

 Lance’s lips curl upward, dazzling the prince with his smirk.

 “I tend to do that,” he took aim and Lotor snapped his blade up to deflect Lance’s shot, barely managing to guard himself before ducking back.

 This paladin was astounding!

 The cavern shook violently now, Lance glancing up as a few boulders started to fall. 

"Shit..." he cursed, his feet stumbling to keep his balance. "Pidge! We gotta go!"

"Kind of busy!" she rammed into Ezor, knocking her back before ducking as the sentinels began to shoot. 

"No you fools! You'll make this whole place cave in!" Lotor snapped at them, but the damage was already done. The place was falling apart. 

The next thing Lance knew, he was running, following Pidge up the cave path they had come in. 

Separated for a moment when a rock crashed between them, Lance stepped into a connecting path. 

"Keep going! I'll meet you up there!" Lance told Pidge when she looked back at him. Keeping his pace, he found himself close to the surface. 

Just as he was about to be home free, he tripped. He fell flat on his face, cracking his helmet. Sitting up to groan, he rubbed his head. "Ow..."

 He froze up when the rocks groaned above him. They fell apart a second later. This… this couldn’t be it. Going out because of some dumb rocks?

Half expecting this to be the end of the line a form suddenly barrelled into him. Lance was tossed from his inner turmoil as Lotor shoved roughly on his chest, throwing Lance back just as the rubble fell down between them. Sliding across the floor, he looks at Lotor in shock- who was standing looking just as surprised.

 He had saved him….

 Stepping back, he looked back at his general, noting how she hadn't seemed to have noticed the action.

 “Lance we gotta go!” Pidge called from the beckoning surface. Lance nodded, glancing back at Lotor for a moment before running to Pidge before the whole place caved in.

 Grabbing what crystals they could from the boxes the Galra had left above the caves they made a break for their lions. Sentinels were right on their tail, forcing them to duck and weave wildly to avoid getting hit.

 Safely in their lions, they shot off the planet before any Galra could attempt to follow them. Getting a good distance away Lance leaned back into his chair with a relieved sigh. “Geez…”

“That was a close one.” Pidge said breathlessly.

 “No kidding. You good? You hurt?” he sat up to look at her on the screen. Looking a little shaken, she gave him a small smile.

 “I’m fine. What about you?”

 “Fine.” at least, he was because of what Lotor did. It was the strangest thing… Perhaps the Galran prince hadn’t even intended it and just reacted without thinking? Either way, he had saved him.

 A little later they met up with Shiro and Keith at a small resistance station, the very location Shiro and Keith were supposed to escort their cargo ships to. Getting out of their lions, Lance waved to Keith, who happily waved back in his seat next to a few rebellion soldiers.

 “So, hopefully, things were easier for you then it was for us,” Pidge says to Shiro.

 He raised a curious eye brow, “Yes actually. What happened to you two?”

 Lance shrugged casually, “Oh, nothing much. We just got attacked by a Galran prince.”

 “You ran into Lotor?” Keith rose to his feet. He ran towards them, fussy as always. “Did he hurt you??” He gripped Lance’s shoulders. “What about Pidge?”

 Lance shook his head, “We’re fine, Keith. Right, Pidge?”

 She looks startled then nods, “Yeah. I'm fine. Just a little shocked.”

 “What was he doing out there?” Shiro demanded, surprised that he would be in such a place. “Galra don’t go over there. They have their own full supply of those crystals from other planets.”

 Lance didn’t know what to tell him and shrugs, “I wish I could tell you. He was there though, and was gathering crystals.”

 “They seemed pretty insistent on not letting anyone know they were there,” Pidge added in, pushing up her glasses.

 Shiro found the interesting and rubbed his chin. “Perhaps Lotor has a second goal he isn’t exactly sharing with the Galra empire?”

"With that guy, I have no doubt." Pidge folds her arms. 

 “For now, we have to meet up with Allura and the others. They haven’t finished getting that treaty with the Yalview people yet. I don’t know how long it’ll take, but it would be best to meet up with them.” Shiro says.

 They all nod, heading back to their lions.

Halfway there, a hand grazed Lance's wrist. He turns to smile at Keith, reaching out with his pinky. 

"You sure you are okay...?" Keith whispers softly. 

"I'm good, sweetheart." Lance nods. Yet that memory of Lotor pushing him out of the way echoed through his mind. Maybe he was just over thinking it... But why did he do it?

He supposed he might never know and decided to just be thankful he was still around to see Keith's sweet smile. 

Chapter Text

The entire way to meet up with Allura, Coran, and Hunk, Pidge had noticed Keith had been quiet.

 When she looked over to check on the red Paladin, she noticed he was staring at his watch. She wondered when Keith had ever gotten a watch? Not recalling him wearing it before, Pidge just chalked it up as something else that was different about him.

 Not to say it was terrible he was different, it was just something she needed to adjust to. He seemed… gentle, since the last they had met.

 His eyes didn’t hold as much rage as she recalled. While he usually seemed to fold his arms and quietly mop in the corner, he appeared to be more engaging with everyone.

 Not minding and actually welcoming the more expressive red paladin, Pidge busied herself by keeping her eyes on Keith, noting how many times he lifted the watch a bit to look at the underside of it- which was something he did often. There must have been something written at the bottom of the clock, but she didn’t know what.  

 With the way he would smile like he had his own little secret, she figured it had something to do with Lance. It always had something to do with him.

 She decided not to say anything and leave it be.

 It was kind of sweet.

 When they arrived at Yalview, it didn’t take long to meet up with the others. Allura seemed to be losing her mind. The Yalview’s were expecting a lot out of a treaty between the two of them.

 Hunk seemed similar with the Princess and was on his last leg. He was trying his best, but the Yalview appeared to be a very stuck up kind of people, and even his home made desserts didn’t melt their hearts.

 “I don’t know how much longer this will take,” Allura admitted to them, exhausted and rubbing her eyes. “Perhaps even a few days?”

 “A few days?” Shiro shook his head, “We are supposed to meet up with the rest of the resistance in two days time, and I would have preferred to be there early.”

“I know, as would I.” Allura nods, voice apologetic. “I will do my best to ensure we keep with our schedule.”

 “Yeah Shiro, we’re doing our best, but these Yalview guys are not making it easy.” Hunk lifted a hand. Shiro nodded, understanding.

 “Maybe they will be more willing with all of us here.” he offers. “We can even offer to show them Voltron.”

 “That could help.” Allura agreed. “For the time being they have asked us to-” Allura yawned, “Beg your pardon.” She turned away to cover her mouth.

 “Maybe you should get some sleep?” Coran offered softly.

 “I am fine.” Allura gave him a small smile. “This is what my job was, after all. I will secure a treaty with the Yalview, and then we shall continue to the resistance.”

 “Is their alliance that important?” Pidge raised an eyebrow.

 Allura hesitated, “No, I suppose not. However, we cannot turn down any chance to strengthen our forces.” With that said she turned to pull out a few sheets of paper to show Shiro, explaining how much had already been said and what he could add in to win the Yalview’s favor.

 Pidge let them do as they needed, never one for the politics of their job. Keith and Lance didn’t seem to be too into the conversation either considering they hadn’t- oop wait, they’re gone.

 Not to any surprise to her, Pidge discovered that while Allura was explaining to Shiro the problem with the Yalview, Lance and Keith had run off. They had been so quiet about it that no one had taken any notice.

 Pidge found herself ditching out, all the same, not wanting to stick around for Allura’s long lecture on Yalview history.

 She went looking for Keith and Lance instead.

 Despite how much they tried to abide by everyone’s request, Pidge found them, hidden deep within the castle, below one of the staircases. They hadn’t noticed her when she walked by, but she could see them.

 Pulled close and nuzzling into each other, they were staring up at the starry expanse above, absorbing every blissful second they could before going their separate ways again.

 It was… surreal.

 Pidge couldn’t help but stare, mesmerized by the pure tenderness that swam in their eyes. They were talking, murmuring quietly to each other about nothing and everything.

 Keith would look at Lance like he’s the best thing to ever happen to him. Like he is so full of love he didn’t know what to do with it. So he would reach up to Lance’s face and brush his thumbs against his scar so it had somewhere to go.

 “What?” Lance inquired at his attention. 

 “It’s slowly fading.”

 “The scar?”

 Keith nods, “Yeah.”

 “They tend to do that with time. Probably won’t leave for a long time though so I won’t be scar-faced forever,”

 “You have a handsome face, scar and all,” Keith murmured, scooting forward to place his lips on them.

 It makes the breath catch in Pidge’s throat at the way Keith can so openly adore something so searing to Lance’s once immaculate face. And Lance just smiles, welcoming Keith’s affection towards it, like the scar made him even more beautiful than before.

“What are you thinking about?” Keith inquired his thumbs sweeping the delicate skin under his eyes. 

“You,” Lance tells him intimately.

 “What about me?”

 “That I miss you,”

 Keith inhales, gulps, and replies with a weak voice, “I miss you so much,”

 Pidge stumbled back, and fell into the hall in shock. She had felt… moved, by what she had just witnessed. Romance movies, books- none of them had ever left her feeling anything, but something about those two merely sitting there, talking to each other- it made her feel more that she had ever felt before.

 She was torn between the notion of what the team had decided and wanting nothing more than these two to be together forever and bless the galaxy with the spark of passion that burned in their eyes.

What in the world were they doing to these two?

With a massive inhale, she tiptoed away to let them enjoy this single moment. She didn't know where else to go so leaned against the wall and thought about what she could do to make it up to them, genuinely wanting them to forgive her for what she had done. 

"Hey, Pidge," Lance called down the hall, a good pace ahead of Keith as if that would hide the fact that they weren't together just now. "You okay? You look troubled."

She pushed up her glasses, "Just thinking. You know I'm not a people's person, so getting these Yalview guys to like us sounds like a hassle."

"I'm with you there." Keith stepped forward, glancing out the window at their castle. 

"Guess we'll have to figure it out together." Pidge offered a small smile. He looked her over, his dark eyes taking in the softness of her gaze. He smiles back, nodding. 

"Yeah." he seems a little surprised, but welcomed her attempts, "I got your back, Pidge."

"And I got yours," she swore, catching the two off guard for her sentimental statement. Before they can even ask what brought that on she is turning. "Come on; we should probably get back."

To no one’s surprise, Allura seemed to realize they had been alone together before they returned and was already scolding them when they came back into the flight deck. 

Pidge attempted to say something to lessen the blow, “They were just helping me with a project.” she insisted. Lance and Keith look at her in shock.

“I seriously doubt that.” Allura scoffs at Pidge. “You left after them! Meaning they had a few minutes where they were alone!”

"Oh no." Pidge fakes a gasp, "They were alone? How scandalous for two teammates to simply leave the room together after long missions and probably wanted to rest. Bad Keith. Bad Lance." she playfully batted their shoulders. "No rest for you two. You must work yourselves to exhaustion. Give me 20 pushups as punishment. Go Go Go!"

Lance and Keith glance at each other, then back at their small techno wiz. Lance is slowly grinning, moving down to his knees. "Well, if you say so-"

"Lance, Lance, you don't have to-" Shiro holds out his hand to stop him. 

"I'm sorry I wanted to go sit down, it'll never happen again." Keith was falling to his knees, flattening his palms to the ground to move into a pushup position. 

"That's right! Rest is for the weak!" Pidge cackled as they started to do pushups. 

"Pidge!" Allura scolded, "Paladins please- you don't need to- no pushups!" she says, not realizing they were all joking. "You can rest. Rest is important!"

"Ah yes, it is indeed." Coran lifts a finger, trying not to snicker. "But Pidge is right! You two both left, and we had no idea what you were doing. So even if you two passed out in the lounge area to get some shut-eye, you know the Princess' rule! Shame on you paladins! Shame!"

"Coran, no!" Allura shakes her hands. "I-I didn't mean it like that!"

Lance couldn't contain it anymore and rolled onto his side, laughing. Allura's face darkened, her cheeks flushing. 

"Are you all mocking me??" she turned wildly when even Hunk laughed. "You are! Aren't you?

“And what is so wrong with that?” Lance snorts.

"This is a serious matter!!"

"You freaking out we left or that we are laughing at you?" Keith inquired. 

"BOTH! You shouldn't have been together!"

 “We were alone together for a few minutes, and it isn't that big of a deal. Are you saying you can’t be alone with one of us? Or Shiro? Or Hunk?” Lance rolls his eyes.  

“It is different with you two!”

 “Yeah cause we actually care about each other,” Keith grumbles. It shocks everyone, even Lance. When Allura turns to him, Keith’s expression remains calm.

“What exactly is that supposed to mean?” she hissed.

“It’s exactly what it sounded like. Lance and I care for each other, and none of you care for us.” he pauses, "Except for Coran."

"Pidge is cool too," Lance adds in quickly. 

Keith nods, "Yeah, Pidge is cool." he points to her, "You're cool."

She smiles, pointing back. "You're cool too."

“Keith." Shiro cuts in, "That isn’t true.” he looks hurt Keith would even assume that.

“Well, you aren’t exactly showing me otherwise, Shiro.” Keith barked at him.

“I can’t believe you two would act like this,” Allura scolds them. “Running off, ignoring your duties as paladins. I cannot understand why you two would go against your duties so that you-”

“Why?” Keith speaks up, forcing the room to give him their attention, “Is it that odd to believe we would find your rule stupid?”

“Oooohhh~” Lance snickered, covering his mouth.

Her face flushed in a fury, narrowing her eyes dangerously.

“You have no right to speak to me that way!” she snapped. “I am your Princess!”

“The Princess of what!? You are no princess with how you act! More like a stuck up spoiled brat!” Keith fired back. Allura’s face twisted in rage. 

“How dare you!”

“What are you gonna do!? Banish us? Take away the lions? Good luck forming Voltron without us! Face it Allura, you have no power over anything! You aren’t even technically a Princess anymore. You can't change the fact that no Altea means no royalty!” the room suddenly silenced at that last statement, Allura immediately looking hurt. Keith, on the other hand, was trembling in anger.

As bitter as it was, Pidge couldn’t help but find a sense of truth in those words. No Altea meant no Kingdom… no royalty. Allura was no longer a Princess. Just one of the last Alteans alive. It was a somber thought.

“Uh… Keith. Come on, that was a little uncalled for.” Lance said softly, reaching for him, wanting to coax him to apologize. Keith brushed him away and stomped off towards the training deck, grumbling words under his breath.

The silence was crushing before Coran cleared his throat awkwardly.

“Well.” That had gone from joyous to a lousy time real fast. 

Allura turned and stepped around him, moving to the other side of the room. Watching her, he sighs. “The Yalview are waiting for us….  T-This will be a mission of tact,” Coran said with a strained smile. “Diplomatic and what not, you know.” he said. Allura covered her hurt look professionally, taking a deep breath.

“We’ll need to look our best,” Allura says, deciding to let Keith join them later and carry on, “I wish we could avoid the dresses and fancy attire and get right now to business, but we’ll have to play their little game. Your clothes should be in the changing rooms. Dismissed.” She said, turning without a word and going to the main panel. Shiro walked up to her as the others vanished into the common room.

“I'm gonna go get Keith,” Lance said as he waved, leaving Pidge and Hunk to look at the clothes. 

“Good luck.” Hunk called. Lance nodded. He found Keith in the training room, but he wasn't training. He was curled up in a ball leaning against the wall.

Lance approached slowly, his voice cautious, “Sweetheart?”

Keith’s shoulders tensed, “I didn't mean to say that.” He insists, “ I w-was just so mad…”

“Shh… It's ok.” Lance says, understanding. He sat down next to Keith, who instantly leaned against his shoulders. He ran his fingers through Keith's hair. “I got you…” Keith nuzzled close to him as if he was trying to hide in his jacket. For a moment, Lance thought Keith was crying, because it sounded like he was.

When he looked down, he found Keith’s eyes were dry. He didn’t often cry, Lance realized. Yet he could get close.

He could collapse from heartache and sorrow, but tears were very rare.

As Keith’s breaths started to even out, Lance tilted his chin up to look at him. “Hey, sweetheart. Are you ok now?” He asked.

“No,” Keith said, voice raw and bitter.

“Why not?” Lance brushed away a strand of hair with his thumb.

“Everything!” He moaned pathetically, dropping his forehead to Lance’s shoulder. “Everything’s not ok, and it sucks...” Lance rocked him back and forth, unsure of what to say.

“You know,” He said after a while. “We have to go to this super fancy meeting and dress really nice. I haven't looked at them yet, but I can't wait to see you in it.” He smiled. Keith looked up at him, pursing his lips.

“You know I hate dressing up.”

“I love it.”

“I know.” Keith rolled his eyes, a smile following.

“So let's get going so I can see you all fancy- Oh! Wait a sec!” Lance stopped Keith from getting up and fished a tissue out of his pocket. “You got a little snot… there.” his finger moved around Keith's face.

“That's my forehead, not my nose.”

“Oh is that what that is?” Lance smirked as Keith giggled, swiping the tissue from him.

“You're so weird.” He said as he blew his nose.

“You love me.”

“I do, yes.” Keith smiled up at him, cheeks a little flushed. Lance cupped his face and drew him close, kissing him softly. Keith responded immediately, wrapping his arms around his neck, tangling a hand in his hair.

Tongues wrestled, and hands wandered, a gasp leaving Keith as Lance’s hand traveled down his back and under his shirt.

“I love you so much, sweetheart.” Lance rasped by Keith’s ear,  voice low and sending goosebumps across the red paladin’s skin.

“ I… love you too…” Keith said breathlessly, his grip on Lance’s hair tightening as soft kisses were pressed to his neck.

“We should get going,” Lance said, starting to pull away.

“W-wait.” Keith hugged Lance close, “One more.”

Lance was drawn in by those eyes, tugged into another kiss. He sighed sweetly, tracing the bumps of Keith's spine. They could have stayed like that forever, but were drawn back to reality soon enough.

“We better get going,” he says again, stressing it this time. 

Keith averted his gaze with a slouch of his shoulders, “I guess.”

“Hey, look at me.” Keith did. “We’ll be fine.” His confidence in that sentence seemed to be enough to give Keith a little.

“Yeah.” He agreed. They stood and walked hand in hand to the standard room, Lance immediately going to the clothes that were laid out on the couch.

No one said a word upon Keith’s return, so he went to get dressed.

“Is this what we are wearing?” Lance lifted one of the outfits they had been brought to wear at dinner. His eyes sparkled. “Oooh~ I can do this~” he grins.

“Glad you can.” Pidge grumbled, lifting her own outfit, “Ugh…. Are we even meeting the people we need to tonight?”

“We’ll be meeting the King and Queen, along with their son the Prince.” Coran nods.

“Meeting a prince, huh? I have both good and bad experiences with that,” Lance admits.

Keith laughs.

--000--

Pidge had decided to get dressed away from the boys and join Allura in her room to get dressed. As she buttoned up the dress, she looked at Allura. The Princess seemed to be lost in thoughts, and Pidge figured it must have been from what Keith had said.

 Pidge knew that if this stupid Paladin code could be put to rest than everything would start to go back to normal.

 Strategically speaking the best person to go to was Allura. She was the most prominent instigator of this, and as Keith and Lance’s friends, Pidge felt like it was her duty to try and get the Princess to cut them some slack.

They were doing what she asked, despite not wanting to, so she could give them a break and not yell at them for every little thing they did. It wasn’t helping any of them regrow their bond anyway. 

She took a deep breath and steeled herself before speaking, “Hey Allura, can we talk?”

Looking over her shoulder, smiling like nothing was wrong, despite witnessing her shriek at Lance and Keith an hour before, she motioned for Pidge to continue.

“What is on your mind?” Allura inquired, always enjoying chatting with Pidge, especially since she was the only other girl upon this ship.

“I was just- a lot of stuff has been going on lately.”

Allura’s eyes downcast and she nods, “Yes,” she agrees. “But, I am here to talk about whatever you wish to.”

Pidge perks up, happy to hear that, “It’s about Lance and Keith,”

 The princess’s eyes narrowed, turning and glaring at the floor, “What about them?” she asked.

 Pidge swallowed thickly.

 “I was just thinking- they’ve really been trying to put their relationship on hold,” Pidge starts, “I just noticed that you- no, I noticed that we seem to be putting a lot of pressure on them. We expect them to instantly bounce back into the way things used to be, and instantly reconnect with all of us- and I think we need to give them time,”

 A mix of emotions flitted past her eyes, but Allura eventually purses her lips, nodding, “Yes,” she agrees, “I suppose we have been a little pushy lately,”

 “Exactly my thought. So I was thinking, maybe we could all- I dunno, tone it down a little? They have been trying hard,”

“I know they have,” Allura says softly, “However… There is still an issue with them.”

 “Their relationship,” Pidge guesses

 “Yes, that,” Allura grumbles.

 “Why is that a part of the paladin code anyway?” Pidge inquired.

 Allura doesn’t answer her, and seems to avoid it instead, “Because it is,”

 “Well I mean- does it still have to be? We aren’t your average paladins so, does every rule really have to apply to us? Is this just because they are… guys?” Pidge questions her.

 Allura scoffs, “Of course not. It is not gender that is an issue, and it will never be. As Paladins of Voltron your soul focus should be stopping Zarkon.”

 Pidge lowered her gaze, nodding numbly, “I keep hearing that…” Seeing the stubborn look on the Princess’ face, Pidge realized she wasn’t going to get her to change her mind any time soon. She hoped at least she convinced Allura enough to at least let Keith and Lance have a few hours of peace and took her leave, excusing herself to go back to the others.  

 When she arrived, Allura following after her, everyone seemed almost ready to join the Yalview royalty for dinner.

 “You all look wonderful!” Coran clapped.

 “I feel kind of stupid.” Hunk mumbled.

 “It is just for tonight team.” Shiro tugged at the collar of his shirt, finding it tight. “We can put up with this for a few hours.”

 “We look ridiculous.” Keith stared down at himself, not exactly one for something so flashy or tight. The others shared similar disapproval for their get-ups, except for Lance. Of course Lance would be fine with these.

 He strolled in with a swing to his hips and a smirk pulling at his mouth, “Fellow Paladins,” he greeted them, giving a slight bow. His gaze falls over Keith, eyeing him up and down like he was staring at priceless art, “Keith~” he says sensually, enough to have Keith quivering in his boots and the blood rushing to his face.

 “Lance,” Allura warns him.

 “I simply said his name.” Lance smirks a little, “We all look great!”

 “If you say so.” Pidge rolls her eyes.

 “Come along everyone. We shouldn’t keep the Yalview waiting. Don’t want some other reason for them to dislike us and use it against us not to sign the treaty.” Lifting her dress a little she started a quick pace down the halls. The others follow, feeling stiff and itchy in their clothes.

 “This night is going to be horrible.” Hunk concludes.

 “Let’s try to stay optimistic.” Shiro gave a weak smile, almost tripping over his own pants.

 Keith struggled behind them, finding it difficult to walk in his own shows. Unlike Lance, who looked like he belonged in the outfit. He was flipping his hair and lifting his nose high. He looked great, and he knew it.

 Keith knew it.

 He shouldn’t have chosen to walk behind Lance. This was a fatal error on his part.

 Lance had to be doing it on purpose- there was no other way his hips would be swinging with such purpose with each step he took. He never normally walked like that, but it was suddenly as though Lance pictured himself on some sort of cat walk and was strutting down it, showing his outfit off well with the curve of his own beautiful frame.

 

What’s more, his belt covered pants hugged his ass perfectly. As he stepped forward, they loosened just enough, then formed snuggle back to place as his other foot swung forward. Hug, loosen, hug, loosen, hug- Forcing himself to tear his gaze for the enticing sight, Keith hoped to merely look at the back of Lance’s head.

That plan didn’t follow as he hoped when he realized Lance was glancing at him over his shoulder, smiling sly. As Keith assumed before, all of this was on purpose. Lance knew how it would affect him and was just waiting for Keith to fall for the bait. It was unfair…

No doubt Lance agreed to this outfit specifically for their butt-hugging abilities. He probably practiced that hug-promoting movement before even stepping back out to greet them, assuring his victory before Keith even realize there was a threat.

Yup, Keith was falling for him all over again.

With a dreamy sigh, he followed Lance, lured in by the smell of soap and vanilla.

 He hardly even noticed entering the Yalview kingdom and being approached by the King and Queen. Lance had that strong of an effect on him.

 “Welcome, Paladins of Voltron.” The King extended out his hand. “We welcome you to our home and hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

 The Queen bowed her head, “We are happy to have you all join us for dinner.”

 “The honor is ours.” Allura smiles back. “We still have so much to discuss.”

 “Yes of course, but who can discuss anything over an empty stomach.” the King patted his round belly, motioning for them to follow them through the royal halls. Pillars line the pathway, each one encrusted in glittering gold and silver. The King alone wore dazzling jewels across his body and crown, his nose held high.

Keith wasn’t much for chatting with people like these royals but was willing to give them a chance at least. Lance never judged anyone by the first appearance, so he wanted to follow suit.

 At least he tried to. It was tough to keep an open mind when the Yalview Prince strolled in. An elegant cape followed behind him, his smile charming yet his eyes off-putting. Keith decided he instantly did not like him.

“Paladins!” he says a little too loud, surprising them all. Like he thought he should be the constant focus of everyone’s attention, he sauntered around the room. He spoke to them all one by one, starting with Allura. “Princess, nice to see you again.” he took her hand and kissed it. She gave a weak smile.

“Prince Rol.” she says with fake enthusiasm. She obviously had already grown a heavy dislike towards him, and Keith wasn’t shocked as to why. The way he spoke just held this odd tone. He knew he had power over them right now and this treaty revolved around him agreeing to it. He had what they wanted and he was going to sap them of everything they had before he would be willing to give it.

As Prince Rol made his way to Keith, he paused, eyes narrowing a bit. Disdain dusted his features. “What a bizarre smell.” he stuck his nose up to it.

Keith didn’t move. He wasn’t sure what the Prince was referring to.

“You are Galra,” the prince notes. Could he figure that out through smell?

Keith frowns, straightens his spine and nods, “Half Galra. Is that a problem?” he practically challenges.

“No. I simply never imagined a Galra piloting one of Voltron’s lions.”

“He’s one of our best pilots.” all attention turns to Lance when he speaks up. “You’ll never see another pilot as fast or quick thinking as he is, your highness.” he smiles, warming Keith’s heart with his praise. Keith struggles to contain the bubbly feeling he felt.

Then, the Prince was moving. He was stepping towards Lance with a small intrigued look in his eyes. He took Lance’s hand and lifted it. He suddenly kissed it as he had with Allura, something he didn’t do with anyone else.

Everyone gawked at the sight.

A bubble of laughter, awkward and unsure, came from Lance’s mouth as he took his hand away. “Uh- Hi there.”

Keith couldn’t describe it. The feeling the coiled in his stomach. It was dark, making every fiber in his being burn with a loathing. How dare the Prince do that. He was only grateful Lance had been wearing gloves so that the Prince’s putrid lips didn’t touch his perfect skin.

“Shall we head to Dinner?” Shiro seemed to be sensing the growing tension and like a knife, cut through it to save the Prince’s very life. Which Keith was very close to ending. 

Painfully. With little mercy.

The Royals turn to their leader and nod their head. Prince Rol took a little longer than he should have, smiled at Lance, then followed his parents. The dinner was awkward to say the least. The food was bizarre, and despite Allura’s pointed look, it was a struggle to scarf it down.

They left the political talk to Allura. She seemed to talk well to the parents, yet the Prince hardly batted an eye. Since he was next in line to the throne, the King and Queen were leaving the treaty up to him, letting him decide on the matter for his future rule.

This made Allura’s job ten times more difficult as the Prince was too caught up in talking about himself to even listen to what was happening with Zarkon out in the Galaxy.

The paladins were little help. She had some hope that perhaps the Prince might just listen to Lance though, as he seemed to have taken an interest in him.

“Lance, perhaps you could tell the Prince about your encounters with the Galra.” She offered. He glanced up at her, shrugging.

“Sure…?”

Prince turned to Lance, smiling in a way meant to be charming, “Or even tell me a little bit more about yourself, Blue Paladin. Perhaps even your name~?” he cooes sweetly.

Lance hardly glances up from his strange alien salad, “Lance,” he states robotically.

“Lance.” Rol cooes.

Keith’s fork grinds against his plate then snaps into two. The reaction was startling enough to quiet the room.

“My bad. Broke my fork.” Keith grumbles stiffly, his eyes dark.

If looks could kill, the Prince would have keeled over already from the way Keith’s dark eyes bore into his skull, threatening to rip off his head with his bare teeth.

So dinner went great.

Allura would have liked to say.

By the end of it she was exhausted, no closer to that treaty. She was starting to think it just wasn’t worth it at this point, but thought she would at least give it one more hour. When the King and Queen offered a tour she nodded.

“That would be great.”

“I’d love to check out your tech.” Pidge lifted a hand.

“I’d like to have a word with your chefs.” Hunk smacked his lips together, the bitter taste of dinner still making him shiver. It would simply not due to have food as bad as that being served to the general population.

“Perhaps one of your paladins could accompany me?” the Princes offers. “I can show them around the castle’s garden.”

“Of course,” Allura agrees, thinking nothing of it at first. It’s only when his gaze flicks over to Lance that she pauses, “Oh…” She was uncertain, to be honest. This Prince obviously had other intentions than just friendship to their Blue paladin but- wait. Wait a minute, that’s it!

She wanted Keith and Lance to separate, so what better way to do that then to get Lance interested in someone else??

The opportunity to get Lance to spread his wings to new people since one had already taken a fancy in him was too hard for Allura to miss. Lance just needed a push to realize his feelings for Keith were false. Spending time with a charming Prince might just do that.

“Lance can accompany you,” she smiles.

“What?” his head shot up, startled. “Me?”

Keith is quick to say, his gaze shooting back and forth between the two rapidly, “I can accompany him. I’ll do it.”

Allura shakes her head, “Lance would be the best choice.”

 Not looking too happy with this idea, Lance slowly turns his head to the prince. The look in the Rol’s eyes made him uncomfortable and he takes a few steps to Allura. “Um…” he whispers quietly, making sure only she could hear him, “I’m not too comfortable with this, Allura,” he admits, “I don’t really-”

“Lance,” she cuts him off, ‘You are a Paladin of Voltron. This task is to strengthen our allies to defeat Zarkon. Surely this is simple enough for even you to do,”

“Hey,” Keith narrows his eyes at her, not liking her tone with that statement.

Feeling his blood run cold, Lance lowers his gaze to his feet, “I… okay,” he agrees softly.

Keith rushed forward to stop this, ready to blow up in Allura’s face.

Lance calms him with a hand to his shoulder, “Hey, I’m the people’s person, remember? I can do this.” the fake confidence was something Keith felt like Lance showed way too often. It hurt to see him put on a smile and walk towards the Prince.  

“We shouldn’t dawdle, Blue paladin,” the Prince smiles. Lance glances back at the team, his gaze locking with Keith’s for a second longer. Looking almost disgusted with the idea, he swallows the feeling down and walks after him.

“Princess, I don’t think this is a good idea,” Pidge says, already getting a good idea to what she was up to.

“Yeah, how could you just let them walk off like that?” Keith demanded. He stepped forward but Shiro’s hand pressed against his chest and he was forced back.

“It is a tour, Keith. Why are you making such a big deal of this.” she looks away, avoiding his eye contact. It was apparent this was more to her- a secret plan, and Keith sure as quiznack wanted to call her out on it.

“It’ll be fine.” she waves it off. “This is for the sake of the treaty.”

“Is it?” Hunk inquired. His question lingered, but it held truth. They all knew Allura too well and knew when she was hiding something, or at least trying to. There was more to this, and they all had a feeling to what it was.

Allura didn’t answer and just walked away to join the King and Queen. Everyone eventually followed, except for Keith who lingered by the doorway. He stared down the hall Lance had disappeared down, feeling worry pull at his gut.

He wanted to think it would be okay, but if he had learned anything, terrible things always happened to them when they were separated. Always.

So for the next hour, he agonized over the blue paladin, thinking of every horrible scenario that could occur. Death, sudden attack, the Prince getting too handsy- he wanted to punch something.

If that Prince so much as even touches Lance, this whole Kingdom was going to go down in flames!

“Hey.” Pidge’s soft voice catches him by surprise. She stands next to him, looking up with wide eyes. “I’m sure Lance is okay.”

Surprised she came up to comfort him, he nods weakly. “He’s tough.”

“He is. Besides, they know who we are, so they wouldn’t dare hurt him.” Pidge smiles. Keith nods weakly.

 “I… I’m not worried about them hurting him. It’s more of-” how could he describe how he felt. How he always felt this way whenever someone so much as even looked at Lance. It felt so primal, if he had to put a name to it. 

Every inch of him would scream when someone got to close. No words could describe the plummeting feeling. He felt like this isn’t normal for most people. It was far beyond over protective.

Lance had told him it was called possessive, but even that felt like it fell short to how he felt. Well, whatever it was, it was both a blessing and the worse kind of torture imaginable. He just wanted Lance to be safe and to be somewhere he could constantly see.

He knew that was a lot to ask, especially as paladins, but he could still hope.

So he was left to fret. Folding his arms, pacing back and forth, and listening to this dull tour of the Yalview Kingdom from the King and Queen. When the hour struck, he was booking it.

 “Okay, it’s been an hour.” Keith stepped in front of Allura, eyes narrowed. “If we don’t leave soon we’ll miss our meet up with the rest of the rebellion.” It was a valid point, even if it was just an excuse to get Lance back with them and away from the creepo Prince.

 “He is right, Allura.” Shiro says softly. As much as it would be nice to have another ally, they couldn’t risk the position of their other ones for people who wouldn’t give them a straight answer.

She sighs, nodding her head. They would have to try again a different time. “Let’s gather the others and go.”

Keith quietly pounded his fist, ready to get the hell out of there. He rushed ahead of the others in search of Lance. He turned that place up and down, demanding each guard to tell him where the Prince had gone. Some didn’t know, some gave him a straight answer, and some avoided the question.

Either way, he eventually tracked them back to the throne room, which connects to the main hall. The Guards stationed there suddenly moved their spears in front of his face, blocking the path.

“You cannot enter.” They proclaim. Keith lifts his head slowly, challenging these men with his gaze.

“Why not?” he demands gruffly.

“The Prince has given strict orders to let no one disturb him.” One says.

"Not disturb him...." Keith's hands were itching, rolling into tight fists, "Disturb him from what?"

They didn't answer him. Like they even needed to; Keith already heard enough to know he wasn't going to let it stand. 

Overprotective Equivlanet mode; ACTIVATE!

With one solid kick, he snapped the two spears in half. The guards in question gawk at him, the motion knocking them back enough for him to step between them, bracing his hands to the two steel doors. 

He threw them open before the stationed guards could even blink.

“Sir you can’t-!!” they were trying to stop him from going in, and it took only a moment to realize why.

For a moment, he had met Lance’s eyes. He was turned towards the door, walking towards it to leave. He seemed flustered and angry, his teeth grinding together. His features softened when he saw Keith, quickly replaced with shock when he was tugged back a moment later.

It was as though the universe was putting everything in slow motion, torturing Keith with each second. 

For whatever reason, Lance had tried to leave, and when he had, the Prince had grabbed him. He turned Lance’s head, tugged them together with an arm around Lance’s waist, and then...

Then, their lips crashed together in a brutal kiss.

Keith felt the blood drain from his face as his feet froze up. Pidge gasped behind him, eyes widening in shock.

“Hey, what's the hold up-” Hunk trailed off. "W-What?" his breath caught at the sight. 

Tunnel vision hit Keith hard, eyes focusing on those grotesque lips pressed to his Equivalent's. 

HIS equivalent's. 

HIS Lance. 

The wavering control Keith held cracked like glass. 

 

Chapter Text

The room shared a small gasp and then fell quiet.

Before everyone had walked in, Lance had been furious. He had given it his all to be polite to this spoiled brat of a Prince, but it could only go so far. He looked down at him, treating Lance like some fragile gem to be won over a capable pilot and soldier.

 He insulted Lance’s scar, saying that his people could remove such an ‘ugly blemish’ with their technology and restore his face to perfection.

Lance could take all of that. What he couldn’t stand for was when Keith was brought into the conversation. The Prince belittled him, mocked his very origin, and even dared to call him a worthless Galra!

He had never snapped at someone so fast. Pissed off and officially done, he turned to try and leave. Right when his feet started moving the door had opened. He felt relief for .5 seconds at the sight of Keith before the Prince roughly tugged him back.

And then….

Several things slowly passed through Lance’s minds, moving like a movie scene in slow motion.

First, the realization of lips, cold and bitter, forced to his own.

Second, the way his heart tightened and shriveled, leaving him feeling nothing but a bitter cold. 

The third was how he screamed when the prince flashed in his own eyes like some allusion, morphing into the boy from Galaxy Garrison. That night where everything went wrong and nothing was ever going to be the same. The night that still kept him up crying, haunting him both awake and in his dreams. 

It was this thought that finally snapped him out of his gaze to fight back, tugging at the Prince’s arms. He pressed closer, pushing the boundaries, trapping Lance with his arms. He screamed again and again, muffled by the Prince’s disgusting mouth.

He threw his hand wildly. His palm grazed the Prince's ear and ripped off a heavy looped earing. The Prince hissed in response, turning his head in pain. He whipped back around to bark at Lance, but his gaze caught something else. 

He barely had time to looked shocked before another fist was cracking his nose in half. Blood followed shortly.

Lance wasn't quite sure what had even happened and took one step back, his spine pressing against a warm chest. 

Arms, protective and steady, were moving to still Lance’s quivering frame. He didn't need to look to recognize him, the stress slipping from his shoulders. 

“Lance,” Keith tugged him closer, angry but gentle in the way he stroked Lance’s hair and pressed his face into the crook of his neck. “You’re okay. I got you.”

Lance trembled in his arms for a moment, covering his mouth with his hand as his stomach churned. Bile burned the back of his throat. His eyes were wide and distant, gasping into Keith’s shoulder for air. When he finally gulped down enough oxygen, he nodded shakily after a short time. 

"Hey, you." he laughs wetly. 

"Hello, love." he pressed his lips to Lance's forehead in a comforting gesture. Either for him or Lance, perhaps both of them. Lance focused on the touch, then the word. Had that been it? Keith had taken a long time to think it over, so was that his choice in a cute pet name? 

It was absolutely wonderful. 

"Let me take care of this." Keith requested quietly. With a brush of his fingers across Lance’s face, waiting till he nodded, Keith spoke in a voice so quiet and steady that it made the words strangely more intimidating,

“If you ever kiss him again, I will break your jaw," he promised, his voice still gentle and deadly. “You so much as look at him like the way you were before, and I’ll rip your eyes out.”

“Keith!” Shiro runs forward. “Sto-”

"What if he wants me to?" the prince drawled, arrogant and untroubled. Even despite the ugly spill of blood from his nose, he couldn't seem to just give this up. 

Lance made a gagging sound, voice raw with disgust. “Never.”

The Prince grinned, sick and twisted like this was a game. Like it was only a matter of time before Lance would think the opposite.

“Prince Rol, this is highly inappropriate behavior,” Allura says. Lance felt almost odd for her to suddenly be on his side, but he knew Allura wasn’t cruel. Despite her attitude the last few weeks, he knew she meant well- he just couldn’t possibly see things from her side. “Lance is a Paladin of Voltron, and his duty is to stopping Zarkon. Nor has he the time for someone to force himself on to him.”

The Prince sneered, “Are you insinuating I went against his wishes? The way he was, he was practically begging for it.”

Keith’s hand tightened around Lance, bristling. “Shut your mouth…”

“I was simply claiming what had yet to be taken.” The Prince continued.

“Like hell, I would even want to be by a creep like you!” Lance was done with the niceties.

With the attitude of a man who always got what he wanted through time, he casually moves back to his throne, “You say that now, but I can provide you with anything you require. Riches, pleasure, I can provide it all- unlike your primitive Galra soldier,” he motioned to Keith with disdain.

His eyes were steady, following to his voice, “I don’t have a penny to my name, that's right, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that isn’t what Lance wants.” Keith smiles, “He doesn’t care about money or fame, he just wants someone who loves him. Someone who can be there for him, and stand as an equal. Not attempt to bribe him with possessions or force themselves onto him.”

As he spoke, Lance lifted his gaze, his eyes wide and adoring.

“He is mine." Keith’s low voice was suddenly dark, not as composed as before. 

While the room turned to Keith in shock, the Prince raised a curious eyebrow. “Is he now?”

“Yes, he is. So you better make sure I never see you even a foot away from him, or I’ll cut off your head and put on a stick for everyone to see.”

The Prince was scoffing, “You think a lie like that will keep me from pursuing him?”

“It’s not a lie,” Lance declares, his voice star struck. His attention was on Keith, mesmerized by him, “I’m his. I’m Keith’s, and he is mine.”

“Lance,” Allura turns to him, eyebrow twitching with an ounce of annoyance that he was bringing this up now.

He ignored her, he ignored everyone. All that mattered was this wonderful man before him. As Keith cupped his face, Lance felt like he would melt.

 “Can I?” Keith inquired softly. His eyes were wide, warm, and framed by thick raven hair. To Lance, staring into those eyes always made him feel extraordinary―sort of like his bones were turning spongy.

He was a little lightheaded, but that could have been because he’d forgotten to keep breathing. Again.

With a swelling in his heart, he chuckles, “Like you have to ask now,”

The kiss that followed blended in with their little smiles and Lance swore that his knees were going to give out on him. He loved him. He loved him so much.

When they pulled away, everyone in the room held a different emotion. From disappointment, to angry, to a little joy, it didn’t matter to them. What mattered was how they felt.

“Know your place, dumb Prince,” Keith smirked at the Prince, happy to hold Lance and show the entire galaxy that he was his. Only his.

“You bring shame to other prince’s! Harri would have kicked your ass!” Lance yells. Keith snorts, a bubble of laughter following at his sweet Equivalent and how easilly he could change the mood of the room. 

With nothing else to be said, and clearly not getting the treaty, Allura pinched her nose. “We’re done here. Thank you for your... hospitality,” she gritted her teeth then turned to leave, happy to be done with such a horrible place. 

Of course, leaving wasn't much better. The entire walk back to the castle was awkward, to say the least.

“Hey,” Keith’s hand bumped into Lance’s as they walked. A whisper followed, “Are you okay?”

Lance looks at him, trying to quell the obvious panic in his eyes, “I’m okay.”

“Did he-” the red paladin chooses his words carefully, “You didn’t think of Garrison, did you?”

Lance purposively avoid his gaze, “A little, but it’s okay. Thanks for having my back.”

“Always."

Keith lifts his hand, uncaring to who stared at them, how disapproving Allura’s gaze would be later, and touched his thumb to Lance’s lips. Like something precious, he moved his thumb gently along the surface; pressing away the Prince’s presence.

Something inside of Lance shifted and came to rest as if it had found its proper place. Similar to a puzzle, he thought. That satisfying joining of two pieces, pieces that were made for each other, aligning as one.

With a sweet inhale, Lance puckered his lips to kiss those calloused fingers. "Thank you."

Sharing a breath, they stepped away, but not by far. 

 Trailing behind the two, Hunk could hardly breathe.

His eyes were watery, and it was hard to walk. He hadn’t thought that…

How long had it been since he had found Lance crying in the closet of their dorm room back at Garrison, traumatized and broken?

Hunk had been the one to listen to Lance cry in the bathroom in the nights that followed, insisting he was fine when he was questioned about it. Just bad nightmares, he would tell him.

But Hunk knew. He was Lance’s best friend, of course, he knew.

Something horrible had happened at that party they had attended. That night Lance had disappeared, stumbling back into their room the next morning, eyes bloodshot and heavy. He didn’t speak a word the whole day, and then suddenly broke into tears, hiding himself in the closet.  

When the Prince had forced a kiss, he could see the event practically playing out in Lance’s mind.

He had been two seconds away from pulling out his Bayard and whisking his friend to safety, but then Keith stepped up. 

The thing that surprised Hunk the most was Keith’s eyes. Sure, he punched a Prince, but he felt it was only a matter of time before their hot-headed red paladin would pull something like that. But the way he held Lance... The tender care and love of the gesture, and the way he asked permission before kissing him after- it made Hunk curious.

 Did he know about what happened at Garrison? Or the better question was, did Lance tell him? Did he trust Keith enough to confide in him when he struggled to even slightly mention or hint at it to Hunk?

He knew the answer before even asking the question.

It was then that he realized that these affections weren’t something made up from months of being alone. They were real.

And honestly, while the thought was puzzling to Hunk before, only because he never saw it coming, he was happy. He was so glad that Lance found someone. Even just being able to look at Keith with such burning love in his eyes...

It made him spiteful to himself for even agreeing to something as stupid as keeping them apart. He had to talk to Allura later- convince her to change her mind.

He had to.

“Coran.” Shiro says as they entered the bridge of the ship, “Plot a course to meet up with the rebels. We’re done here.”

“You read my mind.” he started typing the second he got close to the control panel. The room fell into this dull silence, the tapping of Coran’s screen echoing.

The tension seemed almost impossible to cut through, yet they all knew someone had to eventually.

Allura seemed to take that responsibility and spoke, “It is a shame, but it is for the better we move on. We do not need an alliance with people such as the Yalview. What they did was vulgar…” no apologies, no explanation- just a simple, that is that.

“Is that all you have to say?” Keith’s voice was barely above a hiss. When Allura turned, she was met with a dark glare, rage threatening to boil out from how much he was shaking. It showed in the way he slammed his hand down against his chair, nearly cracking the metal.

The room flinched.

“What exactly do you deem as Vulgar, Allura?” he demanded. “Was it that they tried to force Lance into something he didn’t want to do? Was it how they wasted our time? Which part?”

Allura looked pale, swallowing thickly, “Obviously the part with Lance. It was horrible how they tried to force him into some unwanted relationship-”

“Isn’t that what you wanted?” Pidge inquired, his voice steely. Her voice cut through each one of them like a sharp dagger. “It was pretty obvious that the Prince was interested in Lance. It’s why you offered Lance in the first place.”

Allura lifted her nose a little, a small scowl tugging at her lips, “Well- so what if I did? It would be good for Lance to seek the affections of others considering the paladin rule-”

“You forced him.” Keith concluded, “He said no, right to your face, and you still made him. The Yalview and you aren’t that different, Allura.”

Taken aback, Allura leaned against her controls, “How dare you put me on the same level as those people!”

“Why shouldn’t we? You haven’t been acting any different from them!” Keith yells back.

“Team.” Shiro lifted a hand, “Let’s calm down. Bickering isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

“Will you stop defending her!!?” Keith whipped around to snap at him. “What she did was wrong! And Lance paid the price because of it! That Prince put his hands on him! Dared to even kiss him!"

“Keith has a point,” Hunk says softly, voicing his opinion for the first time in what felt like years to them all. Lately, he merely stood in the background during these team confrontations.

“Now you are going to his side?” Allura barked at him.

He pursed his lips, “I’m just saying that it wasn’t cool to send Lance off with the guy, okay? He gave off some major creepo vibes. We all knew he did. Forcing Lance to spend time with him just because you wanted to separate him from Keith wasn’t going to solve anything. You owe Lance an apology.”

“I will do no such thing.” the princess folded her arms. “I have nothing to apologize for.”

Keith looked ballistic, “Are you serious?!”

“If anything, you two should be the ones apologizing. I sent Lance with the Yalview Prince, yes, but he is a Paladin of Voltron. Something so small shouldn’t be an issue for him.”

Not an issue. The words repeated over and over in Keith’s mind. Perhaps under other circumstances, it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal. Lance could brush it off- but that was the thing, to Lance, it was a big deal. It was a huge deal.

And even if Allura didn’t know the things Lance had been through in the past- how dare she just step on his feelings like that!

“You take that back right now!!” he demanded.

She refused, “What the Yalview Prince did wasn’t right, but that still does not allow the both of you to break the paladin code as you did. And in front of all those people.”

Keith could fathom it. She was talking about the kiss. Out of everything that had happened, she thought the worst of it had been his kiss with Lance?!

“YOU ARE DEAD!”

Keith was already moving forward; fist held high. Barely able to duck out of the way, Allura yelled when Keith’s fist grazed passed her cheek. She fell to the floor, gritting her teeth when his knuckles slammed into her control pad, cracking the glass.

“Keith!’ The room began to yell, rushing forward to pull him back. If that wasn’t enough, Allura seemed willing to meet him head on, lifting her own fists to smackdown.

“Allura! Keith!” Coran pleaded with them.

“Stop!!” Just as the battle was about to carry out, the blue paladin’s voice shattered the noise. He stood, his hands shaking and eyes wide. “Just stop it!” Why couldn’t they just get along like they used to? When had things gotten so complicated?

“But she-” Keith argues.

Lance shook his head, not wanting to hear it. “I don’t care! Just knock it off!” They were in the middle of a war for Pete's sake. This day had been bad enough.

He was just so tired.

“Please stop…” Leaning back in his chair he turned, fleeing from the room when he felt tears build in his eyes. He would never let the team see him so lost and hurt.

To think, a few months ago all he wanted to do was leave Iespion and return to the team, but now he regretted them ever reuniting. It wasn’t perfect, but at least there he had people who supported him. People who loved him, and who loved Keith, and just wanted them to be happy.

 “Lance!” Keith was calling for him long after he disappeared into the elevator.


 

 --000---

Two hours ago, when Lance had run out of the room, it had left the team feeling cold and empty. No one knew what to say and just went their separate ways. Lance had gone to the pool to cool off, so the team left him alone.

Walking down the halls with her hands in her pockets, mind lost in thought, Pidge sighs. This day had been horrible, and if that wasn’t enough, Allura didn’t make it that much better when they left Yalview.

She yelled at Keith and Lance. Can you believe that?? She was the one who insisted that Lance spend time with that jerk, yet she blamed Keith for being the one to give that Prince the punch he deserved!!

Yeah sure, they kissed, whatever. None of that would have happened in the first place if it wasn’t for Allura!!!

Frustrated, she ran a hand through her hair. Everything just seemed so pointless and overly complicated lately. She just wished things could go back to normal, or better yet, everyone just leaves Lance and Keith the hell alone.

Speaking of those two, she lifted her head when she turned the corner.

Keith was there, lingering in front of Lance’s door, frozen in place. He looked exhausted, worn out from the last two days, unable to catch a break. He had this look of longing- like he wanted to go inside and see Lance, but the threat of someone finding them, of Allura catching him, seemed to make him hesitate.

Sighing, he turned, freezing when he saw her. Wide eyes and pale, he stepped back.

“I was just-”

She moved past him without a word, “You were just about to go take a nap, right?” she inquired. “I’ll tell the others that,”

Following her form with his eyes, he blinked rapidly,” H-Huh?”

“A 30-minute nap is probably best. No one would disturb you from it…” over her shoulder, she smiles, “What does it matter to me if that nap so happens to be in Lance’s room?”

It took only a few seconds for him to understand what she meant.

His smile was broad and smoldering, taking up his entire face, “Pidge,” he hugged her, “Thank you!”

He had never hugged like this before.

“Yeah…” she gripped his shirt tightly, “I- sorry,” she whispered.

“For what?” stepping back, he is surprised to see her eyes waver.

“I wasn’t a good friend. I didn’t know how to think of this so I just- I pushed it aside. I listened to Shiro and tried to think intellectually about this when… when love is something that could never be explained by science. I’m sorry, Keith.”

With an expression she had never seen from him before, he lifted a hand to her head, ruffling her hair, “Thanks. It’s okay. I know it was kind of hard for me just to ask you to accept something so quickly too. So I’m sorry.” With a little smile, he steps back, “You sure about this though? You might get in trouble with Allura,”

“That is only if you get caught, so keep it to 30 minutes,” she smirks, jabbing his chest. “Now get going.”

“Will do.”


 

 ----000----

When Lance opened his door, he was surprised to find Keith seated on his bed, waiting for him. He almost tripped, gasping at the sight.

“Keith??” he lowered his voice and quickly closed his door, locking it. “What are you doing here?” he approached him quickly, shocked that he managed to sneak past everyone and right into his room.

Keith pushes off the bed, standing strong and gorgeous in front of Lance. His eyes glide up until they meet his, and suddenly, Lance can't stop smiling. Neither can Keith. So, there they were, smiling at each other.

"Hi." Keith says. He couldn't believe he was actually there. He was afraid it might be a dream so he reached out to test it, gently touching the side of Lance's face. When Lance leans into it, he prays that if it is a dream, he doesn't wake up. 

Lance was shining, "What are you doing here you reckless paladin~?" he turns to kiss Keith's palm, "You're gonna get us in trouble."

I was worried. I wanted to check to make sure you were okay.”

Lance hummed, “I’m okay. I was pretty freaked out at the time, but I’m okay now.” he smiles when Keith lifts his chin to confirm that he is telling the truth. Without saying anything, Keith brought him closer.

“I’ve got you."

Lance’s throat goes dry, “...I know,” he lifts his arms to wrap them around Keith's neck. They back up, falling back onto the bed to snuggle. 

Murmuring soothing noises, shushing him, Keith settled himself between Lance's thighs and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek.

“I miss you."

Lance swallowed, "I miss you too."

"No Lance, I- It...." he can't seem to find the words suddenly, "I miss talking to you, going places with you. I miss touching you and seeing you smile. I miss just … sitting next to you. I’ve never missed anyone or anything that much." 

Lance stops him by putting a finger to his lips, “Stop talking so much. You’re gonna make me cry.” he attempts to joke, but the quiver in his voice points out that he is serious.

“Sorry,” Keith tells him. “Are you okay? About what happened I mean- with that Prince?”

Lance nods meekly, “Yeah.”

"It’s okay if you aren’t okay, Lance." Keith whispers

“I’m alright,” Lance says quietly, trying to convince himself.

“You’re lying,”

Lance tightens his grip on Keith’s hands, inhaling sharply. “I…” he chokes off, “I told Allura I wasn’t comfortable with it…”

“I know.” Keith swallows tickly.

“He just kept trying to touch me. Getting closer and closer, Keith.” Lance voice got smaller, on the verge of falling apart, “I hated it.”

“Hey, shh, I got you…. Lance, look at me,” he says, sounding shaken. Lance reached his hand up to cover his eyes, sobbing into it. He hates that he is ruining this- their one moment in what felt like so long to be together. It sucks. It sucks, and his heart was hurting in his chest the more the clock strikes down their time together.

“Please don’t cry.” Keith pleaded. He felt desperate, wanting those droplets of water to evaporate with the swirling pain in Lance’s heart, “I’m here now. Whatever you need, I’ll do it,” he assures him.

It took a long time for Lance to answer and when he finally did his voice crackled in his throat, “Stay with me tonight. I-I know we might get in trouble tomorrow but I-”

“I’ll stay,” Keith smiles. Cradling Lance’s head in his hands, he peppers his face with loving kisses, brushing his cheeks with his thumbs. They curl up under the blankets, pressed as close as possible and just talking. 

They talked for almost an hour. Nothing really serious, just small talk. 

"I'm really been working on my long range aiming," Lance tells him, brading a handful of Keith's hair. 

"I should probably work on any part of my aiming," Keith says with a chuckle. "I'm terrible with a gun."

"I'm terrible with a sword."

Keith rolls his eyes, "I would say we should teach each other, but Allura would just say no." 

"If we convince Shiro with it though he could vouch for us. I mean, it is for our sake as paladins." Lance smiles at his work with Keith's hair. 

"Yeah, but I would get distracted. Wouldn't take it seriously." Keith admits with a sigh. He smirks when Lance gives a questioning look, "You look so good when you get serious." the blush that crossed the blue paladin's cheek was worth the hit that followed. 

"You are asking for it, Mullet." Lance snorted. 

"I am." Keith agreed. Rolling over a tad, their lips locked together. 

After a few seconds, Lance gasped for air, “Can we…?” he trails off, his cheeks growing hot under Keith’s touch. They hadn’t been together like this for so long, but they both knew how much they wanted the other.

“I would love to,” Keith nips at Lance’s lips, “But it’ll hurt if we don’t prepare right? I don’t have anything,”

Lance clears his throat a little, reaching his arm over over the side of his bed. Opening the small panel at the bottom, he rummages around in it for a second. Moving blankets and other things, he reveals a secret jar.

He takes it out and places it in Keith’s hands. He recognizes it instantly as the very embarrassing gift Tellru had given Lance to celebrate their equivalency. It oddly enough made Keith miss their Coeihn friends.

“Well, there is our lube,” he concludes. Lance chuckles, his eyes dried from his tears but puffy.

“I’m waiting, Kogane.”

Keith’s eyes took on a mischievous glint. They heated. Darkened. And something else. He wasn’t looking so relaxed now. In fact, he was looking the opposite of relaxed. He looked…feral.

And Lance was his prey.

Without so much of a word, Lance found his back pressed to the bed behind him. Keith threw his leg over his waist to loom over him. It was suddenly hard to keep their breathing calm, their noses almost touching. 

It overwhelming, the others smell alone

"You are sly, love." Keith muttered, moving in. 

For a single night, they managed to forget it all. Allura, the paladin code, the war.

A blissful few hours and they were all that mattered in the entire universe.

When Keith fell asleep, Lance propped himself up on an elbow to stare at him. He brushed back his hair, humming a gentle tune.

“You are my sunshine, my only sunshine~ You make me happy when skies are gray. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you… please don’t take, my sunshine away,” Keith’s soft breathing brushed his face. Lance couldn’t take his eyes off him, his voice barely a whisper.

“The other night dear, while I lay sleeping…I dreamt I held you in my arms. When I woke dear… I was mistaken. So I held my head…” Lance paused for a long time, eventually croaking out, “And cried,” Rolling onto his side, he hugged Keith tight, tears stinging his eyes.

He regretted this choice more than anything. He thought he was doing the right thing when he agreed to Shiro’s stupid deal. But it hurt.

He had been the one to convince Keith of this, after all, so he had no one to blame but himself.  

There was a fear,

Perhaps it was just because Shiro and Allura have been so insistent on this, but Lance had been having nightmares. He dreamed that Keith would lose interest in him after these last few weeks of being apart, and it terrified him.

Having him here with him comforted him, but that fear might not ever go away.

If nothing else, this wasn’t to just prove to the team that their feelings were real, it was to prove to themselves. Lance loved Keith, and he prayed and hoped Keith still felt the same too. 

A few more weeks, he told himself. Then it is over.

Chapter Text

“Good morning.” Keith says sweetly. Lance rolls over to smile at him.

“Good morning to you too~” with a soft kiss, Lance asks, “How long have you been up?”

“Not too long,” he assures him. “Just couldn’t bring myself to wake you. You were sleeping so peacefully.”

“Aww, sweet. Stalkerish, but sweet.” Lance reaches up to pinch his nose. Keith pulls away with a sour face.

“It’s not stalkerish.”

“Well maybe not in your perspective.” he smiled at him - that sarcastic troublemaker smile that had annoyed Keith for months when they first met but eventually had become endearing. Lance's hair was curling around his ears and down the nape of his neck, which had grown a little. His hair growed slowly unlike Keith’s, which had always grown at such a fast pace.

Usually he cut it by now, keeping it just from touching his shoulders.

That was until Lance had told him he liked it longer.

Keith smirks, adjusting himself to pull Lance against his chest. Lance happily nuzzles into it, listening to the beat of Keith’s heart.

“What time is it?”

“Dunno. Early I guess.” Keith admits, “Almost breakfast time.”

“Guess we have to go.” Lance’s gaze lowers, saddened that their time was coming to an end.

“Not for long.” Keith says. Reaching over Lance, he feels around the floor for a moment for his pants. Lifting them, he pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket. Unfolding it, he motions to the lines he had scratched down. Each line marked a day that had passed.

“It’s almost been a month. Four more days.” Keith tells him. “That is all I’m willing to give Allura and Shiro before I come and take you by force.”

Lance was shocked, dumbstruck. “You… You were counting…?” of course he was, this was Keith after all. Touched beyond words he bit his lower lip. “Sweetheart.”

The red paladin’s gaze turns soft, and for a moment, Lance is completely swept away with the promise in those eyes. There’s nothing dirty, heated or sinister in them. They’re warm and enticing and so damn sincere that he’s finding it hard to look away, let alone breathe.

“I’m not letting anyone take you from me ever again.”

“Is that a promise?” Lance whispered

“A solemn vow.”

Lance won’t say he cried, because he didn’t, but he sure was close. Squeezing the living daylight out of Keith in a hug, he giggled against his chest. Keith chuckled back.

The laughter suddenly died off, replaced with an accusation.  

“What the- So you were the one who took it!”

Not sure what he meant, Lance lifted his head and followed his gaze. The plush red lion doll he had specially made for Keith back on Iespion was standing at the end of his bed.

“Oh…” he grins, sheepish. “I did, yeahhhh.”

Keith’s pout couldn’t be cuter, the utter betrayal coursing through his eyes, “I thought I lost it. I was so upset!”

Lance quickly sat up to hug it against his chest, “I’m sorry. So sorry!”

“Why did you even give it to me if you were gonna take it?” Keith demanded, grabbing it’s leg to tug it away. Lance whined, fighting against him for its possession.

“Well because!” truth be told, the reason he had taken it was very simple. It smelled like Keith. His hair, his skin, it was him and Lance had clung to this thing these past few nights as a comfort.

“I need it~”

“But it’s mine!” Keith tugged as hard as he could. Back and forth they pulled, like two children fighting over a toy in a pitiful battle of tug-o-war.

Lance whined again and to his surprise Keith gave in, releasing his hold on the leg. He crossed his arms and legs in the middle of the bed, giving him the stink eye.

“But I love it….” he mumbled

Officially feeling bad Lance scooted over to find a compromise, “I just sleep better with this.” he tells Keith. He blushed, muttering, “It smells like you. So I like it.”

Of course Keith instantly perked up, smiling. “Yeah? Well then you can use it.” he changes his mind, “Tomorrow. You can use it tomorrow. I want it tonight.” he holds out his hands demandingly.

Huffing Lance handed him the plush, “Fine, but I get something of yours as a trade.” he tossed his legs over the bed to stand up.

“What kind of trade is that?” Keith questions, “This was mine to begin with. I shouldn’t have to give you something to take it back.”

“Too late, it’s happening.” of all the things Lance decided to take of Keith’s, it was his socks. Call him weird, but they stank of Keith, so it was the best option. Kind of gross though… “How many days have you worn these?”

Keith shrugs, “Two days maybe?”

“That’s fine then,” he slips them over his feet with a smile. “Taking these.”

The look Keith gave was the very definition of shame. “Of all the things. Why?” he shakes his head.

“Just accept it.”

As Lance started getting ready for the day, Keith lingered on the bed, watching him.

“You gonna get up or just sit there looking pretty?” Lance teased, brushing his hair back. Keith smiles, leaning back on his palm.

“You should probably head out first. Allura might get suspicious if we show up at the same time.” he suggested.

Lance’s lower lip puckered, “Yeah, guess you are right.” he sighs. Shrugging on one of the jackets Tellru made he saluted him. “See ya in a bit.” he scooted out the door without another word.

Keith wished he had given him a goodbye kissed before he left.

“See ya…”

When the door closed, Keith folded his hands together. He took a deep breath and waited. One minute, then two, finally he felt it.

Without bringing too much attention to the feeling, making sure to keep his face calm, he lifted up a hand to grip his shirt, right over it heart.

It hurt.

The pain was slowly beginning to grow with each beat of his heart.

There was nothing to do about it, so he got up and got dressed. He met up with the team a little later after returning his red lion plush to his room.

He admits that he lingered in his room a bit, hugging the plush to his chest and burying his nose into it. He was so glad it was back, but more than that, it now smelled like Lance…

Taking a few minutes to appreciate it he joined the others. They were approaching the meet up site for the coalition. It was a small planet that was more of like a fuel site for passing ships. They had won it over from the Galra a few months back and had used it from time to time to meet together.

“Just got word from the Blade of Marmora.” Pidge announces from her chair, “They are at the checkpoint and have gathered the alliances.” she pauses, “To think we already have so many people on our side.”

“Seemed like just yesterday when we were fighting Zarkon on our own.” Hunk agrees, “It’s nice to have support.”

Lance leaned forward, curious, “So how many people are we talking about here?” he inquired, “I don’t remember having too many allies before Keith and I left.”

Shiro turns with a bright smile, “You’re right Lance, we didn’t.” he presses a button on the console to show a large list of allies, each highlighted a different color to show with planet they were from on the map. “In the months you were gone though we have managed to steadilly grow in numbers.”

Lance felt his jaw hit the floor, looking to Keith in shock. He is just as amazed, standing to examine the list up close. “This many in such a short time…?” he smiles, impressed. “With this many people- defeating Zarkon doesn’t sound so impossible.”

“Indeed.” Allura says, proud of everything they had done. “We’re hoping to continue to expand and have gathered a few more forces to this meeting, hoping to have them join our cause.”

“Right, so let’s be on our best behavior.” Shiro says with a fold of his arms, “For now let’s get down there and greet everyone.”

Moving the ship to land, many of their previous allies had run to meet them.

“So it is true, you have been located!!” Slav of all people was scurrying up to them, taking Lance and Keith’s hands, shaking them wildly. “The chances of you being found in this reality was less than 12%!”

“Oh?” Lance says awkwardly. “Guess that 12% was on our side.”

Quickly side stepping away from him, already sensing the twitching eye brow of their leader, they pushed on. Not everyone was aware of Keith and Lance’s disappearance, but the ones who did welcomed them back with opens arms.

Kolivan had even stepped forward to welcome them back. “It is good to see you unharmed.” he holds his arm out. Keith takes it, nodding.

“Well, we had some help.”

“I heard.” he nods, his gaze moving to the side for a moment. His eyes suddenly… softened. It was a very strange sight for the normally fierce leader of the Marmora. Curious to what he was staring at Lance followed his eyes.

It was a person. To be more specific, it was another Galra. 

“Hey…” he paused, stepping back to eye a certain Blade of Marmora member towards the edge of the clearing. He had his arms folded neatly behind his back, standing tall towards and surveying the area. He seemed to be stationed like a guard, watching over the passing allies, examining each closely to insure everyone was safe.

His mask had been lowered, revealing fuzzy ears tinted in white. The rest of his face with a light purple except for a small almost triangle spot on his forehead that matched the white of his ears.

He had rather soft features for a Galra, his eyes wide but ready for anything that might thrown at him.

“Relo.” Lance realized. Hunk tilted his head.

“You know him?”

“Yeah, I do.” Lance booked it in his direction. He had only met him once, but he couldn’t forget Relo saving his life back on Iespion. During that Galra attack, he had been the one to help Lance escape so he could get the Coeihns off that Galra cruiser. “Relo!”

He turns his head, ears perking up. Realizing it was Lance, they relaxed, “Blue Paladin.” he greeted. “It is good to see you are well and reunited with the others.”

“How do you two know each other?” Pidge inquired.

“He was on Iespion.” Lance explained, “During the Galra attack he helped us out.”

“That was you.” Keith realized. He extended his hand, which Relo shook. “Thank you.”

“Both for Voltron and Iespion’s sake, I was happy to help.”

“Whoa, so there really are Marmora hidden all over the Galra Empire.” Hunk nodded his head.

“It’s one of the reasons our forces are so pulled thin.” Kolivan says, stepping next to them. “Due to his assistance with you Relo had to pull back from the Galra forces so as not to be detected and detained.”

“Oh.” Lance frowned, “We’re sorry we blew your cover.”

“Think nothing of it.” he says quickly, “Iespion was saved and you missing paladins were returned. It was worth it.”

Lance smiles, taking a moment to shake Relo’s hand gratefully.

After that, the tough work had began. There was a lot to do and plan for to figure out their next move against Zarkon.

Before Lance had realized several hours had passed. Exactly what was done and what still needed to be? He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he hadn’t seen Keith in a while.

He found him when he looked up, noticing the balcony Keith was leaning against. Seated to rest his arms on the railing his feet were hanging over the edge. His hand was gripping his chest, his jaw tight, like he was gritting his teeth.

Then he see Lance all tension leaving his face immediately. He smiles down at him, waving. That was how far their interaction had gone before they were both dragged off.

To say Keith was busy was an understatement.

They were there for three days, and during that time he hadn’t seen Lance once. At least it wasn’t from Allura’s doing.

There was just so much to do and so many people to see and talk to that none of them could make any time for each other. Keith hadn’t even caught a glimpse of Hunk since they arrived. His cooking skills were very popular so he was a big instigator in gathering and pleasing the alliance.

During that time Keith tried to get in some conversations with the Blade of Marmora. None of them were the talkative bunch, but he at least managed to get a few topics out of Relo. He was a very calming presence, willing to answer many of Keith’s questions so long as it didn’t involve the Blade of marmora personally.

Secret groups need to stay hidden, he supposed.

“Can’t you at least tell me about this?” he lifted his blade, showing it to Relo. He barely batted an eye at it.

“It is a traditional blade for Mamora members; you are aware of this,” Relo says robotically.

“Yeah, I got that. Can’t you tell me more? Who it belonged to before maybe?” Keith pushed.

Relo shakes his head, “It would be impossible for me to do that. Blade identities are secret, so even if I did know who that blade belonged to before you, I could not tell you. I am sorry.”

Keith sighs, tossing his blade back into the holster. “Not your fault…”

“You have a decent amount of answers from the blade alone, do you not?” Relo inquired.

“What do you mean?”

“You know you are Galra from it, meaning you know that whichever relative gave that to you was once in it, or is even in it now. To get answers within the Blade, you must be part of the Blade. You must earn the information you seek.”

“I keep getting told that, yet I haven’t exactly seen any information handed my way. As Allies, we aren’t very trusting.” Keith folds his arms.

“Should we be that trusting?” Relo inquired, “As you said, we are allies, but that does not mean you are one of us.”

Keith slowly lifted his head, giving Relo a long look. “Isn’t it enough to have this?” he motions to his blade.

“You being able to activate it is enough to keep it. If you want information, perhaps you should join our ranks? You’ve proven you are capable of that, and I am positive Kolivan would allow it.”

Keith rubbed his chin. If Relo truly thought that then perhaps he should give it a try. “I am a paladin, would it even work?”

“You would be put into training, but since we are in war your paladin duties would come first. You can train with us whenever you are able, even join us on a mission when your presence is not require within your team.”

It actually sounded fantastic. To be able to learn under their teaching and at the same time maybe even learn about himself.

Find out what he could about his heritage….

“Where is Kolivan now? I want to speak to him about this.” Keith says.

Relo’s lips pull into a smile and he motions ahead, “The meeting room. He will welcome you instantly.” he assured Keith. “He spots strength fast. As well as the weakness of others.” he looked ahead, his face suddenly softening. “He leads well.”

“Have you known him for a while?” Keith wondered, not sure if that was something Relo could even tell him. When relo didn’t immediately respond he thought so, but then he nods.

“A long time. We both joined at the same time.”

So they had history. How far the went, Keith was positive he might never get the answer.

“Well thanks, Relo.” Keith nodded his head in thanks and ran off. As Relo had assumed, Kolivan welcomed him with a solemn nod of his head and even offered him the Marmora gear. It was strange to see something so small compared to their usual members.

It was almost as if Kolivan had already known Keith would eventually come to join them and had it previously prepared.

That or they gave him an outfit they usually had younger Galran children wear, but he preferred to think Kolivan just had is specially made for him.

“You will be training for the most part with Relo.” Kolivan informed him. “He will teach you our ways.”

Keith nodded in understanding, letting Kolivan get back to his work. He held the outfit to his his chest, this bubble of excitement in his chest.

He wanted to tell Lance.

That proved to be difficult.

Lance was surrounded, the crowd large enough to block off every angle of approach. Keith was left to watch from the back, peeking over the heads of the alliance in hopes to even just catch a glimpse of his ocean blue eyes.

Keith wasn’t much of a people’s unlike the warm Blue paladin~

He was popular for sure, but more than anything he held an assuring presence in this tough time. Lance was able to give these people hope and a moment of peace with his charming smile and gentle voice. His jokes got people laughing, his banter enjoyable.

He was so beautiful.

Leaning against the wall, Keith lingered, watching from a distance.

A long, long distance.

The longer he stood there the more this pit formed in his chest. It was nasty, like a bile. All those eyes, the small touches to Lance’s shoulders, the smiles and compliments that made him embarrassed,  He wanted to shove his way into the crowd and take Lance far away.

He was sick of having to share him. To hold back because of his team….

Maybe if he hadn’t been separated from him for so long it wouldn’t be as bad.

But the more he stood there, watching, the more he felt…

Lonely.

Keith stops. He suddenly felt so cold.

His heart is gripping tight in his chest as the word comes across his mind. So many different feelings come with that single  word. And not just loneliness as one would think.

For Keith, that word tended to go beyond its definition.

Loneliness was always a deeper meaning to those who truly knew what it meant to be alone.

Turning away, knowing he would just feel more upset the longer he was there, he made his way down the hall. He got halfway down before something strange happened.

Something that had been happening a lot lately.

For a moment, Keith felt overwhelmed with the wave of dizziness. He stumbles, catching himself on the wall. Everything was fuzzy and, he felt pain. It was everywhere.

He felt as though he was on a boat suddenly, lurching back and forth, unable to find his balance. He needed some air, his chest struggling to take in a few little breathes.

Thinking it was maybe from exhaustion he stepped outside, gulping down some fresh air.

It seemed to help and he felt better with time. Not sure what that was, he touched the back of his palm to his cheeks.

It was hard to tell if he had a fever by himself, but his cheeks were definitely red.

He returned to the castle to get something to eat but it only ended up making him feel like he was going to throw up.


 000---000

Lance had barely managed to get away from the Coalition to get a breather. It was nuts out there, everyone wanting him to look over things, show them how certain guns works, as about previous fights.

He usually loved attention, but not for three days straight. He barely remembered everyone’s name with how fast things were moving. When he returned to the castle to try and get some sleep, he wasn’t that surprised to find everyone was gone. Off doing something else.

Well, everyone but Keith. He was in his room, accompanied by the mice.

Lance was curious to what he was doing and approached his door. Opening it just enough to see Keith within he saw the mice were surrounding his feet, looking up at him. He was standing before the mirror, his eyes lost in thought. He fingers were running over the dulled edge of his blade, a comforting sort of action to calm the raging through he held in his head.

Lance had seen that look many times when Keith started to think about his past- about his family.

He wanted to go in and draw his attention away from that, but he couldn’t seem to move his feet.

Keith was wearing the Blade of Marmora combat gear. Had they officially brought him into their ranks?

He proved to them a long time ago he that he was trustworthy and a brilliant fighter.

Lance felt like he should have been proud that the Blade had welcomed him as one of their own. He should have been swooning at how amazing he looked in that outfit. He seemed taller, leaner and more muscular.

Yet he couldn’t.

It was like the Blade was claiming him when he wore those clothes. A quiet announcement that Keith was there’s and that the Blade was where he belonged.

A threat of taking him away.

He hated the idea.

“Excuse me, sir,” Lance calls out to him, finding his voice. “I’m afraid what you are doing is illegal.”

Keith turns abruptly, a soft smile touching his lips, “Which part?” he inquired, going along with Lance’s playful ways.

“Looking that good is a crime in many galaxies, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to give you a ticket~”

Keith bite his lower lip, his grin wide. “Isn’t there any way you could let me off with a warning? I’m just a simple paladin.” he says, over playing the acting purposively.

Lance rubs his chin. “Hmm, well, I suppose I could. You have to do something first.” his eyes glinting mischievously.

Curious, Keith lifts his eyebrow. “And what’s that?”

“Take your hair down.”

Keith was puzzled, “Take my- why??”

“I want you to.” Lance husks, his voice deep even to his own ears. “Take your hair down, sweetheart.”

Keith blinked, his eyes darkening like something had come over him. He reached up to pull the elastic from his hair, the motion purposively slow. Lance watched the shiny, raven strands fall over his shoulders and back. There was a tug of satisfaction when Keith’s cheeks darkened, his eyes deep and waiting for Lance to order something else.

“Anything else?” he croaks.

“Show me those pretty eyes.” Lance inches closer. Keith held his breath, waiting anxiously for Lance to move towards him. Closer, closer, he stopped next to the mirror, leaning and arm against it and bending his back down towards Keith, staring into his eyes.

“There they are.” he brushes his finger to Keith’s cheek. “Bright like the stars.”

Keith swallows, feeling his eyes starting to close, hoping for a kiss. It never came, instead Lance looked worried. The small touch to his face was changed to his entire hand, cupping his cheek.

“You feel hot,” he tells him.

“I’m fine.” Keith says. “Was just at training, worked up a sweat.” why was he lying? He didn’t know…

“You sure?” with both his hands he surrounds Keith’s face. He squishes his cheeks together, “Is my Keef feeling well?” he cooes.

Keith smiles, “I’m fine.” he was, now that Lance was here.

“If you say so.” Lance kisses his nose. “So, Blade of Marmora huh?” he forces a quick smile. “You get this recently or have you had this for a while?”


“Just got it. Thought I would surprise everyone. I’m gonna start some training with them.” Keith explains, stepping back to show the outfit off. “How does it look…?”

“Good does not even begin to describe my thoughts on it,” he says, his intensely blue eyes full of mischief. “Maybe you could do a little dance for me so I can fully appreciate it?”

Keith looks puzzled for a moment, thinks it over, then blushed. “Lance.” he scolded.

“What?? You know you want to~” he teased, reaching out to grip Keith’s hips. “It’s a skin-tight bodysuit. Skin tight.” He felt like he was gonna purr in delight. “Can see every curve~”

The redness of Keith’s cheeks seemed to grow brighter despite his best effort to keep a poker face. He shoves Lance a tad, stepping back.

Turning to grab his clothes to change he took a second to look at Lance over his shoulder. He might have wiggled his hips for the blue paladin, he might not have, the universe will never now. Either way, Lance was whistling for him.

As Keith began to change, Lance is suddenly called away.

A few minutes together should have been enough for him, but he would be lying if he said that.

So he stood alone, staring at himself in the mirror.

Eventually, he would go and join the alliances, the Blade, his team and together they would prepare for Zarkon.

Eventually, he would force conversations with strangers and attempt to grow bonds with them to strength the resistance.

Eventually, he would go and try to get along with Shiro and Allura, so the coalition didn’t sense weakness within their team.

But for now, he would take a moment to compose himself. He would fight back the bile he felt rising in his throat when he realized he wouldn’t be able to hold Lance’s hand when he left.

He would act strong and smile whenever Lance looked his way, so his beloved wouldn’t realize how much his chest was hurting.

Physically hurting.

It was a chore lately to breathe.

Sometimes the pain was so staggering he thought he should go to Coran and see what in the world was wrong with him, but he felt like he already knew.

He knew because the pain disappeared when he was with Lance. It only came back when he would leave his side for a long period of time.

It was the strangest thing, but this is what love was, right?

When you love someone wasn’t it healthy to get dizzy when they were gone? To feel so sad you think you’d be better off… gone? Was in normal?

He wasn’t sure. He had never been in love before now. So maybe it was? And if it wasn’t, then what was wrong with him?

Chapter Text

Keith awoke to the 30th day since he was told to part from Lance.

 A full month. Shiro hadn’t exactly given them exact times or been very specific when they first started this. Keith assumes it was because Shiro thought they would have gotten over each other by now.

But today was the day.

It was getting harder and harder to cope with Allura’s constant presence anyway. She had made it her goal to keep them separated at all times, purposively assigning them to talk and spend their full time with different sections of the coalition.

Of course, that is what they were supposed to be doing, but Pidge, Hunk, and Shiro never spent nearly as much time with the alliances as Lance and him did.  

Some part of Keith wondered if it was just because she was spiteful about Blue choosing Lance over herself.

Even when they were standing in a room, she made sure they held several feet apart. If they even so much as looked at each other for too long, she would snap at them to do something else.

It was starting to piss Keith off, and he was positive Lance wasn’t much better.

And what was worse, was that Shiro never stood up on their behalf. He just went along with what Allura said, avoiding Keith’s gaze when he turned to glare at him.

The team on missions or in public weren’t that bad. They all managed to push aside their strife to save innocents and defeat the Galra

But it sure was awkward in the castle. At least Hunk and Pidge seemed to have mellowed on the whole topic. Pidge even apologized and seemed to be helping them out.

Things only seemed to get worse after that incident with prince Rol.

To say Keith was overprotective of Lance was an understatement, but having to sit there and watch as that slimy, low life Prince attempted to flirt with his Equivalent….

It still made Keith’s blood boil. At least he had gotten a little bit of time with Lance afterward.

Now, it seemed hard even to try to do anything else. It was… depressing.

Keith would usually be training around now, but he was still in bed. He had been there for hours.

He couldn’t move.

It hurt .

He just had to roll out of bed, and then he could see Lance. That is all he had to do, so why wasn’t his body listening to him?

The pain kept surfacing, tormenting him into unbelievable torture. Memories seemed to be the only thing that could comfort him. Memories of being able to hold Lance, wake up beside him, kiss him- yet not being able to do that for weeks was draining him. It felt worse than any broken bone.

He stayed curled in the fetal position his body had found itself in as each memory played out in his head. He can't stop the pain from seeping into his skin.

No Lance. Fighting with Shiro. Wrestling with the team. He hates it so much.

If that isn’t enough, there is this fear. A fear of Lance leaving him, or getting bored of him. It terrifies him so much.

He wondered if Lance knew how special he was;  how precious he was to him. But most of all, he wondered if Lance knew just how lucky everyone who knew him was to have such a caring person in their life.

Yet he wasn’t allowed to appreciate his Equivalent because of some old alien rule.

It was maddening.

Keith!”

He dully lifts his head when he heard Allura call to him over the intercom. He scowls and lowers his head back down to his pillow.

She wants him to join the others for training. They couldn’t slack off just because they were with the coalition.

He can hear the others talking in the background.

He makes no effort to move.   

Willing to lay there for the rest of his life he lifted the second pillow over his face. He needed some time to rest before he was ready to deal with Allura today.

Then, like the call of an angel, Lance’s voice echoed through the castle walls. From the way Allura yelled, it sounded like Lance had either bodily shoved her out of the way to get to the intercom, or had yanked it from her hands.

Keith~! Sweetheart~!I can't properly focus on training if you aren't here ~”

Lance…! ” There was the sound of rustling, like Lance and the Princess were fighting for the intercom

Return the intercom at once!”

“Fight me!”

Shiro was calling this time, trying to pull the two apart. “ Lance, let go of her hair! Allura don’t bite him!! Coran, don’t just stand there! Do something!!”

Keith rose slowly. He listened in utter silence to this situation, not sure if it was okay to laugh at something like this.

Finally, like the intercom had been forgotten, Pidge’s voice spoke out calmly, “ I’d get up here Keith. Your boyfriend is causing a scene.”

His boyfriend.

Oh wait no, it’s not that, is it? ” Pidge mumbled. “ What was the word again? It was like a math term almost. Equilateral?”

Equivalents I think .” Hunk speaks next

“Right right, your Equivalent is getting sassy with the Princess, so you better get up here.

There was no sarcastic tone in Pidge’s voice- just amusement. She meant it and sounded like she accepted saying such a thing.

Feeling motivated for the first time since yesterday morning, from both Lance and Pidge’s voice, Keith scrambled to his feet and got dressed. He met up with everyone on the bridge five minutes later. Lance welcomed him with a broad smile.

“Hi-” he is cut off by Allura.

“Keith, it is about time you decided to join us. As a Paladin of Voltron, it is not acceptable behavior to miss your training sessions!”

And there goes all of Keith’s energy for the day. His shoulders physically slouched the moment she opened her big mouth.

“Well, he trains during every other hour of the day.” Hunk points out softly. “He makes up for it through that and then some.” Allura glanced at him, shocked he took Keith’s side instead of hers. He quickly twiddles his thumbs at her look, “...Just saying.”

Lance was snickering, giving Hunk a quiet high five.

“Do you have anything to say, Keith?” she folds her arms. Keith blinked once, then twice. He couldn’t even find the energy to shake his head. She seemed to see this as a form of sour attitude and got angry.  Keith could usually get through her scolding quickly, but he found himself struggling to stay focused.

He felt sluggish and heavy. He had hardly slept that night, or even the night before. It was like his body was translucent, not truly there. If he could just spend a little time with Lance, maybe he could recharge or something? He felt better when he was with him.

Speaking of….

“It’s the day,” he says softly. Allura cuts off mid-rant.

“What?”

“Today is the day.” he continued, stepping forward slowly. One step, two, he was inching his way across the room, his footsteps growing the farther he stretched his legs out. He went past Allura, past the team. He didn’t stop till he was in front of Lance.

His blue eyes were wide and puzzled.

“Keith?” he extended his hand out, worried about his strange behavior. “Sweetheart, what’s-” He cut off when Keith embraced him. Well, more of bodily threw himself into Lance. There was enough force in it to almost knock them both over, and Lance was stumbling back into one of their chairs.

Keith crawled upward, straddling Lance in a very unusual hold, like a koala clinging to a tree. He buried his face into Lance’s shoulder, and that was that. This is where he was going to be for the rest of the day. The team could get a crowbar in here, and they would not be any closer to removing him.

It was very bizarre behavior for Keith.

“Keith!” Allura screeched.

“That’s inappropriate, Keith,” Shiro says stiffly, his eyebrows furrowed together.

Keith lifted his middle finger without moving much else of his body. “I need a few minutes,” he whispered against Lance’s neck. “Just a few. A recharge. I can’t make it otherwise.”

Lance swallows, “A recharge?” he asked. “What do you mean?”

“Separate at once!” Allura commanded, making her way towards them, prepared to pull the two apart like velcro. She grabbed Keith’s arms, starting to tug. Lance yelled at her, slapping her hand away.

“Don’t touch him!”

“Then remove him!”

Keith snapped over his shoulder when Allura refused to simply accept the fact that this was happening. It was time he put his foot down. “It’s been a month! We did as Shiro asked, but that’s over with now!”

Shiro looked floored, running the days over in his mind. Realizing Keith was somewhat right, he shifted his weight. “Keith, this isn’t the time. We have too many things going on. Let’s talk about this later-”

“We already talked about it! So let me have this! I need this!” he roared, burying his face back into Lance’s chest.

Said blue paladin was utterly confused and sat with Keith curled up in his arms. Everything about this seemed weird. It was normal for Keith to argue with Allura and Shiro, and yes it had been 30 days, but the red paladin looked… exhausted.

Keith’s words held the bite he knew and loved, yet there was no motivation in the rest of his body. It was like someone drained the energy out of him.

Allura was giving it one more go to tear the two apart. Keith turned his body enough to act like he would attempt to fend her off, but had no actual strength to do so. WIth how weak he seemed she might have been able to tug him away but then the screen in front of them blared to life.

An emergency transmission from one of the coalition was coming through.

“Paladins!!” The leader of the Pluig Planet, one of their first allies in the Coalition, suddenly appeared on the screen. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but we just got word of information that might be quite valuable to you!!” as he spoke, his excited smile died off. He took in the sight of the room before him, tilting his head. “Is… something wrong?”

Allura, frozen in her position and reaching for Lance and Keith, quickly stepped back. She folded her arms behind her back and forced a smile, “Just fine.” she assured him. The Pluig leader glanced back at Lance and Keith, his eyes drawn to the interaction. Allura seemed to sense this and panicked.

“W-What information do you have??!” she yelled, quickly lowering her voice, “Anything to aid in the fight against the Galra empire is most useful.”

“Oh, right.” The Pluid leader tore his eyes away from the two cuddling paladins. “Two things, one more of a request then information. We are sending a ship towards the Coalition capital. There is a Blade of Marmora member on board. She is injured but not in critical condition, so the ship is taking a slow course to avoid detection.”

“How was the Marmora member injured?” Pidge asked.

Lance recognized the Pluig leader. When he had visited their planet, they had been very scornful to the Blade. Now, his eyes softened, looking grateful.

“There had been a small raid on our planet just yesterday. We were going to call for aid, but she stepped forward. I had never seen a pilot quite like her. Her ship sustained some damage and crash landed. We managed to pull her out, but she insisted on heading straight to the coalition to continue her work. She should be there soon, within the next few days.”

“We’ll inform the Blade of Marmora and Kolivan.” Shiro tells him, “Did you happen to catch her name?”

“Krolia,” he answered.

Remembering that name, Shiro nods, “What is the second thing you needed to inform us about?”

“It was the reason Krolia was here. There is a large movement of Galra ships on the edge of our system that she was looking into. They don’t seem to be aiming to attack any planet but are moving in large numbers. They are heading towards something, leaving every other planet under their watch behind.”

“That much Galran movement isn’t normal.” Pidge folds her arms.

“Agreed.” Allura lifts her hand to extend the known universal map throughout the room. “On the edge of your system you said?” she highlighted the area, noting all the planets close in range still under Galra control. “That is a lot of resources they are leaving behind. Each of these planets are large mining facilities or food supplies to the Galran empire.”

“That is a big hit against them if we manage to take them,” Shiro says thoughtfully. “This could be a chance to gain more footing.”

“What about what they are heading to?” Lance spoke up. The room looked at him. He had shifted positions, Keith perched on his hip like an infant, eyes closed and nuzzling his neck. Despite the cute look of the two paladins, Lance brought up a good point. “If they are willing to leave those planets defenseless, what exactly are they heading to that is so important?”

“I’m not sure.” The Pluid leader admits, concerned now that he was thinking about it.

“Should we check out both sides? Gather some help from the coalition so one group can gain those planets before they return while the other follows those ships?” Pidge suggested.

Shiro nodded, “That sounds like the best play here, Pidge. We’ll gather our forces. We’ll have the Marmora follow behind those ships and see where they are headed. Voltron and the coalition will secure the planets then meet up the Blade when they figured out where those ships are headed. Thank you for this information, we shall be there soon.” with shared nods of their heads, the transmission was cut off. “Alright team, let’s get ready to head out.”

“I’ll contact the coalition groups who are out of the capital to get them heading to the location.” Allura says, then turns, “And will you two please separate??” she demanded. “We don’t have time for this! What if he had questioned you two?

Lance pursed his lips, “If who had questioned us?”

“The Pluid leader?” Pidge inquired.

“Yes, him! What if he went spreading this around to the Coalition! It would be a disaster! Humiliating!” Allura threw her arms up

“Humiliating?” Lance seethed, “Get off your high horse, Allura!” getting to his feet, he forced Keith to stand on his own. “We got bigger things to worry about then the Coalition figuring out Keith, and I love each other. Which, by the way, I wouldn’t care if they did, because it wouldn’t change anything.”

Allura growled, jabbing a finger towards the door. “Go help ready the coalition.”

Growling, Lance began to step to the door. Stopped by Keith’s hand on his wrist, he looked back to see wide eyes, pleading with him to stay. “I’ll go help.” Keith offered sweetly.

“You need to head down to the Blade and get them ready to go.” Shiro corrects him. Keith seemed to gain a bit of his energy back and challenge Shiro with a glare. He only calmed down when Lance agreed with him.

“He’s right, Keith. Who knows what this could be about, so we need to move fast.” he squeezed his Equivalent’s hand. “I’ll see you when we’re both done.”

Keith deflated, “Oh. Okay… Bye.” slipping his fingers away he moved past them to get his job done. Lance watched with a tight feeling in his chest. Sighing he slowly exited the room, the stares of the Green and Yellow paladin following.


 

 000---000

Hunk didn’t know what to do.

Allura was putting Keith and Lance through hell, barking at them, making the two more miserable than Hunk had ever seen them. It was hard enough trying to set up a full attack in just a matter of an hour.

He could hardly take it. It felt so pointless and ridiculous. And he agreed to this.

It made his chest hurt and his legs feel numb thinking that he had thought it was a good idea to separate them. He wanted to talk to someone about this, but what could he say?

He was wandering through the halls of the coalition capital, moving past Olkari and other alien species, taking a box down to the Blade of Marmora before they departed. He heard Keith would begin training with them soon.

As he sauntered down the stairs, he saw their red paladin talking to them. He wasn’t wearing the standard Paladin armor and instead was dressed in the Marmora battle gear. It made him seem like one of them. Just a smaller one of them. He was very easy to pick out compared to their towering heights.

Kolivan was nodding his head as Keith spoke, motioning for a few Marmora members to finish stocking the ship to head out. Relo, the Marmora member who had aided them of Iespion, quickly ran up, saying a few things before heading towards Hunk.

He paused, “Yellow Paladin.” he greeted. “Is that for us?” he motioned to the box. Hunk nodded, handing it to him.

“Are you ready to go?” Hunk asked. “We know this was last minute.”

“Most things are, so it is okay.” Relo says, “We’ve been trained for things like this.” he looked back at Kolivan and Keith. “While I have you here, I have a small question. Has the red paladin been eating properly?”

Hunk arched his eyebrow, “Eating properly? I think so, why?”

“He seems a little thin lately,” Relo explained. Hunk trailed his eyes back to Keith, not able to see it. Though, he supposed that seeing him every day would stop him from noticing that. Relo didn’t see him that often so would probably notice it more than he would.

“Well, just thought I would ask.” Adjusting the box in his arms Relo ran off, catching Kolivan’s attention. Turning to see where he received the box he motioned for Keith to head out.

Hunk felt nervous when Keith joined him but found his courage to speak up, “Hi, Keith. A-All good?” Now that he thought about it, maybe Keith had lost some weight?

Keith barely acknowledged him with a nod.

“You okay…?” Hunk titled his head, following him back towards the stairs. He was taking one step at a time, slow and uneven.

“Yeah…” Keith wouldn’t say it out loud, but he hadn’t slept well in three days.

“You don’t look well…” Hunk says, sticking his hand out when Keith wobbled. He gently pushed Hunk’s fingers away.

“I’m fine,” he says stiffly. Together they returned to the castle where Coran met with them.

“About time you two got back. We’re heading out soon once Allura can finish talking with the coalition,” he explains. He noticed something seemed off about the two of them,  “You lads okay?”

“Keith isn’t feeling well,” Hunk says quickly.

He scowls, “I’m fine. Just sleeping badly.”

Despite his words, Coran shuffles over to examine him. The moment he sees the heavy bags under his eyes and pale face he frowns. “Lad, you look ready to pass out. Come along,” Coran refuses to let Keith weasel his way out of this and dragged him to the examination rooms below to give him a checkup. They knew something had to be up when Keith had little to no energy to fight back.

Hunk followed, watching nervously as Coran checked his vitals. Keith didn’t seem pleased with any of this but didn’t move so they could get it over with.

“What’s going on here?” Pidge peeked her head in a little later, puzzled to see Keith seated on the examination table.

“Keith isn’t feeling well.” Hunk tells her.

“Stop telling people that. I told you already; I’m fine.” Keith barked.  

Coran clears his throat, “No Keith, you’re not.” Everyone paused, confused. “You’re physically and mentally exhausted,” Coran says gently. “Have you been pushing yourself in training?”

“No. I do the normal amount,” he mutters. He had been doing less lately. He didn’t feel up to training as much as he used to.

“Do you sleep well at night?” Pidge asks. He shrugs in return, glancing at his feet. He hadn’t slept well since they left Iespion.

Since he was separated from Lance…

“I… No, but it’s fine.”

“When did you stop sleeping well?” Coran continued.

Keith sighed, “I-I dunno. A while, I guess? I used to sleep fine before. It’s been hard to lately.” he started talking without even realizing, the words bubbling out of his mouth like a waterfall, “I feel weird. Off, you know? Like something is wrong, and sometimes I feel like I’m in pain. I try to sleep it off, and I used to be able to sleep alone and then- well, it changed when Lance and I got back.”

“Did you two share a bed at Iespion?” Coran asked so bluntly that Pidge and Hunk feel embarrassed at the topic. Keith nods though, and Coran seems to realize what is going on. “It must be Lance then.”

“Lance?” Keith growled, not liking that Coran had just accused his equivalent of doing something wrong.  

Hunk is confused, “He is stopping Keith from sleeping?”

“Not exactly. It's the separation, I suppose,” Coran concludes, “They were attached by the ears the entire time they were on that planet. This huge gap may be causing the two distress,”

“Whoa whoa,” Hunk went pale, “Distress?? What do you mean?”

“Like separation anxiety,” Pidge rubbed her chin. She snapped her fingers, placing the puzzle pieces together, “They are restless without each other.”

“Wha- but they aren't… they still see each other,” Hunk whispers, not realizing it could be that bad

“Allura keeps them at a 5-foot distance apart at all time. It's like a wall is between them. They can barely even talk for longer than 30 seconds before they have to go their separate ways…. Allura and Shiro isolated them,” Pidge says, almost sounding spiteful.

Hunk covered his mouth, shocked. “Then- this is our fault.”

“No,” Keith says quickly. “I’m fine. This is nothing.” he had said that at least three times by now. They all knew he had to realize that he was far from okay.

“Keith.” Coran shakes his head. “This is a problem.”

“I don’t want everyone freaking out over nothing.” Keith slides off of the table, straightening his jacket. “It’s just poor sleep. I’ll get better.” he pauses, his voice soft, “Don’t tell Lance about this.”

“What?” Pidge frowned, “Why not?”

“Keep this a secret…” he pleaded, “I don’t want him worrying about me when we are about to head out on a mission. He needs to be focused, so he doesn’t get hurt.” he turns, leaving the room. By his request, they kept the situation quiet from Lance, Allura, and Shiro.

It didn’t stop them from worrying.

“Shouldn’t we do something? Let him go sleep?” Hunk inquired softly on the deck, making sure to keep his voice low.

Pidge shakes her head, “He says he hasn’t been able to sleep well, even when exhausted. I don’t think it will solve anything. Perhaps if we gave him something to force him to sleep it could work.”

“For the time being that might be the best option. We’ll need to wait till after the mission though. I have something that can help him sleep, but it’ll knock him out for several hours.” he turns, rubbing his chin. He had a look on his face as if he was thinking about something. “I have a feeling this is something much more than just not being able to sleep.”

“Is he sick?” Hunk asked, worried.

Coran shakes his head, “No, not quite that either. I’ll have to do a little research to confirm this. For now, make sure to keep an eye on him when you head out there.”

The two paladins nodded.

As Coran left Hunk went to follow him but was tugged back by Pidge. “Pidge?”

She stared at her feet, biting her lower lip. “Hunk,” she says stiffly. “If Keith’s health is in jeopardy because of Allura’s rule…. Then we need to do something about it.”

Hunk shifted on the balls of his feet, “I agree!” he says quickly, “But what can we do?”

Looking over her shoulder to the computer, the green paladin felt an idea budding in her mind. “We’re gonna get a few pictures spreading around.”

Not sure what she meant Hunk followed her to the computer regardless, ready to do what he could for his friends.

15 minutes later they were fist bumping each other, their plan in motion. By the time Allura would realize what happened, it would already be too late. The had ignited the flame; now they just had to wait for the fire to spread.

“Social media is great.” Pidge snickered

Chapter Text

The news had spread fast, like a wildfire through the Coalition. No one knew where the info had precisely come from, but the pictures and small articles on the situation were undeniable. And being the most significant symbol of peace in the known universe, it was quite some hot information.

The Red and Blue paladin of Voltron were Equivalents.

Of course, many cultures had a different term for it; They were lovers, married, mates, a joined union.

Even Relo had come into possession of this information just as he was heading out with the Blade of Marmora to discover the objective of the Galran ships. It was unrelated information to the mission, but given they had some time before they would even get close to the ships, Relo let himself look through the juicy gossip.

“Kolivan,” he speaks quietly, leaning against the Marmora leader’s seat.

“What is it?” Kolivan kept his gaze ahead, focusing on steering the ship. He only glanced in Relo’s direction when a finger caressed his arm. “Yes?” he says in a softer tone.

Relo lifted the screen up for Kolivan to see. “Were you aware the Red and Blue paladin are each other’s Chosen?”

Kolivan looked at it for only a few seconds, “Does it matter if they are?”

“No, I just thought it was interesting.” Relo mused. Slowly his smile fell, tilting his head back. Kolivan noticed the change in atmosphere.

“I know that look,” he says. “What is bothering you?”

Relo shakes his head, “Keith has gotten quite thin lately. I haven’t seen him with Lance very much either, despite being each other’s Chosen.”

“We’re in a time of war. It happens. You had to go away on that Iespion mission for a long time.” Kolivan says in a tight tone. Relo nods. He had trained for it, but he still couldn’t seem to prepare for just how painful it would be.

To be separated from your Chosen.

Though he supposed Coeihns tended to call it;  Equivalency. It was relatively the same thing. The bond was strong within both races.

“How Galra do you think Keith is?” Relo inquired.

“Why do you ask?”

Relo leans against Kolivan, staring out to the stars. “You and I both know how dangerous it can be to be apart from one’s Chosen for too long. Especially when the bond is still fresh. I learned that humans don’t really have that kind of bond with each other. It just made me wonder if Keith does or does not considering he is a half breed.”

“I suppose we won’t know unless we ask him. Don’t focus on that right now. We have a mission to do. I don’t want you getting distracted.”

“Me? What about you?” Relo twirled his fingers along the long braid of Kolivan’s hair. “I don’t want a repeat of the Rumvic sector incident.”

Kolivan’s jaw tensed, “That was one time and we were a lot younger.” he said stiffly.

“You crashed an entire cruiser into another cruiser.” Relo says blankly. “That is as ‘distracted’ as a person can be.”

“You weren’t being very helpful that day.” Kolivan grumbled darkly. “You were reckless back then. You still are. Taking risks that you didn’t need to take.”

Relo recalled the memory almost fondly, staring at the picture of the two paladins. He was reminded of Kolivan and himself. “Don’t regret it for a second. It was the recklessness that caught your attention.”

Kolivan reached over, taking a hold of one of Relo’s ears to tug him off his seat, “That should not have been the kind of attention you wanted.”

Relo shook free, his ear flapping up and down. “It worked, did it not? You noticed me.”

They two share a small look, a secret connection shared between them.

“Take my blood and body...” Kolivan says repeating the vow all Galra swore to the day they became the Chosen of another. “Let it be yours till they turn to dust. In-”

“In return, our souls shall be one,” Relo whispered the finishing line. He’d never forget the day he made that vow.

As he returned to his seat, sensing Kolivan’s gaze on him from time to time, he thought back to Keith. That young little halfbreed….

Was he aware of the Galran cultures at all? If he wasn’t, Relo felt the first thing he should teach him was about the Chosen rituals and vows. He had his own Chosen after all.

He just hoped everything was working well between them. For Keith’s sake….

"Kolivan," he speaks up once more. 

"What?"

"Shouldn't we tell the red paladin about Krolia?"

Kolivan's gaze was heavy, no real sign of his thoughts shown on his face. "It would only cause complications with both of them. Krolia is reckless enough already, her son just as much. If she learns who the red paladin is it will be a reckoning, unlike anything we've ever seen."

Relo can't help but chuckle, "True. However, she will find out eventually if we don't tell her and then she will come after your head for keeping the secret. Scratch that, our heads. She will come after me too because I am also aware." he paused, "This entire ship. Everyone on this ship is now an accomplice whether they know or not. She will take them all out."

Kolivan let out a long sigh, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "We will deal with that when she arrives in a few days."

Relo accepted that, looking back down at the photo. He wondered if Krolia would like her son's Chosen. 


///////

“We got word on what the Galra were after yet?” Shiro asked as he circled his Lion around the now previously conquered Galran supply planet. With the ships leaving the area completely, it took only a few hours to gather the planets and liberate each one.

It was a great day for Voltron Coalition.

“The Blade of Marmora says multiple ships have begun converging on a single area, but our scanners can’t pick up anything out there. It’s open space.” Coran explained.

“That can’t be right,” Allura says, looking over the scanners again. “They wouldn’t put that much force into nothing without some reason. Shiro, I believe we should still investigate.”

“With that many ships?” Lance questioned, “What’s our backup plan if they turn around and start firing at us?”

“We’ll keep our distance till we can confirm what it is.” Shiro tells them. “Let’s start heading in that direction.” the team quickly returned back to the castle to initiate a wormhole jump.

“It’s gotta be something big if the entire Galran empire is after it.” Hunk says as they got to the bridge. “Makes me a little nervous.”

“Perhaps it’s a power source?” Pidge guessed, pushing up her glasses.

“We won’t know till we get there.” Shiro says as they take their seats. “Ready for the jump, Allura.”

“Right.” she sent a message out to the Coalition just as she prepared the ship to leave. “Is everything secured?” she asked.

“We’ve got it handled.” Ryner’s face appeared on the screen. “Are you heading to the next location?”

“Yes. We will contact you soon. Call the moment something starts to go wrong.” she requested.

“Of course.” Ryner bowed her head. She paused, the Olkari smiling a little. “Hello, Keith. Lance.” she says to them.

“Oh… Hi.” Lance waved, not sure why she was suddenly so friendly. “Keith, say hi back.” Lance nudged him. Embarrassed and not sure Ryner even knew his name Keith lifted his hand, waving slightly.

“Hello.”

Ryner found this pleasing, a few giggles echoing behind her. She hushed them to be quiet. “Leave the two in peace.” she says behind the intercom before smiling back at them. “Good luck, Paladins.”

Despite the conversation ending on a strange note, Allura nodded. “Right. See you soon.” not sure what that was about she ended the transmissionLet'sets get those coordinates in.” she says, moving up the platform to begin the wormhole jump.

No one seemed to notice the Yellow and Green paladin sharing a small smirk of victory.

A few minutes later they were making a jump to the supposed hot spot the Galra empire were heading to. Keeping back far enough to avoid detection they decided to let Pidge go in first. With her lions ability to camouflage, she would be able to get a close enough distance without being detected.

She never expected to find out what the Galra were after.

"Guys…” she choked out within the intercom.

“Have you confirmed what it is?” Shiro questioned.

“Yeah… And it isn’t making any sense.” There is a long pause, “ It’s him.”

“Who exactly?” Allura frowned, ready to send the lions off at a moment’s notice.

“It’s Lotor. They’re attacking Lotor!” 


 

///////

The Prince of the Galran empire stood alone, staring out at the stars from his ship. He folded his arms, deep in thought as his soldiers and generals worked below. They had begun to notice a change in his behavior. He had been distracted lately.  

It was obvious why, since he had been this way since they had run into that Blue paladin. They expected they would see Voltron a lot lately, which was no big deal. What bothered Lotor was how he had risked his own life to save the strange blue paladin back at the mines.

Lotor felt no fondness for him. Yet his eyes haunted him. He was capable, and a good shot from what he could tell. He could say he admired the paladin for those skills but that was it.

He had acted impulsively when he saved him from the collapsing cave walls. Even now he couldn’t fathom why.

He did not care if the blue paladin lost all hope or if he fell into a pit of despair. But he couldn’t just let him die. He didn’t want the paladin to die.

It was as if….

As if he wasn’t trying to save the blue Paladin, but someone else. Yet those kind of thoughts made no sense.

Something about his blue eyes made him feel sad.

Made him want to ensure they stayed safe, even for just a little longer.

It’s what made his own thoughts all the more confusing. He couldn’t talk to any of his generals about this because they wouldn’t understand either. He was on his own.

“Prince Lotor?” Acxa made her presence known behind him.

“What is it, Acxa?” he didn’t turn to look at her.

“I came to check on you. You’ve been up here for hours,” she says softly.

He took her words into account, “I suppose I have.” he agreed. “Just lost in thought, nothing more. How is the project?”

“Underway and right on schedule, sir,” she explains. “We are working around the function for the Telludove till we are able to get our hands on the technology.”

“It’s only a matter of time till then,” Lotor smirked. With the two biggest forces fighting against each other at this moment, it had allowed Lotor to go about his work freely. His father was so blind sighted by Voltron he hardly noticed what his own son was up to. 

 Of course, with this war came the unknown future of the universe.

Who would win in the end? The Galra empire or the new founded Voltron Coalition. If he had to be honest, he hoped the Coalition would win. His Father was not the man he once was, and if he continued to rule, there would be nothing left to rule over. Not that he ever cared about his Father’s empire.

He was honestly quite happy when he had been banished and the role of an eventual successor was taken from him. Good riddance to it. It was almost pointless anyway. Zarkon had no plans on dying, so a successor was foolish. 

“Everything is basically done. There are only two components left that we need.” Acxa explains.

“The comet and a telludove.” Lotor nodded. “Be patient. They will be ours through time.”

She nodded, turning to leave. “Would you like to join us?”

He smiles, following after her to check on the progress of his new ship to be. His generals welcomed him with smiles as he approached the vessel. It was hardly finished, but it could fly at the moment and sustain normal life functions for a few days. The engine was basic till they could get their hands on that comets ore.

“It’s coming along well.” he smiles.

As his generals talked about the ship to him, he felt something odd.

Something like eyes staring at him.

He had felt that feeling a lot lately, but couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from.

It was always there lately. He felt almost paranoid as though he imagined it.

Then he saw them. The eyes.

The cat that sat on Narti’s shoulder was staring at him. Its golden eyes were locked with his own, sucking him into its gaze. He frowned at the sense of foreboding.

“Narti.” he began to say before an explosion followed a second later.

They gasped when the entire ship tilted, the explosion going off in a lower level.

“What was that?!” Zethrid demanded. Lotor turned to look out of the ship, realizing a moment later what it was. The Galra.

A dozen of Galran cruisers had managed to locate them, taking fire a moment later. They stumbled around, struggling to keep their footing.

“How did they find us?!?”

Lotor turned, a lump in his throat. Slowly he looked over the sentries, then his generals. The sentries hadn’t left this base, so there was no way his father could have tracked them.

Then it only left….

He knew before he had to think about it. He just wished he didn’t have to.

But he could see it that feline’s eyes, boaring into him, watching his every move.

The damn witch.

He rushed forward, grabbing his sword. They had little time and he couldn’t hesitate. None of them would get out alive if he didn’t…

It was Narti. Or more specifically, it was her cat. It allowed her to see, as well as one more.

Zarkon’s witch. She had been watching them for who knows how long. Evidently, she had only just deemed them recently as a threat and informed Zarkon.

The tracked them through that cat and would continue to do so if they didn’t get rid of it. It sat on Narti’s shoulder. One swing it would be gone, and so would... Narti would most likely-

He had to do it. For the sake of everyone else, he had to. They wouldn’t be able to escape if Haggar knew their escape route.

“LOTOR, NO-!”

Just as he swung Ezor’s scream seemed to shock him enough to lose a good amount of his momentum.

Then that damn cat jumped!!

The next thing he knew he was slicing into the skin of Narti’s shoulder and lower neck.

He managed to curve to the right just enough to stop his blade from digging deeper, but Narti was falling backwards. Lotor dropped his sword, snagged her by the waist and bracing her fall.

Her body convulsed, reaching up blindly for the wound along her shoulder.

“Why did you do that?!” Zethrid demanded, her face pale.

Lotor turned to snap, “Get the cat!”

Acxa was already pulling out her gun and aiming. It ducked to the left, scurrying down the platform and squeezing through the door to escape out into the hall. She attempted to give chase before Lotor called her back.

“Forget it! It’s good as dead now! Get to the ship!” he commanded. His generals jumped into action, still confused and startled, but knowing enough that they had to get out of here.

He placed on arm around Narti’s back and the other around her knees before lifting her up.

Carrying Narti into the ship he strapped her into the seat behind his own and started up the engine. The others rushed to their own spots, barely able to strap in before Lotor was shooting off.

How they managed to escape, Lotor will never know. Their engines weren’t the best, but he supposed luck had been on their side today in some small way. He figured the ships were too busy blowing up the main ship that they didn’t notice them sneaking out within the debris.

When they were a safe distance away, his generals began to look towards him.

“Narti…” Ezor said through the coms, “Are you okay??”

She turned to look at the camera, gripping her shoulder tightly. Even with no eyes or way to speak, she still seemed able to convey “No, I am not okay!” through her body language.

“Lotor.” Acxa says, “Why??”

“You asked before how they located us. It was through that blasted cat,” he answered simply

“B-but… that cat helped Narti to see.” Ezor says.

“It was also given to her by Zarkon’s witch so she wouldn’t be a liability.” Lotor grumbled, “Haggar had a connection with it.”

“Is that what she is now?” Zethrid grunted, “A liability?”

Lotor took a long time before he answered, “At this moment, yes.” He could already feel the cold stares bearing down on him.

“If she is so useless now why did you bring her?” Ezor hissed

“Would you have preferred I killed her or left her there?” Lotor replied calmly, turning his ship to change their directions. “I saved her for there is value in all four of you. I appointed her my general long before Hagar gave her that cat because I could see that. Cat or no cat I still see that.”

His words seemed to dumbfound them to silence, their eyes widening. Acxa lowered her gaze, suddenly looking emotional. “I-I am sorry we doubted you. You said that she was a liability a moment ago so I assumed-“

“Her injury makes her a liability. Which is why we must correct it as soon as possible and get some medical assistance.” Lotor quickly corrected.

“Where though?” Ezor inquired

“I was just trying to figure that out before you all started accusing me of being someone like my father.” Someone who didn’t care how many of his allies he had to kill or betray for his own self-interest.

His generals quickly shut their mouths. Suddenly there was a tapping noise. When Lotor looked at the screen, Narti was saluting him. 

A sign of loyalty.

He let out the breath he had been holding. "Rest now, Narti."

Their best bet was to find somewhere to lay low for a while. Somewhere with shelter and supplies, but they had insufficient options.

Shooting back to the stars there seemed to be a small amount of turbulence. Not sure what sort of field they must have just passed over, Ezor suddenly began to panic.

“What the- When did that get there!!??” she screamed.

“What is it, Ezor?” Acxa demanded.

“The green lion! It’s right behind us!” looking back she was indeed correct. The green lion had been flying the opposite direction of them, the hull of the ship just beginning to emerge from some camouflage mode. It must have gotten too close to their own ship and it messed with the system, revealing itself.

“Voltron is here?” Zethrid grunted.

Lotor quickly picked up the speed, shooting to the right. It wasn’t long before the Green lion began its pursuit.

“You’ve got to be joking,” Lotor grumbled. Zarkon and this all in one day?

“Why is it just the one?” Ezor asked, readying the guns just in case the Green lion began to fire back.

“It must have been sent to scout ahead. Zarkon’s order probably caught Voltron’s attention.” Lotor theorized. Which meant that the Voltron castle and the rest of the lions were not far behind.

“Why are we running? If it’s just one I say we take it!” Zethrid pounded their fist.

“It won’t be just one for long.” Acxa frowns. “Is there any way to lose them?”

“Our ships are relatively the same speed.” Lotor scowled, “We won't’ be able to lose them out in the open.” he pulled up his scanners, realizing a planet was close. It was uninhabited, so even if they couldn't get away with speed, perhaps if they can get to cover they can find enough time to get Narti treated and figure out a plan.

With that small idea, he turned his ship to head in that direction.

It was his only chance. He just needed to gain enough distance and lose them around the planet.

Just as he assumed right as they got to the planet Voltron’s sizeable white ship appeared as well, the rest of the paladins emerging from it.

“Everyone hold on.” he nose-dived downward, into the planet’s atmosphere.

The red lion was hot on their tail, moving faster than they anticipated compared to the others. A few lasers shot out from the tail of the beast, catching the side of their ship from time to time. They chased each other around the mountains and forests below, like a game of cat and mouse. He never liked being the mouse in this situation.

"We'll never lose this thing-!" Zathrid grunted. 

 Lotor cursed when he felt his entire ship shake, as if from turbulence.

The warning signs proved to be something much worse..

Their back engine was hit, causing the ship to go into a spin. Losing control a moment later they had no means of trying to shield themselves for the crash against the trees below.

"Brace for it!" Axca roared

On impact, Lotor’s vision went dark for a moment, a flash of white following.

He suddenly remembered something strange.

A memory of his childhood.

He had only been a few years old, isolated from other Galran children as the Prince of the empire. His father was absent through most of his life, only showing up when it was time for Lotor to appear with him during political meetings or during arena matches.

They never talked.

Zarkon cared less about him, and Lotor knew why. He thought Lotor weak for being half Altean. Though that was no fault of his own. Perhaps his Father should have made a better choice on who he laid with if this was going to be a problem.

He never knew his mother. He was told she died when he was born.

Servants and trainers were the only people he interacted with. There had been one woman who served him. She had a child of her own. He would be a servant when he grew as well and was often with her.

When Lotor had time, they played together. He loved playing with that boy. It was his first and only friend. He was very precious and dear to him. He swore to protect him from any harm and have that servant boy train beside him. 

He wanted that boy to stand together as an ally. Go adventuring with him into the galaxy! It was a child's dream...

Then something happened.

What was it again?

It had something to do with his Father and the color blue. 

Blue.

 Something tragic had occurred because of a simple color.

It made him sad.

It made him mad.

It was the first day he truly ever hated his Father.

Perhaps that is why he never let his generals anywhere near Zarkon. He felt that he would do to them whatever he did to that servant boy. He couldn’t allow that.

So as the ship tipped over after the crash landing, he grabbed Narti, tossed her over his shoulder and broke the glass of his cockpit. The others were tumbling out, drowsy and disoriented.

Some sort of adrenaline was getting him to move, and he tugged them to their feet, barking at them to escape into the trees before Voltron could surround the crash site and touch down to round them up.

They stumbled to follow his order, escaping into the woods.

With their luck Voltron had lost sight of them, the heavy density of the forest scrambling their trackers.

They had time to figure this out, but with no ship and all of them injured in some way by the crash of his own blade, they had limited routes they could take.

All in all, he was having a bad day.

Chapter Text

Two hours had passed. They had safely managed to avoid detection from Voltron, but how long could they keep this up? How long before Narti could no longer carry on? They had no supplies, no ship, and no hope. Strategically, there was only one thing to do.

 A surrender of sorts.

 A conditioned surrender with a guarantee his team gets the treatment they need. He knew the Voltron group well enough to understand they did their best not to kill the enemy outright. They had often been called weak because of that by his Father. It was his saving grace right now.

 “We are running out options,” he told his generals sternly. “I have a plan, but I know none of you will like it.”

"That strikes confidence," Ezor mumbled.

 “Hate it already.” Zethrid agreed.

 “Please tell me you aren’t thinking what I fear you are thinking.” Acxa paled.

 “What?” Ezor asked. “What is he thinking??”

 Axca swallowed. “Surrender,” she states simply.

 “WHAT?!” Zethrid roars. “No way! I don’t surrender to anybody! Victory or death!”

 Lotor considered that. The Galra way… 

Deep in his bones, despite how rational he tried to be, he knew that mindset was there within him. One should expect victory, and if it cannot be obtained, then you fight till your final breath. He believed in those words, but not to the extent most Galra seemed to take it. To his people, it appeared that Victory had to be the conflict you were in at that very moment. If you couldn’t accomplish that you threw in the towel and that was the end of it.

 He thought that was rather foolish. Just because the enemy wins the battle does not mean they won the war. If you find yourself unable to win you shouldn't throw away your life if you don't obtain anything from it in the end. If he were to ever give his life, it would be a moment that would ensure his victory in some way, or even the triumph of his allies. Not some worthless sacrifice. Most Galrans he knew never thought that intensely about it before they chucked themselves into death’s embrace.

 “So we just charge into a slaughter?” Axca frowned at her ally

"I'd rather that then be their prisoner!!"

 Lotor raised his hand to calm Zethrid. “That may be alright with you, Zethrid, but you're not the only person in this equation. Narti will perish if we don’t do something soon.”

His generals look down to their injured ally, their eyes softening. Ezor kneeled to scoot her a little closer to the fire, noticing she was getting cold. They knew their leader was right, but as warriors, as Galra, it was hard to come to terms with it. Lotor reaches for his blade, looking them over one by one.

“Listen to me. Surrender does not mean the end. I figured with how this war was going that at some point we may have had to choose sides. Voltron is strong, but they have limited knowledge and areas to work with right now. They will value the information we have.”

“You plan to help them too??” Zethrid couldn’t believe her ears.

“This isn’t a one-sided deal.” he corrects her. “But yes, though they may not believe me at first, the knowledge I possess will be useful to them.”

“You make it sound like they’ll just let you go after a while…” Ezor mumbled.

“Perhaps they will. Perhaps they’ll even ask us to join them,” he said almost jokingly. Part of him believed that might just occur. “If I have to work with one side of this war, I would choose Voltron. Whatever comes out of this, in the end, we’ll figure it out when we are stronger. Do you want victory Zethrid? Then follow this plan. I assure you it will be a swift end if we take them on now.”

“So in the long run, give up now to fight another day?” Acxa guessed, “Once we’re all patched up and see what Voltron plans to do then we can figure the next steps.”

“Precisely.” Lotor nodded. “For now, you all must stay here. I will negotiate the surrender.” he turned towards the mouth of the cave.

“Let me come with you!” Acxa insisted.

“No, I need you to hold this position. Watch over Narti.” he motioned to her. Her body had begun to grow weak, barely able to lift herself off the ground. “I shall return.” with that said he turned and took his leave. He wandered through the woods, keeping his eyes to the skies to watch for Voltron movement. He could see the Castle, looming in the clouds.

The farther out of the thick forestry he got, the more his mind wandered past the ship, towards the sky. Deep blue and expanding as far as the eye could see. The life and beauty of this world were untouched, stain free of the Galra Empires rein. It was serene. The kind of place he would like to explore. 

That had been his dream as a child. If he could only have one thing in the entire known universe, it would have been to have that chance. He supposed nothing honestly stopped him from doing that other than his father.

Being banished, he was only allowed towards so many sectors, most having to be the unexplored areas. He was tossed into open space, uncharted and dangerous with no back up should things go wrong. His generals came into the picture a little while after his banishment. They were like him, in many ways; Half-breeds who found no welcome from both sides of their lineage.

They were judged for their differences and unique abilities, yet he found them fascinating. They had all eagerly joined him in the chance of escaping their old lives. Through time he found himself close to each of them. They had been more like family to him then his own blood had ever been. He cherished them.

Just as he had cherished….

The thought falls flat. 

Stilling himself to a stop, he looked up to the sky once more. The deep blue seemed to swallow him whole. That color haunted his dreams sometimes. Both in excellent and horrible ways. 

Once that color had meant nothing to him. Then he met Zaheen.

 A servant boy with blue eyes from his childhood. Yes…  Yes, that was it! He remembered now. It had been so long and had hurt so much that he wanted to forget. There had been a half-breed child who he used to play with.

While he looked Galra from all angles, so most never realized, his eyes were the giveaway.

They were so blue on certain days. Lotor recalled thinking there was no way a color could be that vibrant. Like an ocean or sky, they would change depending on that little servant boy's emotions. On bad days they seemed blue-gray, like stormy clouds that drowned you in the rain to come. On good days Lotor swore there was never a color so beautiful. 

Rich with warmth, it charmed him more than any amount of power or wonders.

 Those were the kind of eyes he wanted to keep in his life forever. Then his Father seemed to take notice of his infatuation and took action.

He deemed it a disgrace for someone of his bloodline to be around an untrue Galra. Instead of shipping the boy off somewhere else, or even forbidding them from seeing each other, Zarkon took actions to the extreme. 

He made an example of the boy, so Lotor would learn never to affiliate himself with the ‘ lower class’ ever again.

Lotor inhaled sharply when his chest tightened. He leaned against the trees as he mourned.

He could recall it in vivid detail despite how much he wishes he didn’t. That poor boy.

Poor Zaheen. His blue eyes had turned nearly silver with fear. His cry of pain still broke his heart.

Then the…

His foot snapped a branch. He jumped at the sound. It was too familiar. Too much like the appalling crack of a small spinal column splintering in two. He rubbed his eyes furiously to rid himself of the after image.

 He had something he was supposed to be doing right now. He had people here with him right now that needed his help. He couldn’t get caught up in the past. He had to make things right this time.

He pushed past the memories to make his path towards the future. With a goal of protecting what he still had it didn’t take long to find a few of the lions. They had landed, their protective bubbles up and shielding them from the world. It meant the paladins were not within and were most likely taking their search by foot. He decided his best option was to search the area and hope they hadn’t ventured too far from the mighty beasts.

A decent 5 minutes later he thought he was getting close when he found their trail of footprints.

Suddenly, there was a flash of color. He barely had time to open his mouth before the attack began. He blocked the first two strikes, knocking the other back. It was one of the paladins! At least… he thoughts it was. He was not dressed in the typical paladin gear and instead wore what the Blade of Marmora wore.

“I am not here to fight!” Lotor yelled

“Why do I have trouble believing that??” The Paladin yelled accusingly. The small Marmora warrior bore a single dagger, charging forth with such ferocity that he barely had time to lift his own blade. They fought for several minutes, each clash of the two metals sending a shiver down Lotor’s spine.

It was strange. He was... excited? He hadn’t felt a rush of adrenaline like for a long time. He felt dazzled.

His eyes wandered over the Marmora member’s body to watch his reactions almost too closely. He wasn’t the most significant build, but there was still strength there. Strength enough to hold his own. Did all paladins have such nicely structured bodies? 

First, there was the blue one, now this paladin? He felt he really didn’t need to add the Black paladin. Rumors and gossip about him spread through the entire Galra empire, and it wasn’t just about his title of champion or skills. His appearance was a very, very well known factor.

Which one was this paladin anyway? It was hard to tell when he wasn’t near his lion or wearing the usual gear. They were fast on their feet, yet there seemed to be something off. From time to time he would falter. His feet would stumble, giving an opportunity for a strong counter. It was as if this paladin was ill or something.

“Listen to me, I’m not here to fight!” he bellowed. When the paladin tried to strike him, he countered by kicking him against his chest. He slammed into the ground head first, his holographic helmet malfunctioning.

Raven hair fell from the disappearing mask, framing the face of snarling teeth and sharp dark purple eyes. Lotor felt floored. 

What beauty. 

Where all humans supposed to be this way or had Voltron made a requirement that you must be pure of heart or whatever and also be devilishly good looking??

His thoughts distracted him, barely able to catch the next blow. Their swords clashed together, his heart feeling like it was about to burst out of his chest. The paladins were uncanny!

“Keith!”

On cue, the blue Paladin had rounded the corner. He lifted his gun and aimed, barely grazing Lotor’s armor before he could duck down behind a tree. The blue paladin scrambled to help the raven-haired man to his feet, holding his gun up with his free arm in case Lotor tried something again.

“Are you alright?” he heard them talking. “Why did you rush in alone??”

“I had it…” the supposed “Keith” insisted.

Lance scowled, “Obviously not!’

As the two bickered, Lotor peaked out. Figuring this was his chance he called to the paladins. “Paladins of Voltron!”

They froze up, eyes wide. Lance stepped forward, “Come out and fight, Lotor-!"

"Lance, no!" Keith was tugging the blue paladin back. “You don’t know what this guy will do, stay back.” he insisted.

“Keith I got this,” Lance argued, tugging his arm away.

“He’s Zarkon’s son; he must be crazy strong, stay back!” Keith insisted. Lotor took that as a backhanded compliment but found the two arguing to be slightly amusing. They were like children, unable to see eye to eye.

“Keith you are the one who got beat up, let me handle this!”

“I didn’t get beat up!”

“You look horrible!”

“This isn’t from Lotor!” he cut off, “Well some of it is, but it’s- it’s nothing!”

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing!"

"If it's nothing then you should know I got this!"

"Lance, no! Let me take care of this!"

“Pardon the interruption you two, but could we get back to the matter at hand?” Lotor called from behind the tree.

“Oh, right.” they lifted their weapons.

Lotor lifted his arms in defeat, a very humiliating position but the only one he could think of. “Wait!” He tossed his sword to the ground, shocking them both. “I have not come to fight. I have come to talk.” Gaining their attention, he narrowed his eyes.

“Talk?” they grumbled, “After everything you have done?”

“I know,” he says slowly, stepping out with his hands held up. “I am not on Zarkon’s side. Never have been. In fact, I have no doubt you already know how he attacked my generals and me. I only ask for you to hear me out. I’ll do whatever you ask.” The two paladins shared a quick look. The blue paladin stepped back to inform the others, not quite sure what to think when it came to the Galran Prince.

“What’s your endgame with this?” The Marmora paladin grumbled.

“That my generals be spared,” he explained. “One of my own is injured from Zarkon’s attack. I simply ask they be treated and saved. She is blind now and will die from her injuries here soon if not treated.”

Something about his words seemed to strike something in the paladin, and he glanced back at his Blue partner. He bites his lower lip, “Blind…” he met Lotor’s gaze, “Where are they?”

“You must swear not to hurt them.” Lotor narrowed his eyes. After a few seconds, the so-called Keith nodded. 

“I swear.” Less then a few minutes later the paladins arrived. His generals and him were taken prisoner aboard their ship. It took a lot of convincing to get Zethrid to agree but knowing they would treat Narti was enough for her to at least calm down and follow through. 

They were each put in powered cells, left to wait there till Narti was healed and they could be questioned.

Lotor paced his own cell, deep in thought. Things were working out in some regards. The thing that mattered most was that Narti would be okay. After that, who knows. In truth, they could be killed at any moment if he didn’t play his cards right. He hoped the paladins at least answered to reason, unlike his father.

A little while later, an elevator fell from the floors above. He rose, watching its descent. When the doors opened the Blue paladin stepped out with a small tray. He approached the cell cautiously despite knowing Lotor could not harm him within it. He slides the tray forward, the metal able to pass through the barrier for a short second before it closed again.

“I brought you some food and water.”

“A kind gesture,” Lotor says plainly. He kneeled down to take the water, his throat scratchy and sore. When Lotor met the paladin’s gaze, he felt drawn to his eyes. 

The icy blueness generated a feeling like he was being pulled into a lake of frozen water. They were different from the last time he saw them. Back in the mines when they had run into each other by accident, his eyes had been the color of a newly bloomed and rare Bluestar flower; enchanting and delicate.

Lotor could tell by his body language that he did not like him, and those flickering azure orbs confirmed his thoughts. Lotor took the glass, taking small sips. He stared at the paladin, a numb feeling absorbing him.

“You remind me of him…”

“What?” the paladin questioned.

The galran prince shook his head, “You remind me of someone I once knew.” He turned his head to the side a sadness coming over him. “When I look at you, I miss them.”

A small pause fell between them before the blue Paladin asked, “What happened to them?”

“They were killed. By my father.”

Lance inhaled slowly, taking that in. It shouldn’t have been that strange that even the son of Zarkon would mourn the dead. It still surprised him.

“Were you two close?” it was a very intimate conversation considering the situation.

“Very.” Lotor sat down, folding his hands together. “He was different. Both mentally and physically. He was a gentle boy with blue eyes. Something very un-Galra to the normal yellow our eyes tend to have. My father disapproved of it- Of the boy being different. He says the blue color was a weakness to the Galra Empire…” he left the topic to linger in the air.

“I’m sorry for your loss.” the paladin says quietly.

When a decent minute passed Lotor asked, “How is Narti?”

“Healing well. The Princess will be down soon to talk to you. I suggest you be honest. No lies.” the paladin warned, retreating back to the elevator and disappearing. Lotor watched, then chuckled. This was by no means a funny situation, yet he laughed. He never thought he would be in a position like this. Prisoner to Voltron, forced to follow their rules. 

And what was worse?

His mind was racing at just how attractive they all were. If this was just a few of the human beings in the galaxy he was seriously considering taking a vacation to their home planet.

Chapter Text

Lotor felt as though he was losing his own mind.

He wanted to assume his infatuation with the Blue paladin was due to his past. The loss of his beloved Zaheen. Yet he knows even if he had never met Zaheen, he still would have had a weak spot for such a dazzling creature.

Then, of course, the red paladin was a dark haired beauty with a fiery spark. A warrior with immense talent and skill!

Did he really have to bring up their leader? The Champion that was well known through the entire empire, both for his skill and rather attractive physic. No, he did not need to go into details on why that man was on everyone’s list of attractive people.

That was it. He thought that would be the end of it.

Yet here he was, gawking at the yellow and green paladin as they carried a few supplies past his cells. They were giving him wary looks but held no fear in their body language since a cell stood between them.

To begin, the yellow paladin was… soft. Lotor had no other means of describing him. He was a large fellow with rounded cheeks and gentle eyes. Lotor rubbed his chin as this paladin lifted almost twice his body weight in supplies, hefting it around like it was nothing!

“You are quite strong.” Lotor felt himself think aloud.

The paladin blushed. He blushed for pete’s sake, and scoffed in embarrassment, trying to insist he wasn’t but thanking him anyway for noticing.

Nothing should be that cute, Lotor decided.

Oh, but the green paladin sure did try to beat it. They were so small! Their hair was bright and fluffy, framing rounded eyes that seemed to only grow bigger thanks to the spectacles pushed up on their nose.

They seemed to be the brains of the Voltron team with this spunky spirit that did not yield to anything. Only to turn around and squeal in delight at the slightest mention or sight of something science related.

What was with human beings?!

Then the pièce de résistance appeared. The Princess of Altea; Princess Allura.

She was beautiful, her hair as white as snow and eyes the color of an azure sky. He must have had a thing for blue because he found himself charmed every time he saw the color.

And her eyes were blue. The blue of water so deep that Lotor was afraid to jump in, but was still tempted to.

This fair beauty was accompanied by a well-groomed man with a mustache. He twirled that fuzzy beast between his fingers with pride.

Lotor really should have reconsidered his options before agreeing to board a ship with so many beautiful people. It wasn’t good for his seeking heart.

It wasn’t that strange to find these people attractive either, was it? He was a young man, right around the age one would normally start to seek out their Chosen.

So really, it couldn’t be that surprising.

So he quietly admired the view of the paladins from his cell, drawing out the interrogations to let his eyes have their fun for just a few seconds more.

Most of their questions were the same anyway.

What were the Empires next stages of attack? What were his own plans? Why was he being attacked by his own Father?  

What was Zarkon planning and where was he now?

“I’ve told you everything I know as of late,” Lotor grumbled. “My Father has most likely moved locations since attacking me so I do not know where he is located. He attacked me because he viewed me as a threat.” He lowered his voice, “My only goal as of now is to ensure my team’s survival and keep them safe.”

Shiro, the black paladin, seemed to accept these answers for the time being. They were still discussing what to do with him to what he could tell. He offered to aid them in their fight- give them intel and support if required, but that did not mean they trusted him.

They had to discuss this with their allies before any decision on him could be made. He accepted that and opted to wait for the time being.

The Princess’ second hand, Coran, gave him constant updates on his team. Narti had healed well and was out of the pod they had placed her in.

She was going to live.

He was relieved.

“Is there any way for me to see them?” he inquired softly.

Coran paused, looking back towards the elevator. “I’m not sure.” he admits, “I’ll discuss it with the others and get back to you.”

More waiting. He wished he was at least given something to read to pass the time.


“You’ve detained Prince Lotor?” Ryner was rushing in, looking a tad haggard. Allura smiled to greet their Olkari friend, pausing to look confused.

“Ryner, you look exhausted,” she says, worried.

Ryner took a deep breath, “Things have not been easy.” she admits. “Many reports have come in since you left. The Galra empire has been moving in strange paths. Zarkon is planning something, yet we don’t know what. Forget that for now. What do you plan to do with the Prince?” 

“I am not sure,” she admits, glancing at Shiro. “He claims to want to join our cause. I’m not certain how far we can trust his words. Even considering hearing him out is something I should discuss with the rest of the Coalition.” 

Ryner nods, understanding, “I’ll gather the leaders for the meeting. Is everyone on your team alright?” 

“Yes,” Allura answered, yet something deep within her said no. She looked back at the towering castle, the ship shining like a pillar of hope. She should feel overjoyed they managed to capture Lotor and have a chance to learn more about the Galra…
So why didn’t she?

Why is there a bubble in her chest? She placed a hand to her collarbone, inhaling deeply. “When can you have the Coalition ready for this discussion?”

“A matter of minutes. They have eagerly awaited your return once hearing your news about Lotor.” Ryner turned, motioning for Shiro and Allura to follower her.

Leaving the others back at the castle to restock and resupply, Allura entered the meeting room within the Olkari capital. Turning on the screens it took only a few moments for her fellow leaders to appear, welcoming her with smiles.
“Are you well, Princess?” they asked.

“Yes. Voltron and its paladins are safe as well. Thank you all for gathering so quickly.” she turned when the doors opened, Kolivan and a few more Blade members entered the room. “Welcome.” she says, “I cannot thank you enough for your support during that mission.”

“We do what needs to be done.” Kolivan says gruffly, “The moment was too strange to miss anyway. Over a dozen ships sent to a single target… It was all for the purpose of capturing and or killing Lotor.” Kolivan concluded.

“That appears to be the case,” Allura nodded. “Though we still do not fully know the reason. Lotor claims it is because his Father viewed him as a threat. The only question is why. What exactly was Lotor doing to make his father take so much action to stop him?”

“I doubt he’ll cooperate.” One of the leaders spoke, “I don’t trust him.”

“Neither do I.” Allura admits, “Yet I feel we should at least hear him out. If he has information we could use, we should use it.”

“What would he require in return for this information?” The room chorused.

“That is unknown. There are many things we do not know about Lotor, especially what he wants to gain at the end of this. Yet Zarkon’s attack has proven that they are not allies with each other.”

“Does not prove he is on our side either,” Shiro adds in. “Normally I would think an enemy of an enemy might be a friend- But Lotor seems like the type who isn’t on anyone’s side but his own.”

The room nodded in agreement, yet couldn’t seem to find any conclusion.

They had all learned through interactions with the Blade that not all galra were similar to Zarkon, but no one could deny they were untrusting to Lotor for his blood ties to the tyrant.

Allura realized they would most likely be here for a long time.

"Oh, and Princess Allura. I realize this is a sudden topic change, but I forgot to congratulate your paladins." One leader spoke up. The Lotor discussion had been put on hold as she spoke, smiling kindly at her. 

"Congratulate us?" Shiro asked. 

"Your Blue and Red paladin." he continued. "Their binding is quite the happy occasion in such a dark time filled with war. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard the news." he gushed. 

"Oh! Oh yes! It brought joy to my people and myself to hear that as well!" Ryner agreed, smiling. 

Allura's smile was cracking, feeling dread build in her stomach. "I-I'm afraid I'm not sure what you are referring to," she admits softly. 

"Their union." the leaders insisted. 

"I hear on Iespion it is called Equivalency." 

"The Galra call it their Chosen partner, yes?" Ryner inquired to Kolivan. 

He didn't seem too interested in the topic, wanting to get straight to business and work out their plans with Lotor, but humored them enough to nod. "Yes. Galra only mate once in their life so it is the greatest joy one can get when they have become one with their Chosen."

"Oh, how charming." Ryner cooed. 

Allura took in a deep breath, her hands rolled into tight fists. 

She steeled herself, his voice crystal clear. "I wasn't aware this news had become public. How did you all come to know of this?"

"It's spreading throughout the entire Coalition." One explained. "Pictures and a few articles to discuss their eventually, oh how do earthlings call it(?)- oh yes! Their marriage!"

"Marriage," Shiro says the word a second time, the reality of it hitting him harder then he thought it would. Keith and Lance already had the rings to match, after all. 

He honestly didn't know how he felt about that anymore. Keith was- he was too young for that! He was his brother, after all. His little brother that he taught how to fly a hoverbike, helped with his homework and stood by his side when he was alone. 

And Lance was... was a good person but a playboy who flirted with any girl he saw and who Keith hated! Someone who put Keith down a lot and insulted him. Someone who called Keith an emo loner and couldn't be in the same room as him. 

He wasn't ready to just let Keith go, especially with someone like... Like Lance. 

"I see," Allura says simply. "Well, I would really like to focus on the topic of Lotor." with a wave of her hand, her eyes a calm yet piercing, the leaders of the coalition followed suit. 

None realizing the boiling anger seeping into Allura's heart. 


 Dinner with the paladins had been tense. Just a few floors below was the Prince of the entire Galran empire and his generals. It was something they never thought would happen.

 “So what do you all think?” Lance inquired to the team.

 “It’s hard to think about,” Hunk admits. “I don’t know what to feel about the guy. All I think about is how much it hurt those times we fought against him… still go bruises.” he whined, rubbing his arms.

 “Yeah, he hasn’t had the best track record.” Pidge pushed up her glasses. “It’s almost impossible to decide what to do with him in a single day.”

“I do. I don’t trust him. That’s that.” Keith mumbled, jabbing his fork against his food, yet not eating a single bite of it. Lance nudged his hand a bit to try and convince him to eat. He didn’t.

“Even if we don't’ trust him, he has information we could use.” Coran offered softly. “It might be for the best to learn what he knows. Plus, everyone deserves a second chance.”

“Are we sure we can even trust anything that guys says?” Pidge questioned, “He let himself get captured so easily.”

“It was for the sake of his comrade.” Coran reminds them, “Which, by the way, he has requested to see.”

“He wants to see them? Now?” Pidge frowned.

“Wouldn’t you if the last time you saw us we were bleeding to death?” Lance questioned her. Pidge turned her head. Something seemed to flash behind her eyes.

Many months back when Lance and Keith had been teleported for Iespion. All they found was blood…

“I would,” she mumbled quietly.

“We could escort them down to his cell later, but keep them cuffed.” Hunk suggested. “Even only go one at a time so we could all keep an eye on that one general.”

“Sounds like a good plan~!” Coran says enthusiastically. “We’ll tell Allura and Shiro about it when they return.”

The team nodded, finishing their meal. Forks scrapped the plates. All except for one.

Keith was quiet the entire meal, poking at his food and eating very little of it. When Lance tried to give him a small smile across the table he avoided eye contact.

“Y-You gonna finish that?” Lance asked him.

“Not really hungry,” he muttered. 

"Keith, you haven't eaten a full meal in a while." Lance pointed out, concerned. 

"Well isn't that my business? Not yours." the red paladin replied gruffly. 

It caught Lance off guard. "I... guess." he looked away, not expecting to get such a cold shoulder. 

“I’m actually done.” Keith moved the plate to the side, standing up. “I’m gonna go train.”

“We just got back from a mission,” Lance says quickly, not wanting him to go.

“Need to clear my head.” Keith turned abruptly

Lance started to get out of his seat, “Well, I can go with you-”

“I want to go alone !” Keith snapped. Lance flinched, a flash of hurt crossing his eyes. Keith wouldn’t even look at him. “I’ll see you all later.”

He slammed the door as he left, the table seeming to shake from the force. 

"What is with him?" Pidge questioned. 

Lance’s mind was racing. Was Keith mad at him about something? Had he done something to upset him lately?? They hadn't really been able to talk

When Keith left he looked at Pidge and Hunk. They were giving him the same looks, both sides hoping the other could explain what that was about. Neither of them could.

“He seems to be… kind of grumpy.” Pidge says awkwardly.

“Has Keith talked to either of you two lately?” Lance asked. Maybe he had said something to them that would help him figure out why he was suddenly so angry.  

“No. We thought he might have talked with you.” They tell him.

“Especially since that deal thing is basically over.”

“The deal… it’s over?” Lance hadn’t actually had time to confirm it with the Lotor mission, but was it true? Was he able to be with Keith with no problems now??

“It’s been a month.” Pidge nodded, “You two haven’t changed.”

“Yeah.” Hunk avoided Lance’s gaze, still regretful about what happened. “You two proved, at least to us, that you love each other.”

“Hunk…”

“I was just super dumb for not seeing it the moment we found you.” His lower lip quivered, looking at one of his closest friends. “I'm sorry, Lance.”

“Buddy…” Lance smiled, “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have just expected you all to accept it either. I’m just glad now you know and believe us. A-And you’re both okay with it, right? Us being guys….”

“Being gay isn’t ever a problem, Lance,” Pidge says quickly. “Or Bi, or straight- Or any other billion of different types of people there are out there. You are who you are and that’s it. We like you for you, and if Keith makes you happy, we’re happy too.” she folded her arms, having said her mind.

“Yeah!” Hunk quickly agrees, “I always thought you were Bi anyway so- you being with a guy was never the issue. I just-” he hesitated, “I don’t even know why I agreed with what Allura and Shiro said. I was just shocked. I never expected you two to get together and when you did I couldn’t figure out how it happened. Listening to Shiro’s crazy theory was a possibility of what happened… and usually, Shiro is right. I just agreed. I shouldn’t have.”

“We’re both sorry, Lance.” Pidge nodded her head.

“Me too,” Coran spoke up.

“You too, Coran? You have nothing to apologize for. You supported us since the very beginning.” Lance argued.

“No, I supported you from the shadows. I didn’t stand up for you when it really mattered. I should have said my mind to Shiro and the Princess.” he scolds himself. “You two lads were suffering all this time because I couldn’t put my foot down. I’m sorry.”

“Guys…” Lance felt teary eyed. He was happy this was happening. It took some time, but his friends were supporting him. He couldn’t help but forgive them. “Thank you.”


Love was horrible, Keith decided. Wonderfully, miserably horrible. It made him feel so vulnerable. It opened his chest and messed him up, literally. These last few weeks he felt like he was dying. 

Part of him wondered if he really was.  All because of Lance. It all started with those little smiles of his. Then all of the sudden his life wasn't his own anymore. This love was burning him, the fire so deep inside he couldn't put it out and could only watch as it slowly ate him away.

Devouring him piece by piece. 

 To him, he's never felt a greater pain. Not just figuratively. It wasn't just in his head. It was like... a soul-hurt. A real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. 

Enough to have him hacking violently as he leaned over the sink. As he coughed, a dark red substance stained the porcelain white of the bathroom sink.

He gasped for air between each cough, bracing himself to the counter for support. He felt awful. Like something was tearing him apart from the inside.

He could feel this coming while he was eating with the others, the bile in his throat rising with each sentence they spoke. He tried to push through, especially since he was able to eat lunch with Lance without Allura being there, but he just couldn’t make it.

He had rushed to make an excuse and in the process, he yelled. 

Right at Lance!

The hurt in those beautiful blue eyes made him want to crawl under a rock and never come out.

He never wanted to do that. He was so desperate for Lance not to figure this out or worry about him that Keith resorted to anger. It made him sick…

The second he was done here he needed to go apologize. Assure Lance he did nothing wrong.

He looked at himself in the mirror. Maybe he could even have some alone time with Lance since Allura was busy? Some snuggling, a little pampering… being spoiled by each other. That all sounded amazing.

Keith felt a warm feeling coil in his belly, stilling the goosebumps on his arms. If he didn’t hurry he might miss that window.

Brushing his face with the towel hanging within the bathroom he tossed it into the hamper so no one would see. He checked his teeth to make sure there were no signs of blood and was just about to turn on the sink to rid the remaining evidence when the door made a noise.

Someone was banging on it.

He froze, scrambling to open it. Was it Lance? Had he followed him?? Tossing it open, pressing his shoulder to the side to block the bathroom from view, he peeked out.

“What?”

Relo, his new trainer from the Blade of Marmora, offered him a nod.

“Greetings, Keith,” he says. “I’ve come to collect you for training…. And use your bathroom. That is a bathroom, right?” he motioned to the door. “I have been up and down this castle and I have not been able to find one.”

“Oh…” Keith felt his worry dissipate, sighing, “Yes, it is.” he frowned, “Do we have to do training now? I have somewhere I need to be before the Princess gets back.”

Relo tilted his head, “I believe you told Kolivan that you would commit yourself fully to the Blade when you were not off on missions.” he says sternly. “Are you taking that back?”

“W-What? No.” Keith shakes his head, “No I’m committed! I’m just- there is someone- uh, something super important that I need to take care of first.” he stepped out of the bathroom, hoping Relo would understand. “Please.”

Relo pursed his lips, glancing at the time. “I suppose.” he says, “You only got an hour though.”

Keith figured Allura would be back by then anyway and nodded, “Thank you. Thank you.” he smiles. “I won’t be late!” with no time to lose he rushed to the right to find Lance.

Relo rolled his eyes, chuckling, “Must be about that Blue paladin.” he says to himself, entering the bathroom. “Jeez… fancy.” he shakes his head at the overdone bathroom, perfectly content with just four simple walls and a toilet for his ideal toiletry, unlike this mini-mansion.

Doing his business he went to wash his hands only to back up to the wall in shock. Taking a second to understand what he was seeing, he rushed back to the sink and peered in.

A brilliant red color was staining the pure white color before him. It was splattered, specs of the freshly drawn blood covering every inch.

Relo realized without having to think about it too deeply. Not even caring to wash his hands now he rushed out of the bathroom to remember which way Keith had gone.

There was no other explanation since he was the last one in there!

“Keith!”

He turned to start his search, just to meet sharp purple eyes. He froze in place, inches from running into an old friend.

“Hello, Relo.” To Relo’s surprise and immediate horror, Krolia stood in the hall. Her arms were crossed, a death warning burning in her eyes.

“K-Krolia!” He inhales sharply. “What are you doing here?” and in the castle no less.

“I just got back.” she turned her head, “And I wanted to meet the paladins.”

Relo knew there was only one paladin in particular that she was interested. “You seem worried about something.” Krolia pointed out sharply. “Were you looking for Keith?”

“Uh….” Relo stepped back. “He… um….”

“And more importantly.” She lifted up a familiar looking article that had been going through the universe lately. The story and photos of the Red and Blue paladins who had recently become Chosen to each other. “Want to explain why you didn’t tell me about this? Or that my missing son had been found on Iespion?” she growled.

Relo couldn’t find his voice. He was so screwed.

Krolia snagged his ear, tugging it roughly. "Ow ow ow ow!" he yelled. "Where are we going?" he demanded fearfully, forced to be dragged out of the Castle. 

"To find Kolivan since I know he is involved in this!"

Relo whined, feeling his ears were gonna be ripped right off! Which would be a shame considering Kolivan seemed to like his ears in particular. 


Lance decided to go back to his room when Pidge and Hunk decided to be the ones to let Lotor see his injured general, Narti. They would escort her down there with Coran watching to let the Prince see her. 

Lance offered to help but they insisted they could handle it and that he should go sleep. Or maybe go see Keith. 

Lance wanted to do just that but Keith wasn't in the training room where he said he would be. Was he avoiding him now? Maybe he was upset with Lance for not fighting Allura's dumb rule more this morning? Or maybe... he was starting to get bored and annoyed of him. 

Lance didn't want either option to be the case, but he would prefer the first choice over the second. 

"Where did you go, Keith..." he mumbled to himself. 

The sound of rushing feet echoed behind him. 

When he looked to see who it was, he feet froze up. 

"Lance!" speaking of the devil, he was charging down the halls at rapid speed. 

"Keith." Lance croaks, his feet feeling like they would betray him and collapse at any moment. 

Keith replied with two simple words, moving forward like a man on a mission. "An hour."

"What?" Lance asked. 

Keith grabs him suddenly and yanks Lance up against him, one hand at his back holding the blue paladin to him and the other gripping his jaw. 

Lance forgets to kiss back when their lips touch.  It’s sweet to him, so effortlessly sweet.

Then it changes to something Lance described as something stronger. Something desperate. 

Like Keith has to have him, like he’s dying to memorize every touch, every breath. 

He’s breathing heavily as if he’s lost his mind and looking at Lance like something has broken inside of him.

“Kiss me back,” Keith pleaded, and Lance did. The space that separated them evaporated as their lips touched with long slow worshipful kisses. 

All heat and desire. Lance thought he tasted a sort of coppery taste along Keith's tongue. It was foreign like Keith had cut his lip or something. 

"Got an hour." Keith murmured against him. 

"Let's not waste it then." 

Lance stumbled back against his door, blindly opening it. Once within Keith leaped up, wrapping his thighs around Lance's waist. Lance held him up all without breaking the kiss even once, kicking the door close and guiding Keith towards the bed. 

"Going to spoil you rotten," Lance promised. 

Keith's mouth curls into a smile, "Can't wait."

Their hour ended up cutting short to 30 minutes before Allura returned. She announced her arrival by setting off the castle alarm, refusing to turn it off until every paladin was present. 

Keith felt like he was going to explode. He felt like some phone in need of recharging. 30 minutes was not nearly enough Lance time. It was like he was at 5%, still in the red zone and threatening to turn off at any moment. 

"We should get going," Lance mumbled sourly, his face pressed into Keith's neck, where it was having its way with the mark he splattered along the skin. Keith's eyes were closed in bliss, mumbling in protest. 

"Let her throw her tantrum... Stay."

"It could be an emergency," Lance says, his thumbs caressing circles along Keith's hips. 

"It's not. I know it's not." Keith tilted his head to the side, delighted at his touch. "Can't we just ignore her?"

Lance's breath ghosted against his ear, "She'll come looking for us. Then Shiro will too..."

"Let them see."

"Keith." Lance snorted, "We gotta go." with one last kiss Lance got to his feet and pulled his shirt back over his head. Keith grumbled, grouchy and feeling like crap. 

Lance managed to coax him out of the bed eventually and they reluctantly marched down to what Keith knew was probably their doom. His assumption was correct when they sauntered into the bridge. 

Allura was pissed off, steam practically billowing out of her ears. She tapped her foot, turning off the alarm to change the screen to a few images. "Who. Did. It." her voice was thick with rage. 

Lance wasn't expecting pictures of Keith and himself to shoot over the screen. They were kissing, cuddling, holding hands in almost every single one! It was kind of... weird to see them all yet not know they were taken. 

"I... I'm sorry, what is the issue here?" He asked. 

"These!" she pointed to them again. 

"I see them." Lance nods, "And I'm questioning who took them."

"These were taken from the security cameras within the castle and spread throughout the entire coalition! Every single one of our allies is now aware of this... thing!" she motioned between them. 

"Apparently some sort of... leak, has gone out to the coalition. They all got a transmission involving everything you see here. Everyone knows now." Shiro says, standing tall and expression cold. 

Pidge and Hunk stood like statues, their expressions unreadable. Yet their smiles felt coy, as though they had a secret no one knew about. 

"How weird," Pidge says with an odd tone. "How could they get a hold of such slander from within the castle? It's a boggle to the mind~"

"Did you do this?" Allura turned to accuse Lance. 

"Hey, don't look at me! I didn't even know these existed till now. Did you Keith?" he looked at the red paladin, who was completely distracted by the display before him. He lifted his hand to point to one. 

"That one." His attention was taken by a very cute moment of the two of them holding hands, their foreheads pressed together. They were alone within the halls, the lights dimmed except for the blue ground lights highlighting their face. It was absolutely perfect. "I want it."

"The picture?" Lance tilted his head. "For what?"

"To keep it."

Lance felt himself smile wide, "You want to frame it or something?"

"Yes." Keith whispered. 

Lance's expression became soft, a look no one had ever seen him on his face before. He took Keith's hand, fawning over him, "How are you so cute?" 

Keith's cheeks blossomed red, smiling sheepishly. 

"Lance!" Allura scolded, "Knock that off this instant!"

"Knock what off?” Lance expression fell as he turned to look at her, morphing into something sour, “I am just asking Keith a question here. You saying I can’t talk to him anymore?”

“It would make a lot of things easier around here if you didn’t.” Allura said with a roll of her eyes.

“Ooh, I suppose that is the same for missions then? You’re absolutely right Allura. Next time I see Keith about to get shot, I won’t say a word. I’m sure it’ll work out.” Lance hissed.

“You know that isn’t what I meant.” she snipped.

“How am I supposed to know that? You are so uptight about all of this! How are we supposed to keep any sort of bond going and form Voltron if you won’t let us talk to each other? I mean, obviously separating us isn’t getting Voltron back together any faster. If you saw past your own ego you might have noticed!”

“How dare you!” Allura rose from her seat. “This team has been nothing but shambles since you've returned!” Allura growled.

Pidge pushes up her glasses, narrowing her eyes. 

Watching Allura pace, arguing with Lance, Pidge takes a moment to consider what she is about to say, wondering if it would be best to stay quiet. Deciding against it, she opens her mouth to speak up,

“You know Allura, some part of me can’t help think… perhaps we are tearing this team apart because we’re tearing them apart.”

“Excuse me?” Allura froze mid-pace and turned to the small green paladin.  

"Pidge." Shiro warned, wanting to try and keep some peace during this. 

“You heard me,” she growled the challenge, “I don’t know how previous paladins were, but I don’t see how loving and caring about someone makes one weak to the enemy. You can’t just throw away how you feel. No amount of separation is going to stop those two from loving each other,”

Allura hair practically bristles, outraged, “You have all taken a sacred oath! As paladins, relationships are not allowed-”

“We never took any stupid oath!” startled at Pidge’s outrage, Allura almost fell back, “We just threw on the gear, got into the lions, and formed Voltron. That is all that happened before we got thrown into this galactic war!! We didn’t even tell anyone back on earth what happened to us! We just left! We didn’t mean to find the blue lion, or find this castle, wake you up, get bounties put on our heads! We didn’t mean for any of that to happen! But it did! Just like how Keith and Lance ended up on that planet! They didn’t mean to do that, or to start caring about each other. But it happened. Things happen! You would think for someone who’s gone through everything you have that you would understand that!”

“How dare you speak to me that way,” Allura says darkly. It was then that Pidge saw it. The stuck up side of a princess who wasn’t often disagreed with by her allies. Who would argue with their Princess after all?

But Allura wasn’t any royal to Pidge. No, she was a friend.

A person who often got blindsided when her beliefs were questioned or gone against. They all knew how she treated Keith and the Blade of Marmora when they first met her. She was ruthless, and in some cases, kind of cruel.

“I’ll speak to you how I want, Allura. As you keep on saying, I’m a paladin of Voltron. I’m one of the only shots you have in this war, and by god, I am not some servant of yours. I’m your equal, so you better get used to it.”

If Allura wanted to have this whole team turn against her because she was unwilling to change.

Then so be it.

"Oh, and just so you know." she motioned around, her smile growing wicked. "I'm proud that I did this."

"Pidge...!" Shiro realized. 

"It was you??" Allura's jaw fell. 

"And proud of it!"

Allura was moving towards her, "I should have known it was you! How could you do this? It's a galactic embarrassment."

"It is not." Keith scowled at her. 

"You keep your mouth shut!" Allura snapped at him

"Don't yell at him!" Lance rushed forward

“Guys come on, stop!” Hunk pleaded, “All we’ve done is fight lately! This is exactly why we can’t form Voltron! What is the Coalition gonna say when they find out??”

"They've already found out everything else, why not just add this to the fire?" Allura threw her hands up. 

“Well it doesn’t help that Allura keeps picking fights,” Pidge grumbled.

“Me?? I’ve done nothing wrong!” she argued.

“Nothing?” Pidge scoffed, “How high do you have your nose for you not to realize most of the problems are because of you?!”  

“I’m not the one going against the paladin code!”

“Again with that stupid code! Give it a rest already! No one cares about that thing but you! Hey, here is an idea, forget the code!” Pidge

Lance was right with her on that one, “I’m with Pidge on this! It’s stupid!

“Both of you need to calm down.” Shiro instructed.

“You stay out of this Shiro. You have been nothing but unreasonable since we came back!” Lance pointed an accusing finger at him.

“Lance.” Shiro snapped, his voice stern. “You are making a scene.”

“Oh shut up, Shiro!” Keith finally snapped, leaping in the second Shiro tried to scold Lance. “Lance isn’t in the wrong here! He has every right to be upset! You got a problem with him you gotta go through me first!”

A moment later an all-out yell fest seemed to break loose. Hunk stood awkwardly in the center, joined by Coran in the chaos. The team was falling into shambles and there seemed to be nothing they could do to stop it.

Things couldn't seem to get worse, but the universe sure did like to prove them wrong. In the midst of the chaos, Keith seemed to stumble. His 5% had run out....

He suddenly took on a pale look, his skin ashen. It was as if his heart had suddenly stopped beating and all the blood had ran down into his boots. He swayed for just a moment, eyes slipping upwards past his eyelids.

Whatever Shiro was going to say in the heat of the argument with him, it was abruptly cut off. 

Then with one step backward he crumpled like a puppet suddenly released of their strings.

Lance felt his perception of time grow distorted, slowing as Keith’s body plummeted to the floor.

The thump of his weight colliding against the ground echoed in his ears painfully. The room shared a gasp, falling deathly still. 

"Keith...?" Hunk whispered. 

The pounding noise of Lance’s tennis shoes resonates off the walls of the room with a clanging echo as he burst into a run. His heart is throbbing inside his chest with the thick grief and fear of the unknown.

He runs to his equivalent, fearing the worse. 

Keith!”

Chapter Text

No one knew why Keith had suddenly collapsed, and at that moment it didn’t matter as to why. All that mattered is that it happened when it shouldn’t have.

“Keith!” an echo of voices called his name, each looking distraught. The first to get to him was Lance, despite being the farthest away. He was rolling Keith over, holding the back of his neck steady in his palm. He wanted to focus on the situation at hand, but he could feel dark memories edging it’s way closer from the back of his mind. Keith’s limp body was all too familiar….

He felt as though he was suddenly on Iespion again during the Galra attack. Keith’s body had been pale then too, his chest unmoving. He could still recall how each second moved at a grueling speed when he tried to find Keith’s pulse. His lips had been dried and chapped, his face lifeless but at peace. He had almost lost Keith that day.

He quietly pleaded with any unknown force that would listen to him. He didn’t want to have to go through that again.

“Keith!” Lance’s breath came out ragged and harsh as he pressed his fingers to Keith’s pulse. Why? Why? The thought repeated over and over in his mind. Why was this happening?

To his relief, a pulse had followed this time around. As the team moved to surround their red paladin, prepared to rush him to a Cryo pod, Keith’s body began to move again.

"Hn..." he grunts, eyebrows narrowing as he began to stir.

It hadn’t taken too long for Keith to regain consciousness. He had merely fainted for a split second from some unknown cause.

When the rad paladin jostled his eyes open, he reached up to hold his temple, quick to apologize when he realized they were crowding him. “I… sorry. I got dizzy,” he mumbles.

“Keith.” Lance breathed out, opening and closing his palms against his shoulders. “What just happened?”

“Was it something you ate?” Shiro swallowed thickly, his voice tight with worry.

“No.” Keith shakes his head. “No, I-” he observed Lance, noting the expression his face made. There was fear in the way Lance's fingers trembled, grasping every inch of Keith he could to ensure he was still there and okay.

“I’m okay,” Keith whispered, taking one of those shaking hands. “I don’t know why that happened.”

“Exhaustion.” Coran stepped forward with a guess.

“Exhaustion?” Allura questioned, chewing her thumb anxiously. “Have we been pushing him too hard?” It felt like a funny question from her in particular after these last few weeks, but Keith appreciated the concern. To an extent.

“He hasn’t been sleeping well.” Coran announced, “It has to be exhaustion.”

“You knew about this before?” Shiro questions him, eyes narrowed.

Coran sighs and nods, “I discovered this earlier today. We were just about to head off on the mission, and he pleaded for me not to tell until it was over. With everything that happened with Lotor the matter spaced in my mind.” he apologized, eyes heavy.

He could feel Keith giving him an accusing stare, betrayed that he revealed the information. “I’m fine.” he insisted, “I haven’t had the best sleep, yeah, but it’s nothing.”

“You just fainted.” Lance choked, “Fainted, Keith. That is a huge deal.” his hands were already moving to cup Keith’s face. He couldn’t quell how his body shook and shivered, his nerves unable to find peace after what he had just witnessed.

He wrapped an arm around Keith’s shoulders and pulled him close.

Despite the heaviness in Keith’s stomach, it fluttered at the feeling of Lance’s body pressed against his. He sunk into the warmth of his side, appreciative of the simple gesture. Lance's touch alone made the room warmer somehow, its walls seeming a little less bleak.

“We can bring him down to the pods to make sure it is nothing else.” Coran offered.

“That might be best.” Pidge agreed.

As Coran talked, Keith turned into Lance. His arms tightened around Keith, cradling him close. Their eyes met, a silent conversation passing between them. Everything was okay right now. They had no idea what would happen in an hour or even a few seconds, but at this exact moment, it was okay.

This simple sense of peace washed over them for the first time in what felt like forever. All they needed was each other.

The two shared a thought without realizing.

They were home.

Pressing his hand to Lance’s chest, Keith understood how lonely he had felt without him.

He buried his face into his Equivalent’s neck, wanting everything he could get out of this moment. And just like that, the world was fading. It took only one inhale, one beat of the blue paladin's heart, and Keith was closing his eyes. Lulled by the body warmth he longed for; Keith's body went limp.

Lance was surprised by the increase of weight, gawking at him. “Keith?” To his surprise, Keith had fallen asleep in mere seconds. “Keith?” he asked again.

“He asleep?” Hunk asked, concerned.

“I… yeah.” Lance nodded, “Just like that.”

“Ooh…” Hunk covered his mouth a little. He then swooned, “Aww, he just needed a hug from Lance was all,” he can't help but smile. The notion was cute to him. The team turned to find this seemed to be true and were all shocked.

“He can sleep fine in his bedroom,” Allura huffs, agitated. At least relieved that Keith was okay, she concluded, “We’ll get him something to help him sleep,”

Coran didn’t seem to like that as their only option, and sighed, “Yes Princess. Let’s get Keith back to his room to rest.”

“I’ll take him-” Shiro started to walk forward, but recoiled a moment later from the resounding slap against his hand. Lance had was tossed forward, smacking Shiro's fingers away as they got closer to Keith.

Shiro stepped back in surprise, holding his reddened hand, wishing he had tried to use his robotic hand in that attempt, “Lance?’

A quiet warning curled within Lance’s usually soft and playful eyes. “You’ve done enough,” Lance says. Scooping Keith’s legs up, he shifted him against his chest and stood, carrying Keith. “I’ll take him to his room.” He says, holding him protectively.

“Lance,” Allura frowns, not liking that idea

“I can't carry my sleeping teammate to his bed after he collapsed from exhaustion?” Lance questions her; his tone is livid. She visibly tensed. “What a great group of people we are,” he seethed, pushing past them all. His eyes screamed a challenge, daring Allura to even try and take Keith from him. He could guarantee she wouldn’t be coming out of it unharmed.

Allura swallowed, forcing herself not to step back in submission, but didn’t move any closer either. His challenge won he turned and walked to the door.

He only stopped when Hunk put his hand on the panel. His threatening gaze was changed to surprised when Hunk opened the door for him instead. Lance paused eyeing the yellow paladin curiously.

Hunk lowered his gaze a little, remorseful, his large brown eyes shining with guilt. “I’ll make Keith some hot soup. Take good care of him, okay?”

Lance’s anger melted and replaced with gratitude, “Thank you, buddy,” he tells him gently. With an ounce of hope for forgiveness, Hunk nods.

With that, Lance was gone, disappearing down the hall. 


 

Two hours had passed before Keith was jostled awake by a heavy banging. Realizing he was in his bed, he turned his head back and forth. He was calmed by a hand squeezing his own.

“Hey.” Lance’s beautiful face came into view.

“Lance?” Keith inquired weakly, “What are you doing here?” They are sprawled across his bed, snuggled close together. Keith was thrilled- but Allura quickly filtered into his mind. Where was she? Had Lance snuck his way over here?

"Watching a sleeping beauty." Lance smiled impishly. Keith hit his arm, snorting. 

"No, really." he smiles 

Lance blinks once then glances at the door, “I was worried about you,” he admits. “You passed out,"

“I did?”

“Yeah, so I carried you to your room. I tried to leave… but you wouldn’t let me go,” Keith’s fists are still bunched against his shirt, holding him tight. Gawking at his hands, Keith opens his fingers and pulls them away. They feel numb after so long of holding Lance there.

“S-Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Lance chuckles, taking his hands to kiss his fingers. “Allura got a little mad though that I wouldn’t leave.” he looks back at the door again. The banging Keith had heard a bit ago had stopped, and he wondered if it had been Allura.

“She tried to get in, but I manually locked it. So it can only open when I decide to leave.”

Keith felt himself smiling, “Are you serious?”

“Yeah. I've been in here for hours. Coran and Allura had their work cut out for them. She was so pissed- almost tore the whole door down. She left a little bit ago. I think she went to go get a plasma cutter.”

“Oh..”

“We have until then to be here.”

Love swelled in his chest. Lance was too perfect. “What a rebel you are.”

Lance grinned, “For you, sweetheart, I would do anything.” he sat up, reaching over to the nightstand table. “Hey, Hunk stopped by a bit ago too. He brought you this.”

Keith lifted his head to look at the warm bowl of soup offered to him. His stomach growled, a thing that hadn’t been happening a lot lately. His appetite was just never around. He had lost some weight because of it.

“That smells good.” he sighs dreamily. Lance placed it in his lap for him to eat.

“It’s his special brew.” Lance chuckled, playing with his hair. As Keith ate, Lance leaned down to kiss his shoulders, lathering him in affection. It was the best meal of Keith’s life.

“Your ears are cute,” Lance mumbled quietly, a few other sweet nothings sang softly to him. It was a significant distraction from his meal if Keith was honest, but he felt like a glutton for every ounce of Lance’s devotion.

“You’re gonna spoil me, talking like that.” he smiled, taking another sip of his soap.

“Oh, let me spoil you. I got several weeks of loving to make up for you know.” Lance insisted, kissing up his arm. Keith laughed when he kissed his neck messily.

“Gross! That was all slobber!”

“Accept my slobber!” Lance quickly took his empty bowl and placed it to the side, tackling Keith into the mattress.

Keith snorted, “Get off~!” laughter echoed in the room for a few moments, replaced eventually with quiet breathing and loving stares.

Lance kissed him tenderly, speaking against his lips. “You scared me.”

“I’m so sorry….” Keith murmured. “I didn’t mean to.”

“I knew you weren’t sleeping well, but I thought you at least managed to get in a few hours,”

“I’ve been trying,” Keith promised. “It’s just hard.

“Why aren’t you sleeping sweetheart?” Lance asks.

Keith’s heart breaks in two, stinging in his chest. “I’m not used to it anymore…”

A warm breath of air ghosts over Keith’s ear, “Not used to what anymore?”

“Sleeping alone…”

Lance gasps, “You-” he pulls away to look Keith in the eye, “Is that what this is about?”

“I don’t know what it is Lance,” Keith admits, “Something inside me just- it hurts. I can’t touch you, kiss you, talk to you- it’s killing me. I feel like everything inside me is freezing over.”

“Keith.”

“It’s like you’re a drug Lance,” he continues, “I got so used to being able to be with you- to touch you whenever I want to. Listening to your heart as I slept… I feel like I’m going through some sort of withdrawal! I can’t sleep without having nightmares. All I think about is waking up and you being gone. Forever.”

Lance chokes up, “Don’t,” his tone cracks painfully, “Don’t say that. I’m not gone. I’m right here.” he lifts his arms to embrace the other.

Keith buries his face into his shoulder, “But for how long?” he whispers.

Lance kissed his forehead, not sure how to answer. “I don’t know….” They lay there for a while before Keith spoke up.

“I probably smell gross. I haven’t taken a shower in days.”

“That is gross, but you smell fine to me,” Lance says.

“If we are gonna snuggle I should still take a shower,” Keith admits, feeling self-conscious about it with Lance here.

Lance smiled, “Shower it is then. I’ll take one myself.”

“You can go first.” Keith offered him.

“Thanks.” Getting up, Lance kissed him a final time before stepping into the bathroom in Keith’s room. Taking off his clothes he got the water running.

There were too many things happening, he concluded. Lotor, Allura, Keith. Couldn’t things calm down for a few seconds for him to think?

He sighed, scrubbing shampoo into his hair. He heard a soft click behind him. Lance’s body jolted violently when the bathroom door slides open. “Who-?!”

“Lance?” A voice sounded, like the rolling of a wave.

Lance goes still, breathing out softly, “Keith?” Peeking out from behind the curtain, he was met with purple irises, crystal clear and beautiful. “What are you doing here?” he wasn’t sure if he should cover himself or be casual about this. It wasn’t like Keith hadn’t seen him naked before.

“I was thinking….Mind if I join you? We could save water or whatever.” Keith was already removing his jacket, placing it to the side. With a kick to his pulse, Lance struggles to keep his voice steady.

“W-Wha- um… i-in the shower?”

A tick of a pause passed between them before Keith speaks. His tone is so quiet that it barely makes its way over the water. “I thought it would be nice,” he looks so desperate that it makes Lance’s chest burn. These last few days had been so hard… like he was ever going to say no to a chance like this.

He holds his breath, then stammers “G-Get in here. Hurry up,” Tossing off his clothes, Keith stepped in. They hug, letting water drip down their bare shoulders as they pull apart just enough to share a kiss.

They held it, chaste in all its glory, but enough to make their hearts ache at the familiarity. Before, they could do this all day long, whenever they wanted. Now, they were lucky even to have a second to stand in the same room alone together.

“Keith, can I wash your hair?” Lance always washed his hair for him.

His equivalent smiled, turning to offer access to his raven hair, “Of course,”

Lance takes his time in scrubbing the dark locks, running long fingers through it more times than necessary. Keith revels in the touch, absorbing every moment like it was his last.

He feared that maybe it was.

From behind him, Lance reaches around his torso to intertwine their fingers. In books or other kinds of things, couples might have commenced some hot shower sex right about now. Perhaps had things been different, they would be doing just that. But sex tended to go by too fast, clouding their minds with the intense pleasure. Keith couldn’t soak that in as well as this. Just… touching Lance. Pressing small kisses to his skin in silence, and just staring into his eyes.

“I love you,” Lance kisses his shoulder, “I love you. I love you,” his voice cracks.

No one told him love would hurt this much. No one told him that he would meet Keith Kogane and fall so hard for him that it would hurt just to be denied the very thing that envelopes his world.

“I’m sorry,” he wipes at his nose with the back of his hand, “I’m messing this up.” He was frustrated, angry- it was just too much, and the stress of it all was building faster than he could stop.

“No, you’re not ruining this,” Keith kisses his temple, “You’re not,” he swipes his thumb under his eye, catching both his tears and the water from the shower head.

The gentleness of it bubbles up an uncontrolled sob. “Ke-eith,”

Startled at the sight, Keith makes a hurt noise and holds him close, “No. don’t cry,” he quietly pleads, “Talk to me.”

“I hate this….”

“I know.”

“I hate this so much!” lurching forward, Lance clings to the other with everything he has, their bare bodies pressed as tight as humanly possible. “I- I just want… I want you,”

Keith whispers into his ear, “What?”

“Everything you are. Your body, your heart. Your smile. Your stupidly cute mullet,” he kissed the strands at his neck, worshipping them with kitten kisses, “I want you, Keith. So much. I want you so much I feel like…” he chokes up. Keith finished for him.

“Like I’m dying,” Keith breathes out choppily, his hands spreading out over Lance like he wants to touch as much skin as he can get. “You have it,” he vows, “You have everything I am, Lance- No matter what anyone says,” with nimble fingers, he lifts Lance’s chin enough to kiss him. “I love you,”

When the clock strikes the next hour, something starts ripping apart in their chests. They both knew Allura would be coming back eventually. Lance exited the shower to change first, leaving Keith to his torturing thoughts. He didn’t move, not until the waters turned icy, licking at his skin and making the hair on his arm stand up straight. Once he stepped out from under the water and out of the shower, he merely watched Lance get dressed.

His pulled on his jeans slowly, back muscles tensing as he tossed his shirt over his head. Keith had never seen anything so devastatingly beautiful.

Something heavy sat in his throat. He hadn’t felt this way since he lost his father…

Keith stammered, “L-Lance…”

Freezing Lance turned, watching the love of his life fighting back tears. Stepping forward, he pulled Keith against him, the water on Keith's bare skin soaking his shirt.

Keith never, ever cried. Yet, here he was, so hurt that it almost brought forth something that should never be. Lance felt hatred. For the first time since meeting her, he hated Allura.

Keith choked up a little, doing what he could to keep the tears at bay. He blamed the lack of sleep, the pressure of the ongoing war, and more than anything, the new and strange pain he had been feeling in his chest. It drove him mad, feeling like nothing in the universe could cure the pain except for the Cuban boy before him.

Still, crying in front of another person felt strange — a sort of defenselessness he wasn’t accustomed to. If he were ever to break down in front of anyone though, he wouldn't mind it being Lance. Just not today. “I’m fine.” he swallowed thickly, feeling a sense of composure coming back. 

“No you’re not,” Lance’s voice sounded tight, “I’m not either. This whole thing sucks, and sometimes I think we should elope. I mean, I know we are already kind of married, but we could do it again.”

Taking that in, Keith laughs brokenly, wrapping his arms around Lance’s torso, “Elope? They aren’t our parents, Lance.”

“Shiro is like a space dad. An uptight space dad who always thinks he’s right.”

“Shiro…” Keith sighs, “I’m sure he means well,”

“Maybe but not when it leads to this,” he takes Keith’s face into his hand, brushing at the skin below his eyes, noticing how Keith'seyelashes lashes were sticking together and wet. “Never this,” he kisses Keith’s cheeks. How Keith managed to hold back tears the way he did Lance would never know. 

“I’m okay…” Keith tells him softly. And he means it, because Lance was here. He knew though that when he left, the tight feeling would return. Like a wound reopening.

“Hey.” Lance kissed his ear.

“Hmm.” Keith leaned against Lance’s shoulder, uncaring how wet it got from his soaked hair.

“I want you to know that you’re the hottest biscuit this side of the gravy boat,”

Lance watched Keith’s face as the corners of his eyes crinkled a little, his cheeks blushed, and his whole face came alive. Lance decided then and there that he would spend the rest of his life making Keith smile and protecting his heart.

“What does that even mean?” Keith laughed. He laughed for a long time; his heart filled even after he got dressed and was tackling lance to the bed.

He needed that, and he was grateful Lance was always there to bless his life with a smile.

Perhaps Shiro was right about something. They needed some time apart to prove whether these feelings were true or not.

Keith could conclude something. He did feel different than when he was on that planet. Whatever amount of love he had for Lance, it had changed. It had doubled. Tripled. Increased at a speed he wasn’t prepared for. It enveloped all his sense, and sometimes, it felt like he was dying from those moments he wanted nothing more than to embrace Lance and not be able to.

“Keith~ You’re smothering me.” He laughed when Keith squeezed his equivalent again. Keith nuzzled his belly as he pressed Lance close, legs draped on the bed behind him. He paused for a moment before running his fingers through Keith's hair.

“Are you even listening, Keith??” Lance asked. Keith just hummed in reply before slipping under the covers with the blue paladin and clinging to his side. All the pain he felt vanished as soon as Lance’s scent filled his head and his fingers ran through his hair.

“Worth it,” he concluded.

“What is?” asked Lance.

“Allura being angry with us later. I want one night with you.” Keith explains

“It can be more than that, Keith,” Lance whispered. Keith lifted his head, curious.

“It can?”

“You made a good point earlier before we went on that mission to get Lotor. It’s been a month. We gave Shiro that deal and obviously Allura isn’t going to be changing on her own, so why should we even bother to meet her halfway if she won’t do the same?”

“Are you saying…” Keith held his breath.

“You are my equivalent, and no black paladin, altean code, or even Zarkon himself is gonna stop me anymore.” Lance grinned.

Keith’s eyes swelled with emotion. Grinning he surged forward to kiss Lance.

It was over.

This suffocation was finally over. Keith suddenly could breathe, his chest opening and his heart melting from the icey cold he felt the moment Lance and him had to turn away from each other.

“Allura is gonna be pissed.” he laughed

“Let her.” Lance scoffed. “I know some motherly lions that would gladly like to have a word with her about her behavior.”

“I’ll pay tickets for that showdown,” Keith mumbled.

“I’ll bring the popcorn~.”

“Hmm.” Keith hummed quietly as Lance’s fingers danced up and down his back. When he fell asleep after a few minutes, he dreamed of Lance, dancing in the ocean.

Watching Keith rest peaceful, Lance got to his feet. Moving to the door, he clicked the panel just as he heard footsteps on the other end. Opening it, surprising everyone on the other side, he narrowed his eyes to Allura, noting the plasma cutter in her hands.

He was half joking when he said she was leaving to get it. His disappointment in her grew to see it actually in her hands.

“He just fell asleep, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t cut his door down,” Lance grumbles at her.

Allura lowers the device, eyes narrowed. Pidge and Hunk were rushing forward. “Is Keith okay?” They asked simultaneously.

Lance closed the door, leaving it open a crack since the lock was messed up. “He was exhausted.”

“Should we move him to a cryo-pod?” Shiro asked, worried.

“If he is asleep now that is all that he needs. Lots of rest will get him back into shape.” Coran says. “We just have to make sure he can sleep at night.” they began to move down the hall to give Keith some peace and quiet. Halfway down the steps to the next floor, Allura spoke up.

“Then we’ll give him sleeping pills.”

“Can you take this seriously?” Lance snapped at her, pissed. “Keith just collapsed today! Because of you and your stupid rule! Don’t you feel anything??”

“ME?” She shrieked. “I am not to blame for him refusing to sleep at night!"

“He can’t sleep at night because of you!!! He isn’t purposively doing this!!!” Lance roars back

“Guys, stop!’ Hunk pleads with them, reminding them that they were still in earshot to Keith’s door and might wake him up.

Lance shuts his mouth and steps back. He had no idea how much this had been troubling Keith. It was both horrible and sweet to know how much he cared. How much he wanted to be with Lance and needed him there.

He blamed himself for not fighting harder for Keith. He felt so stupid. What kind of Equivalent was he? He didn’t even notice his love suffering like this.

He wanted to curl up under a rock and cry, but that wouldn’t solve anything. “I'm going to go talk to the Blade,” he announced.

“Whatever for?” Coran questioned.

“I don’t know. Answers. Maybe they can explain what is happening.” Lance says.

Coran’s mustache physically perks up, “That is a splendid idea! Here, let me join you. If anyone knows what is happening it must be them.” Stepping beside Lance, he quickly gripped his shoulders and turned him to walk down the hall, obviously hoping to separate him from Allura so the two could calm down.

“Good luck.” Pidge and Hunk say. 


 

“Don’t try anything funny.” Shiro had warned as he escorted one of Lotor’s companions down the hall. It was the one known as, Narti.

She was a tad unstable on her feet. One hand was held tight against her side while the other was extended outward to search for anything that might get in her way. She had been injured when they first captured her and the others. It was along her shoulder, a deep cut that would have been deadly if they hadn’t treated her when they did.

An attack from a sword, not from a blaster. Lotor said his Father had been the one to attack them, but he never saw any Galra soldier beside the blade of Marmora to carry about swords.

Either way, she was healed now, and Lotor had asked to see for himself that she was okay. They had fought her before, along with the other generals when they were still looking for Keith and Lance. She had been a very formidable foe back then. Despite looking like she didn’t have eyes, she knew every move they were going to make.

Now, she seemed blind. No, more than seemed, she was blind. He didn’t want to think it was the injury that had caused this, but she could no longer see anything before her, that much was certain.

“We’re at the elevator,” he says. She stops abruptly, waiting to hear the door open before she stepped in. Shiro kept guard as he stepped in beside her. They had agreed she was in no condition to fight, but that didn’t mean she wouldn’t try regardless.

For precaution, they had attached electronic bracelets to her wrists. Upon command, they would electrocute her unconscious if she pulled a wrong move.

With a plate of food in his hands, Shiro stepped against the side of the elevator, keeping his eyes focused on Narti. They were silent as they descended, heading straight to Lotor.

When the elevator stopped, he stepped out. He could see Lotor rising to his feet, waiting for him within his cell. His eyes widened when he saw Narti, stepping closer to the barrier keeping him within the cell.

Walking across the walkway, Shiro handed Narti the plate. “She’s coming through.” he motioned upward. “We have guns pointed directly at you should you try to escape.”

“I assure you I won’t,” Lotor says, nodding his head. With a nod, a part of the barrier shut down, and Narti walked forward. I little unstable she squeezed through the opening.

“Narti,” he speaks the moment the barrier returns. “I am glad to see you are safe.” he reached out. His hands touched hers, and she visibly flinched. The plate almost fell between them, Lotor’s eyes surprised. "Oh…” he frowned, “I apologize.” he takes the plate. He watched his general take a step back, keeping her head lowered to the ground. It was enough to make something small in his chest ache.

“Please understand, Narti. I never meant to- I knew Haggar was watching us through the cat, Kova… I aimed for it, not for you. I acted without thinking and almost killed you. I am so sorry.” he lowered his head. Narti’s tail flicked behind her, a tremble in her hands.

In the moment of that strike, her brain had shut off. She had honestly thought Lotor had wished harm on her when he attacked. She had blamed herself, considering the idea that she had done something to deserve such a punishment. She had lost his trust, or no longer had any worth in his eyes.

Lotor and the other generals were all she had in this life.

“Wait…” Shiro’s voice rings clear, “You are the one who did that?” Several emotions crossed his face. Shock, confusion, disgust. He didn’t know which one to focus on. “You almost killed your comrade?” he demanded. It sounded too wrong to even think about. The generals were under Lotor’s command, and they were his crew and closest allies.

Yet he had almost killed one just like that?

“I do not need to explain myself to you, paladin. Only to Narti.” he offered his hand out to her. “Narti.” his voice returned to the soft tone he had before. “Truly, I never meant to harm you. The moment I did I-” he swallowed, quickly regaining the composure in his voice when it cracked. When she had first gotten injured, he could not afford to show any weakness.

He needed to be strong and get his generals to safety. But now, looking at her… watching her tremble yet still stand before him as loyal as always. Well, he felt as small and as weak as a bug.

Suddenly, Narti moved. 

A finger brushed against his own. Her palm slides into his and tightened. With her powers, a voice filtered into his mind. It was the kind of voice that seemed to echo his own, using the inner sound of his mind to speak with him.

However, it was different; soft and beautiful.

“I understand, Lotor.”

“Narti.”

Shiro stood puzzled. Lotor and his general were sharing a moment of silence, but with the way Lotor looked at Narti, he knew they were saying something to each other. “Hey.” he frowned. “Listen, I’m not too comfortable bringing your generals up here if you are planning on harming any of them.”

Lotor turned, frowning at the Black paladin. “I have never intentionally harmed my generals, and the situation happened too fast to avoid with Narti. I will assure their safety any way I can.” his eyes narrowed, “And what a silly thing to say coming from you.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Shiro challenged.

“Well, I can’t say for sure. I don’t know all the details.” Lotor lifted Narti’s hand to examine her nails. Using the tip of his own nail, he brushed some dirt out from under hers. “All I do know is that not all of your paladins seem to be in the best of health.”

He glanced at the black paladin, watching how his thick eyebrows narrowed, his eyes both protective and guarded. He really was a handsome man. Lotor couldn’t get distracted by that. Not with Narti here. If she went back and told the others, he would never hear the end of it from Zethrid and Ezor.

“I won’t fall for any mind games, Lotor,” he warned.

“Who said this was a game? I’m just stating what I’ve witnessed. Let me ask you a question since I’ve answered dozens of yours already; Where were the Red and Blue paladin these last few months? The blue lion had been spotted flying around, but was piloted by Princess Allura. Recently I learned the original paladin was Lance, who had not been seen for a long period of time with the Red paladin. Where had they gone?”

Shiro looked stiff, “That’s classified information.”

“Is it?” he smiled. “Alright then, perhaps I’ll get the answer to that another time. Here is another one. My first encounter with Lance had been quite a heated battle. Now, I may have seen this wrong during such an intense situation, but he seemed rather upset. Upset with his team. And clearly, Voltron has not been formed for nearly a whole year now. I heard when you paladins first arrived you formed Voltron consistently to fight within every battle you faced.”

Shiro folded his arms. “Classified.”

“ Classified,” Lotor repeats. “Then can I assume you can’t form Voltron anymore? Two of your paladins go running off, just to return and look miserable. Lance seems to be having some emotional turmoil, the red paladin; Keith is it? He seems to be going through some physical trial. And the rest of your team are all over the place you don’t have any sense of control anymore. Does that sound about right?”

Shiro grit his teeth. He stepped forward, “Nothing is wrong with my team. We’ll figure it out just like we always do. Lance is fine. And Keith is-” he paused. “Wait, what do you mean? Physical trial?”

Lotor glanced at Narti, who confirmed what he was thinking. “Maybe you haven’t noticed since you see him every day and have gotten used to it- but your paladin has lost a lot of weight recently. His skin looks sickly and his eyes just as bad. You look as though you are fighting side by side with a comrade that will keel over at any moment.”

Shiro was taken aback. Did Keith look that bad and he hadn’t noticed? Or was it just another one of Lotor’s tricks to get into his head?

He couldn’t be sure unless he made sure Keith’s health was going to be okay.

Shiro hesitated, then lifted his head, “I protect my friends.” he growls, metal fist smacking against the side of the barrier. “Finish your food, and then I take Narti back to the others.” with a flex of his arms he stepped back. Lotor happily watched every second. His appreciation only grew from the Black paladin’s choice in clothing.

Such a tight shirt~ He wondered if the other paladins wore the same things.

I never realize you held such an infatuation for the paladins, Prince Lotor.”

His attention snapped to Narti when she spoke into his mind. How had she- he noted their hands were still touching and tugged his hand away, making a sharp snorting noise.

Do not repeat anything you just heard..! ” he commanded her mentally. He grabbed his plate to sit down, Narti joining him. She offered her hand to him again to reply. Lotor frowned but took it. A moment later he grimaced, mentally disagreeing with what she had just said. “ Narti, no. The last thing I will ever need is for you, or any of the other generals for that matter, trying to set me up with anybody! That spells disaster.

Her tail flicked behind her, tiny ears wiggling as she spoke more into his mind.

Yes, I am aware that the paladins are very… nice looking .” he worded it slowly in his mind. Narti continued to push the matter, Lotor cutting it short. “ No. No, we are done with this conversation. Done. ”

He ate his food quietly, glancing at her. He offered her his bread roll, finding it uncomfortable to eat alone. She nibbled on it. Despite being blind because she was born with no eyes, her voice was a different matter. Due to her impoverished upbringing, she had sustained an injury to her vocal cords.

Her only form of communication now is her telekinetic abilities.

When the meal was done, he gave her the plate to walk out. Shiro nodded. “I will return later to ask you more questions.”

“And I will be here, waiting to answer them,” he says. He gave Narti a nod, watching quietly as they disappeared up the elevator.

Chapter Text

A few hours later Lance and Coran had yet to return. This left Pidge and Hunk to check on Keith, seeing as Allura and Shiro were called to another meeting with the coalition. When they entered the door Keith was sitting up in his bed, his hair crazy, but looking a lot better.

“Hey.” Pidge smiles, “How are you feeling?”

“Heavy,” he replies. “But, not as bad as before.”

“We’re glad you finally got some sleep.” Hunk smiles at him. “You worried us.”

“Sorry,” Keith says softly. “I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“Next time, please tell us when you can’t sleep before we go out on missions. What if you had collapsed during a fight?” Pidge says, eyes wide. Keith ducks his head and nods.

“I understand.”

“Plus, you really scared Lance,” Pidge adds softly.

Keith’s head snapped to attention, “I did?”

Hunk is nodding vigorously, “I thought he was going to cry.”

“Honestly, I think he did when we weren’t around.”

Keith’s heart clenched. That was the last thing he ever wanted. How many times was he going to make Lance cry before this was all over? It was all Allura’s fault. For the recent set of tears at least.

They had played by her rules but she kept changing them. It was unfair.

“Where is he now?” he inquired, noticing a very lacking presence or the Blue paladin.

“He went to get some answers. He thought maybe if he could talk to Kolivan or another Galra, maybe we could all figure out what has been causing this fainting spells. We gotta stop it before it gets worse.” Pidge says.

Keith avoided her gaze for a moment. Worse.

It had already gotten to that point. He found himself spitting up blood at least two different times this week. He should have brought it up earlier, he realized only now. However, he was unsure if he should even try to talk about it. Everyone freaked out enough when he simply fainted. If he mentioned how intense the pain was or the coughing….

He decided to leave it in the back of his mind, instead saying, “I hope he gets back soon.”

“In the meantime time, we brought you some food.” Hunk held it up with a smile. “Here you go.” Placing it on Keith’s lap, (a grilled cheese sandwich) he sat on the end of the bed.

“Thanks.” Keith smiles at the two. He loved grilled cheese~

Halfway through his sandwich, he reached under his pillow to let his fingers graze a small journal. He had been writing something very important in this book for the entire month apart from Lance.

He hadn’t let anyone look at it, not even his equivalent. Yet, he felt the urge to bring it out now, in front of these two.

It was a big sense of trust to do this… He admits to being hesitant, but Pidge and Hunk had shown they had begun to change their ways.

He wanted to trust them with this. It was hard keeping it all to himself when all he wanted to do was tell someone about it.

Which was a strange feeling all in itself. Before being trapped on Iespion Keith had never wanted to share his emotions or thoughts with anyone before. He’d rather keep them bottled up inside till his dying day.

Wanting to share this with Pidge and Hunk was a sense of danger he was shocked his heart wanted to face.

“Can I ask you two a favor?” he asked, his voice weak. 

“Sure thing.” they say. “What is it?”

“This.” he cautiously handed the journal for Hunk to look at. Looking skeptical he opened to the first page. Reading it over he took a soft inhale.

“Candle lit dinners, spending time by an ocean? Is this a poem?” he flipped through a few pages, puzzled at what he was looking at.

“Don’t look at the poem.” Keith cringes, “It isn’t good. It was a bad idea.”

“It’s corny with a capital C.” Pidge comments over Hunk’s shoulder,

It wasn’t a story, or even a book entirely of poetry. It was more like random thoughts, ideas, and plans. A journal with everything Keith had been thinking off during this last month.

A few angry speeches to Allura, Shiro, and even to them. The collection of love letters to Lance was uncanny.

All of it was random, but there was a distinct amount of planning within the book, which seemed to be the main point of the pages.

“What is all this?” Hunk motioned to a passage. Dates, possible seasons and even different planets were scribbled down; all to plan some sort of “Perfect day”.

Keith cleared his throat, meeting their eyes with a very serious look. “Lance and I were technically married back on Iespion. We discussed plans for a honeymoon since so many things happened while we were there. I wanted to plan it out since Lance has done so much for me…. I don’t know anything about romance though.”

Pidge voice dropped into nearly a whisper,  “Then all of this… is a honeymoon plan?”

Keith’s ears were burning, “Yes and No.”

“No?” They trailed off.

“By Coeihn standards, we are married… but not by Earth ones. I wanted to take Lance away for a few days.” he reached over, turning to the last page for Hunk and Pidge to read. Written, scribbled out, erased, rewritten pages of ideas were crammed into the back. Each one describing in detail the perfect marriage proposal.

Hunk slowly lowered his hands, a soft look on his face. “You’ve been planning to ask Lance to marry you.”

The warmth that spreads from Keith’s smile is so infectious that Hunk feels himself tearing up.

“Yes.” Keith breathed sweetly, “I want to have a full ceremony. One where all of you are there and Lance’s family, back on Earth. Near the ocean maybe. I know Lance would love that.” he babbles on, flipping to a few more pages to show them his ideas. “Of course I need to go over this with Lance, a-and that is if he says yes of course.” he says nervously.

Pidge had never felt so confident about anything else before, “He’ll say yes.”

Hunk, on the other hand, was trembling, “This is so cute. Keith, you are doing great. Don’t second guess yourself.”

“Correction, second guess it a bit. This is wayyyy too cheesy.” Pidge disagreed, smirking as she pointed to a few ideas.

“Maybe for you, but you gotta think about Lance here. He will love all of this!” Hunk grins. Pidge opens her mouth then nods, shrugging in agreement.

“You have a point.” handing the book back to Keith, Pidge asks. “You know you… never actually explained how Lance and you- fell in love. Back on Iespion.”

“We didn’t?”

“You explained the big parts. The challenge, getting Lance’s eyes healed, the assassination attempts and that jerk Rashra. The Galra attack- but I feel like there is so much more to the story.”

Keith lowered his gaze, his eyes softening. “There is so much more. A lot of good and a lot of bad. Every day seemed to just be a constant up and down journey.” he agreed. “I learned so many differents things while I was there; About Lance, Tellru and Drava. Ruru, Harri, Manson…. And even about myself.”

Hunk and Pidge looked at each other, then leaned against the pillows, getting comfy. They gave Keith expectant looks, ready for a story.

Eyes wide he swallowed. “Oh uh- I’m not the best story teller-”

“Just try.” Pidge insisted. “We want to know.” they offer little smiles which Keith can’t seem to say no to.

“Okay.” he agreed. Crossing his legs together he began, “Well- I suppose it all started back when Lance still had his eye injury. He really relied on me and trusted me with his sight impaired. We were sort of forced to get along to survive, though we still tried to push each other's buttons.” he snorted. “All he could do back then was talk and ask constant questions. I had never seen him so… scared. Even though we didn’t get along, I wanted to keep him safe. I think I had little feelings for Lance a long time ago, I just never bothered to pay attention to them. That all changed when the Coeihns founds us and dragged us back to their Kingdom. And they were so big! I had never seen anyone as tall and menacing as those guards that first found us!”

Hunk and Pidge smile as Keith delved into the unknown tale of the Iespion world.


Lance’s “Man on a mission” idea seemed to have fallen pretty short when he actually arrived at the Blade’s main intelligence unit. Galra were rushing left and right, a never ending train of motion as each were either returning from missions or heading out on them.

Training, missions, reports, training, missions- These guys worked none stop! He wondered if they even slept or ate. It must have been a rare sight- seeing a Blade member just sitting down somewhere.

Doing nothing.

“Excuse me.” he forcefully stopped one member by stepping in front of them.

“Blue paladin.” she speaks, “Is there an issue?”

“I just had an important question to ask.” Lance says. “It’s about Keith, the Red paladin.”

“I apologize. I am in a rush right now and cannot stop to talk. Perhaps you should inquire from Kolivan or even Relo.”

Lance stepped aside to let them pass, sighing. Kolivan was a little too serious for him, so maybe Relo could help him out. He rushed around in desperate search of him, but he seemed to have disappeared completely. Eventually, he got some answers from two Galra on Relo’s location, who had seen him get dragged away.

“Dragged away?” Lance repeated the words. “What do you mean? Is he in trouble?”

They both snort, “He sure is. Whatever he did, he pissed off Krolia, and that is something you should never do.”

Lance felt he heard that name before, perhaps in the last mission, but couldn’t quite recall. “Do you have any idea where she took him? I need to talk to him.”

“She is probably scolding him somewhere below in the next few floors. I would check there.” they suggest.

It had taken him almost an hour, but he had eventually located Relo.

Or atleast his body.

He wasn’t dead, thankgoodness, but he sure got the senses knocked out of him. Lance walked up to find his body sprawled over the floor, groaning in agony.

Like a cartoon, little stars seemed to circle his head, punched unconscous.

“Um…” Lance paled, stepping over him. “Relo…?” He patted his face but got no response. “Who did this?” he got his answer when he senses a presence behind him from the shadows.

“Do you have business with him?” A voice caught him by surprise. He turns, watching a female galra stepping out from the corner where she was leaning against. Perhaps this was Krolia…?

It was strange. She was the kind of person Lance felt he had met before, but knows for a fact that he hasn’t. She just had a familiar face he supposed…

Her eyes were ones he felt he had seen a billion times. He felt trust for her immediately, but that very notion put him on edge. Who was she?

“I needed to ask him a question.” he motioned to Relo

“You’re Lance.” the Galra speaks, eyes narrowed. She stepped closer to examine him.

She knew him, unsurprisingly. He wished he could say the same. “That’s me.” he nods.

She tilts her head, “Not exactly what I expected.” A sort of, quiet judging expression pulled at her lips. He felt annoyance the moment he saw it. Both for the fact that she was judging him and because he has totally seen that expression before too!

“Uh…” he felt awkward. She seems so familiar. “Who are you, exactly?”

“My name is Krolia.” she explained, eyes set and dangerous. “I wanted to have a word with you.”

“Okay.” he says cautiously. “What can I do for you?” It was almost humorous they were having such a conversation with Relo still out cold at their feet.

“It’s about Kei- the red paladin.” she folds her arms. “Your relationship with him.”

The tense feeling he had before worsened. “What about it?” he says, his voice dropping an octave.

“It’s very dangerous for two people so critical to this revolution to be so open about it like you two are.”

“What?” Lance choked out, not expecting this to be the topic they exchanged. How did she even know about them anyway?

“The Galra will use anything they can against you.” she warned, handing him a small screen. Taking it, he read the information recorded across it.

It was some sort of media information site, sourcing a very detailed script of Keith and his relationship. Who had even published this??

“W-Why are you even bringing this up?” he frowned. “And who are you??” she seemed too familiar to him, and he knew the blade… they wouldn’t have bothered going to this lengths just to tell him this. They would have left this problem to Keith and him to figure out on their own.

“I told you-”

He cuts her off, “I know what you said, Krolia. But why was this important enough for you to come to me about?”

Krolia glanced away from a moment. “That really doesn’t matter.”

“It does if you planned to track me down to say it.” he countered. Her lower lip puckered slightly, a glare sent his way as she folded his arms. The gesture wasn’t that surprising, but he had seen it before.

A lot.

Almost every day.

It was the way Keith stood when Lance said something that was both correct but annoyed him.

“You…” he shook his head, “You remind me a lot of someone.”

Her expression changed for a moment and she looked away. “I suppose I would.” she agrees. “Keith has more of my face than his fathers… Though, he does have his eyes and dark black hair.” she smiled, and the moment she did, Lance knew.

“You’re…” he opens his mouth. “Are you Keith’s-?” he cut off, stepping back. The resemblance was uncanny. Honestly, he had a feeling it might have been this way, but it seemed too impossible to be true. Especially because she was revealing herself to him first instead of Keith.

She should be talking to Keith right now… not him.

Her shoulders tensed and she sighs, “Yes. I am his Mother. I came to speak to you because i learned you are his Chosen.”

“B-But… But how?” Lance gawked at her. “When did you get here?” Keith was going to be so happy. He had found his mom! Ever since he had learned of his blood ties he had been quietly searching for any information involving his Galra side.

Kolivan has been a stone wall in the amount of information he offered Keith. The mission was more important and personal matters could be dealt with later. Understanable except for the fact that Kolivan’s life seemed to be a never-ending mission.

She wore the Marmora armor. She was part of Kolivan command! Lance wondered if Kolivan knew this entire time where Keith’s mother was or if he was even unsure who in his ranks was the mother of the half-human red paladin.

He figured if Kolivan was as secretive as he was, the rest of the Blade probably followed in his footsteps about their personal lives.

“You- I can’t believe I’m meeting you,” he says, his breathing coming out in short gasps. “Where have you been this whole time?”

“Undercover,” she says simply. “I learned a year ago of Keith’s position with Voltron, then you both went missing on Iespion.”

Whatever else Lance was going to say, it was suddenly pushed aside.

A year ago…?

Keith and him had only disappeared at Iespion for just a little over half a year. And they had been back for at least a month now. So she had known Keith was the red paladin for at least a couple months before they dissapeared.

Why hadn’t she shown up earlier? Why hadn’t she come to see him, her own son, when he had been searching desperately for her?

Thoughts and questions were taking over his mind. How was he possibly standing here right now with Keith’s own flesh and blood? It felt too shocking to be true.

“Being his mother, it convinced me to come and talk to you. If Keith wasn’t my son I wouldn’t be approaching you right now. But he is. A war has no place for love.” She starts speaking, but Lance can hardly hear her.

“You two could be put in more danger than you know if this information gets to Zarkon. He’ll focus on you two, aim for one of you to strike the very heart of Voltron.”

He shouldn’t be here. She shouldn’t be here!! She should be with Keith! He is in the same galaxy, the same planet, just a few floors away from each other and she is standing here talking to him instead of going to Keith?!

“Krolia…” he swallowed.

“In fact, I think it is best you two separate while you can. At least for the time being. If we can defeat Zarkon, and you two can have a chance to live in peace, that would be the best time for you two to start something. You aren’t Galra, and he isn’t a full one. Keith’s genetics shouldn’t affect-” Whatever she was about to say, however important it might have been, it fell to deaf ears.

“How can you say that?” his voice was cold, piercing through her words like a hot blade. She cut off abruptly, looking shocked.

“What?”

Lance's voice didn’t sound like his own, “You want us to separate?”

She took a moment to answer, “It’s dangerous in your position. Zarkon will look for any angle he can to get to you and the other paladins. Any method necessary to take you down. If he learns about the bond you two share he’ll use it against you-”

How dare you.”

Krolia’s words lost their power when Lance’s expression morphed to pure rage. While his words were quiet they carried within the room, making Krolia tense.

“You knew where Keith was this entire time.” he accused, sickened. “Five whole months before we even disappeared you knew who he was.” Krolia closed her mouth, stepping back when a unknown emotion burned in Lance’s eyes. “All this time and you said nothing. You didn’t even bother to come see him. He had been looking for you and you knew it, didn’t you??”

She swallowed, eyes narrowed. “I’m not here to argue with you-”

“No, you’re just here to tell Keith and I how to live our lives, like everyone else!! You weren’t there for him his entire life. For whatever reason, no matter what they are, you left him! Yet now you think you have some sort of right to tell him what to do? Separate. Abandon your feelings? What kind of mother says that??” he seethed.

Krolia took a deep breath, keeping her voice steady. “This is for your sake. I’m only saying this because I know how Zarkon can be. How he twists the emotions of others and breaks them. I don’t want my son to be hurt.”

“Oh someone give you an award for mother of the year ~!” Lance slow clapped for her, sneering. “Because you leaving definitely didn’t hurt him. Growing up alone definitely didn’t hurt him! Having to learn from strangers that he is half alien and never knew definitely didn’t hurt him either! His life has been nothing but joy and rainbows!” he laughed sarcastically. “And now he is- I don’t even know what is happening to him, but you are trying to tell me to back off?? To leave him?” he lifts his hand, the silver bond ring clear on his ring finger.

Krolia focused on it, her expression saddening. “That’s…”

“My promise to him.” Lance declares, holding his hand up orudly. “I will never leave Keith. I will never stop loving him. I don’t care what I have to go through to make sure he is happy and safe, but turning away from him definitely won’t make things better. It’ll just hurt him more than Zarkon ever could. You would know this if you bothered to get to know your son.”

Whatever else she planned to say was lost in the anger of Lance’s presence. He yelled at her until his voice went hoarse and even after that, he turned and left before she could utter a single reply. He didn’t care what she had to say.

All he wanted her to do was go see Keith. Though, at this point, he had no idea if that was even a good idea. It was complicated and right now, the only thing he was going to do was go hug his equivalent and never let him go.

As Lance took the stairs two steps at a time, he sighed. He realized he hadn’t gotten even the slightest bit of the information he seeked coming down here. Instead he was returning with something much worse.

Not even sure what he was going to say he braced himself when he entered Keith’s room. He had hoped Keith was still sleeping, but instead, he found Pidge and Hunk instead. They were huddled together, staring at Keith with teary eyes.

He was speaking, recalling something from the past. “Then we started to talk about the 5 most important things to us. I’m always bad at saying straight out how I feel, so talking about it like it was a list made it a lot easier for me.”

“And what was your number one?” Hunk whispered, like an awe struck child

Keith didn’t even hesitate. “Lance is always my number one.”  

Lance rushed in after that. It took him a moment to understand what exactly Keith was telling them, but once he did he felt his embarrassment growing. “What exactly are you telling them??” he flushed.

Keith jumped, then smiled. “Welcome back.”

“Keith was just retelling your love story.” Pidge seemed to be wiping a tear from her cheek. “It’s actually quite touching… in a mushy sort of way.”

“It’s so sweet.” Hunk gushed. “What about you Lance? Keith was just talking about when you were telling each other the top 5 most important things to you two. Keith said you were his number one? What was yours?”

Lance swallowed. “Well…” he cleared his throat, Hunk eager gaze making him stammer. “I told Keith what it was.”

“Yeah but now we want to know.” Pidge pushed up her glasses.

“Well maybe my number one is only meant to be heard by Keith.” Lance countered.

“Then you’re saying the only one who can know number one is number one himself?” she asked.

“Exactly.” he paused, realizing his mistake too soon, and falling right into Pidge’s trap.

“Then your number one is Keith~!” Hunk cackled, clapping with joy.

Lance let out a roar, charging at the two. They scrambled away, giggling like trolls. “Out! Out! Out!” Lance commanded, nudging the two other paladins out of the room. “Keith needs his sleep!”

Slamming the door shut he huffed. Whiping around he points at Keith. “You.”

He smiles, naive. “What?”

Whatever lance was going to say it left him, knowing Keith was just happy to talk about Iespion with the others. “You feeling better.”

“Yeah, actually. Especially with you here.” he made grabby hands at Lance, tugging him onto the bed. “What were you doing?”

He let his head rest against Keith’s chest. His worries seemed to leave his body for a moment, soothed by the gentle beat in the red paladin’s chest. “Trying to get some answers. Maybe ask the Blade if your condition is a Galra thing or not.”

The red paladin brushed Lance’s bangs out of his face. “Find anything out.”

“Not exactly.” Lance sighed. “I got answers, but not the ones I was looking for.”

Keith eyed him curiously, “You seem upset.”

“It’s nothing.” He mindlessly reached over to the bedside table. Finding a brush he lifted it up. “Can I brush your hair before bed?” It was the only excuse he could think off.

His equivalent frowned, “Why would we brush our hair before bed? Doesn’t that just defeat the purpose?”

“But it gives me a reason to mess with your hair~” Lance cooed.

Keith snorts, “Okay, fine. Why not. Go ahead and mess with it.”

I’m making it nice.” Lance corrected. Adjusting positions, Keith settled in his lap. With a gentle touch, he ran the brush down the curls of black hair, straightening the messy clumped up pieces from his nap earlier.

Keith’s hair was still soft and sweet smelling from the shower earlier. Lance leaned forward to kiss the back of his head. Keith’s mullet had really grown out in the last few months. It’s wasn’t so much of a mullet anymore since his bangs were almost just as long.

Krolia… has a similar hair style to her son. Another thing they shared in common and Keith didn’t have a clue. He didn’t know how much he looked like his mother. How similar their eyes were, the way they stand. How they carry themselves in a conversation.

They were mother and son and all you had to do was look to know.

Keith’s mother was here. Just a short walk away and Keith didn’t even know it.

“Keith…” Lance’s voice felt heavy, choked with the weight of knowledge he carried. He tried to focus on brushing Keith’s hair, but it was too hard to ignore the crucial facts.

“Are you okay?” Keith asked, noticing his hesitation.

“I…” he swallows. “Something happened today,” he admits.

Keith reaches around to touch his hand, “Something bad?”

“I don’t know,” he admits weakly. “Something I didn’t think would happen. I kind of snapped actually…”

Keith’s eyes were wide with shock. “What happened?”

Lance sighs, leaning down to wrap his arms around Keith’s shoulders, kissing his head. It was so hard to talk about it, knowing it would just be another thing for Keith to worry about. “Can I tell you tomorrow?” he asked desperately. “Wrap my thoughts around it first?”

Keith’s hands were warm on his arms. “Of course you can.”

“Thanks.” he smiled. “Let’s get you to bed.”

“You gonna stay with me? I can’t sleep if you aren’t here.” Keith reminded him.

“I’m not going anywhere.” And he never will.


 

Coran was startling to realize very quickly the Galra were the most helpful and unhelpful allies they had ever had. During a battle, the Blade's were the best fighters he had ever seen!

In a conversation, not so much. None of them gave him a straight answer or just downright refused to speak with him. Whether they were busy or not didn’t matter, he just had a few questions! They were important too!

Plus, Kolivan seems to be gone so he couldn’t go ask him.

He felt like he was out of luck! He had originally split up with Lance to cover more ground, but now he had no idea where the paladin had run off too.

“Drats.” he sighs, hands on his hips.

“Excuse me?” a voice speaks up, “Do you need any help?”

Coran about jumped out of his socks, striking a defensive form and looking around. “Who goes there??”

“Over here.”

Coran turned, seeing no one.

“Look down.”

 “Oh.” Coran paused, his eyes traveling down. A galra was before him, large pointed ears up and attentive.

“Hello.” the Galra greets. He was seated in a wheelchair, a blanket laid over his legs. The Galra offered him a smile, gripping the handles of his wheelchair. “Is there something you need help with?” He asked.

“Why yes, I do,” Coran says, curling the tip of his mustache. Was this his chance? “I’m after information.” he expected to be turned down like every time before, but this Galra simply smiled.

“Oh well, that I can definitely help you with.” The galra chuckled, “So long as it is information I am allowed to give. I’m afraid any top secret info on missions and other things aren’t allowed to be discussed so openly.”

“Oh, that is alright.” Coran laughed. “What I seek is a little different. More of- personal.”

The ears of the Galra flattened slightly. “If it’s about my wheelchair that is a story I’m very tired of telling. And it is a very painful story to remember...”

“Oh no no, not that. I didn’t mean to upset you. It is actually about Galra genetics, if that makes sense.” Coran moved to sit beside the Galra. “In truth, me asking might not actually help.”

Curious the Galra tilted his head, “How about we start about what brought on your question and go from there?” He offers his hand to shake Coran’s. His blue eyes, a very unusual trait for a Galra to have, shined softly. “Nice to meet you.”

“Oh, yes. Nice to meet you. My name is Coran.” he smiled

“Hello, Coran. My name is Zaheen.”

“Zaheen.” Coran smiles. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you around here. And here I thought I knew everyone in the coalition.” he frowned at himself

“Oh, I’m usually down in the lower levels. Not a mission person…” Zaheen’s says softly. “You though, I have seen you around. You usually accompany the paladins.”

“I do indeed! I pilot the Castle in which their mighty lions rest!” he says proudly.

Zaheen’s eyes shine, “Whoa. I used to want to be a pilot myself when I was younger. That ship is so massive, you must be very skilled.”

“Oh.” Coran felt charmed, batting his hand. “It is nothing.”

Zaheen chuckled. “Well, I’m happy to help someone so important to the coalition. What can I do for you? What was your question?”

“Yes! Right, the question. You see I have a friend-” He pauses. Not wanting it spreading around that their own red paladin was under in bad health, he attempted to be subtle. “He is half Galra. Recently he seems to have fallen- under the weather. He collapsed for reasons we aren't sure about. He cannot sleep, struggles to eat.”

“I see.” Zaheen nods. “Are you sure it isn’t just a common sickness?”

“I thought perhaps it was that at first too.” Coran sighed. “But it doesn’t seem to be the case.”

The small Galra nods, “Well- Galra have a few diseases some other aliens species don’t have. And since he is only half Galra there are endless possibilities to what it is. A disease from his galra side, or the other. Or even a mix. I’m afraid I am no doctor.” Zaheen apologizes, “I only help send out supplies. It’s the only thing I can do…” he shrugs.

“I see.” Coran sighs. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.”

“It’s alright. You are just concerned with your friend.” Zaheen’s smile was soft and kind. They sat in silence for a moment. Slowly the blue-eyed galra leaned forward, asking, “Well, I suppose the only other thing I can think of is whether they have a Chosen or not.”

“A Chosen?” Coran inquired. “Oh- you mean a mate, yes? He does have one.”

“Are they close?”

“Very.” he nods

“I mean, have they been physically close lately? Within contact with each other. Has one gone away from a while?”

Coran was puzzled by these questions. Lance and Keith weren't exactly away from each other, but there was definitely a forced distance between them from the last month. “They see each other… but, they haven’t been as close as they have been the last few months I suppose. Things have come up between them.” he cringed a little.

“Well, perhaps that is the problem then. Though, it’s hard to say if a bond would even affect someone who is only half Galra.” Zaheen says

Before Coran can even ask Zaheen to elaborate on what he had just said a new voice cut in.

It is affecting him .”

They both turn, eyes wide. Relo, the Galra who had aided Keith and Lance on Iespion, stood before them, looking a little beaten up and tired.

“Relo,” Coran says, mainly knowing the Galra to be Kolivan’s right-hand man. “What in the world happened to you, my boy?”

“Long story… Krolia beat me up.” He huffed, stumbling over. “Hey Zaheen.” he greets

“Ah, she is someone you definitely don’t want to get mad.” Zaheen winced, waving to Relo.  

“Yes. I tried to tell her about what was going on with Keith as well but she wasn’t listening.” he sighed, plopping down with Coran.

“With Keith? What is happening to him??” Coran demanded, worried. So much for trying to keep things subtle with Zaheen, but he had bigger things to worry about.

Relo looked at him, his eyes troubled. “It’s the bond he has with Lance,” he explains simply. “It’s killing him.”

“Killing…” Coran trailed off, his face pailing. “What on earth do you mean?”

“I guess Alteans don’t really have this kind of thing.” he shrugged. “Many differences species have a name for it, and some go a bit further than others. I learned the Coeihns have a similar thing within their society while I was there. They called it their Equivalency bond. Have you ever heard of it, Coran?”

“Equivalency… that is their term for a partner. Their mate and love.”

“That is it, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the Equivalency bond.” The confusion on Coran’s face was enough to answer Relo’s question without words. “It is basically a connection that happens between the two. It connects them at a cellular level. For a Coeihn, they are able to sense each other. They know when the other is hurt and sometimes can even share their feelings and senses with each other over a long distance. Galra have something similar. Our Chosen.” he smiles. “Though, we aren’t as strong as the Coeihn bond. We can’t share senses and such, but the concept is the same… including the price”

“What price?’ Coran asked

Zaheen cut in, explaining what he was going to tell Coran before Relo arrived, “The price is that the two equivalents cannot be separated for too long. If they do they will begin to feel pain.”

“Pain?!” Coran says, shocked

Relo nods, “It will start small, like an ache. Then grow. Bigger and bigger. You can’t eat, sleep- you feel distressed after some time. Paranoid and even depressed. After a while, it will get worse. Your own body will begin to shut down. If you stay apart from your partner, or as we call it, our Chosen, for too long-”

“You’ll die,” Zaheen concluded Relo’s explanation

Coran felt like everything was crashing down around him. He didn’t need any confirmation to know this must have been what Keith was going through. “Then Keith-”

“I saw it for myself. He was in pain. I even saw-” Relo pauses. “He had been coughing up blood. I can only assume that he must have been separated from Lance for several days to weeks. Usually, a Galra can go a few months without seeing their Chosen before they are threatened by death. But those two are very new to this bond. They haven’t had proper time to adjust slowly to this change. Being inseparable for months just to be pulled apart so suddenly rushed these symptoms.”

“We almost killed him…” Coran whispered in horror

Relo slowly nodded, knowing there was not point in sugar coating it. “It is important they spend as much time as they can together for the next few days to ensure there are no other issues. Then they must slowly begin to spend time apart to lengthen the time Keith can withstand being away from Lance.” he instructs, stressing how important this was to Coran.

Coran was nodding obediently, making sure to memorize every detail Relo said.

“Thank you.” he got to his feet, his legs wobbly. “Thank you both so much! I have to go!” he stumbled towards the stairs, knowing he needed to tell Allura about this as soon as possible.

When he finally found her she was within her room, pacing the floor and seething with rage. “Princess..!”

“Coran! There you are!” she snaps the moment she sees him. “Where have you been? The paladins are all going mad!” He paused when she kicked over her chair. “First Pidge, then Hunk… do they not see what tragedy this could bring?” she says.

Coran swallowed, still catching his breath. “Did something happen…?”

“Hunk and Pidge approached me about Lance and Keith. Both were demanding I nullify the rule of relationships within the paladin code. As if I could just take away one of the key laws made by the paladin’s of old!”

“Allura…” Coran sighs.

“It shouldn’t be that big of a deal for them to move on from each other,” Allura insists brokenly, typing her nails angrily against her dresser. “If they could just understand… It could be such an easy fix.”

Coran stares at her, slowly closing his eyes to inhale deeply. The information he had was going to change everything, and he wondered if Allura would be able to handle it. “If I may Princess, you are wrong.”

“What?” she sniffs

Approaching her, he clears his throat. He needed her to understand calmly and rationally. “A few days ago, I inquired some questions to Pidge of humans and their partners, and most can have up to a few in their lifetime. Some can be together with others for a short time, then split off for someone else,” he explains. “Humans can choose to mate for life or have a second partner. Nothing binds them to another human other than law, and even that can be changed.”

“So there should be no issue!” Allura smiles.

“There is a very large issue.” he shakes his head.

“I’m struggling to see what your point is here then, Coran. Just as I said, they should have no problem separating.”

“Perhaps, but love is not so simple. Pidge also told me that just because they can have multiple partners through their life does not mean that every human wants to. Humans can be with each other for their whole life. Love is not something one can simply push aside just by someone’s request.”

“They don’t love each other,” Allura turns, “As Shiro said, it was from them being isolated together. They convinced themselves with this illusion of companionship.”

Coran is almost amazed at how stubborn she is at this and grabs her wrist to stop her from walking away, “I do not want to overstep myself, but Shiro is not always correct, Allura. Surely you’ve noticed that these emotions are not from them being stranded. If that was the case they would have no problem with turning away from each other, but clearly, they are. Also, I’ve discovered something… very important. I did research with the Blade of Marmora.”

“Research?” she questions.

“On Galra. I even talked to two of them to confirm these answers. Did you know Galra only ever have one mate in their life? They are like the Coeihns. I’m sure you heard Keith and Lance mentioning Equivalents.”

Curious, she turns to face him, listening quietly. “I recall that, yes.”

“They grow very protective of their mate or anything that involves them, feeling separation anxiety when they are away from their mate for too long. They struggle to sleep, eat. They even feel pain…” he trails off.

“No.” Allura shakes her head, already understanding what point he was trying to state, “Keith is only half Galra.”

“He may look human, but we’ve seen the way he fights- it’s more Galra than human. There are many other things about him that could be more Galra than human, Allura.”

She steps away, frowning, “Why are you telling me this?” she says quietly.

“The Blade member, Relo, told me that if a Galra is separated from their mate for too long- there could be serious problems. Death could even occur if they are separated for too long.”

“Death??” she gawked at him. “How is that even possible?”

“It’s the bond they form. It’s at a cellular level Relo told me. It connects them but can also kill the Galra. We almost killed him, Allura…”

“That can’t be…” she looked away, covering her mouth. “That can’t be true!”

“It’s up to you to decide, Princess. But it is important for you to know every detail as a leader before simply stating a command. These Paladins we have were not trained as warriors, and are still very young…” when he turns to leave, he pauses at the door, “Perhaps if you wish for them to understand how you feel, or how vital you believe this rule to be, you should explain to them why it was created in the first place?

Allura turns away, seeming unable to do that. “I can’t….”

Coran’s voice cracks, “Allura.”

She starts towards the door, eyes narrowed. “Excuse me, Coran. There is something I wish to discuss with Shiro.”

He couldn’t seem to stop her and sighed, left alone and hoping everything would work out.

A little while later, Allura knocked on Shiro’s door. When he opened it, she stepped inside.

“Shiro, there is something I must discuss with you,” Allura tells him. “It is about Keith,”

Shiro raises a curious eyebrow, “Okay?”

Chapter Text

Upon waking, Lance burrowed himself into the warm, soft sheets. His body turned onto his back, stretching languidly. With a deep inhale he rubbed the remainders of sleep from his eyes. He supposed you could say he slept well.

He slept yet did not feel rested. His mind was troubled, still tortured by what he had learned recently. Ignorance is bliss, he decided.

He could be enjoying his time with Keith right now if it wasn’t for his lover’s mother that had recently come into existence in his life.

Just the thought of her seems to stir a headache and he reaches up to run his hand down his face, covering his eyes in hopes the pain would go away.

Slowly and reluctantly, he uncovers his face, staring dully at their ceiling. He blinks, closes his eyes, and blinks again. The luminescent lights along the floors are the only light source available to him at the moment. He eyes them idly then turns his head the other way. 

He nearly jumps out of his skin when bright purple eyes flicker at him in return

"Keith." he exhales, "How long have you been up?"

"A few minutes. You move around a lot when you first wake up." he notes. 

Lance huffed, "And you apparently like to watch people sleep like a creeper." 

Keith smiles, a twinkle in his eyes that Lance feels drawn to. “Guess so. Morning.”

Lance’s heart swelled, “Morning, sweetheart.”

It was a feeling he had almost forgotten, waking up with Keith beside him instead of alone. It made him feel whole and loved.

“Sleep well?” Keith’s finger traced his jawline, caressing his earlobe.

“Well enough.” Lance grins, scooting closer to give his love a kiss. “What about you?”

“Best I’ve slept in a long time.”

Lance was thrilled to hear that. He rolled on top of Keith, peppering his face with kisses till Keith started to giggle and shove him off. When they finally managed to get out of bed, they stumbled around the room, drunk off of each other. It felt like that first morning they woke up after becoming equivalents.

Part of them both wondered if this burning passion they held for the other would last forever. Eventually, that fire tended to simmer as couples got older, didn’t it? It would become their daily lives, giving a sense of normality.

It wouldn’t be a bad thing if that did happen. To be together for so long that it was just natural to have the other beside you. That sounded like a dream come true.

For now, they would enjoy this love high they seemed to be experiencing, happy just to see the other.

It took around an hour to get dressed because they just couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.

“Keith~!” Lance cackled when nimble fingers danced over his hips. He had just put his shirt over his head when Keith decided to join him, horribly stretching his shirt as he slipped his head underneath it. 

“Toasty.” Keith mumbled against his bare chest, his voice muffled from the fabric. At this point, they looked like some being with four legs and a very large belly.

“Keith! We gotta get ready~” Lance was tempted to take a picture

“I’m dressed and ready to go.” Keith smiles.

“Get your own shirt!” Lance cackled.

“But you’re so warm~!” Keith challenged, wrapping his arms around the Cuban male's torso

Lance shrieked, “Augh! Your hands are cold!”

“Because you’re warm!”

“Keeith~!” he whined, smiling. “Come on, we're gonna end up being late.”

“Or we could just not show up.” Keith offered, forcing his head through the head hole to come nose to nose with his equivalent. Lance gave an unhappy frown.

“You are ruining my shirt. We can’t show up like this.”

“Let’s ditch the meeting. Go somewhere.” Keith pouted, full lower lip out and eyes wide. Such a look could strike down even the coldest of hearts and Lance could feel his knees buckle.

“No.” he musters his strength, “We have to go to that meeting.”

Keith’s shoulders slouched and he sighed, “Fine~ Fine…” sliding out of the shirt he waddled off.

Lance shook his head, watching Keith make his way to his closet. "And dress nice." he reminds his love looking back at the mirror himself. Lance wondered if his parents would be able to recognize him. His skin had gotten a tad darker during his time in Iespion, his hair longer and his body more well toned. 

Adjusting his hair, he took a good, long look at himself in the mirror. Lifting his fingers to his face he traced the scars around his eyes.

Sometimes he woke up terrified, thinking he had lost his sight once again. This time for good. The fear faded after a few minutes but it was always there.

As he stood there, he realized losing his sight wouldn’t be the most horrible thing to happen. There were worse outcomes in this war. He could lose Keith, or anyone on the team. Too many unknowns could happen.

After all, he still hadn’t figured out what had happened to Keith’s health.

Or the big beeping red light in the back of his mind; how was he going to tell Keith about his Mother.

He knew the longer he held this off the worse it could get, so really, he should just come out and say it! Rip it off like a band-aid.

Yet how could he?  How could he look at the man he loved and tell him that he met the woman that left him? That she was just a few floors away and had been able to see Keith this whole time, but choose not to?

Or worst of all, her first parental advice was for them to separate; which is something Keith is already on edge about with everyone else, so not a good thing to bring up first thing.

It was just so frustrating!

Surely she had a reason. Lance could only assume since she was part of the Blade of Marmora that she had a reason to why she left Keith when he was so young. She wouldn't have even revealed herself to him in the first place if she didn't care about Keith after all. At least, that was his hope. 

“Ugh.” the blue paladin rubbed his temple when a headache came his way.

“You okay?” Keith asked, tossing on a shirt

“Yeah…” he lied, “Just got a lot on my mind.”

“Same.” Keith’s hand slid into Lance’s, “That’s why we got each other.”

Lance felt himself smile, tugging Keith closer to kiss him. “You always know exactly what to say.” Their mouths entangled together again, the beeping on the clock convincing them to pull away.

“The meeting.” Lance reminded them.

“Dumb meeting.” Keith cursed, “At least we can get breakfast first~”

How they managed to actually focus for 5 minutes, get ready, and walk into the dining room, they would never know. But it didn’t matter, cause they got to hold hands the entire way.

“Time for breakfast~!” Lance says, walking into the kitchen, surprised they were the first ones there.

Keith frowned at the Goo dispenser. “Not really in the mood…”

“You gotta eat, cariño,” Lance tells Keith, running a hand over his face to note how much smaller Keith seemed to be. Not by much, but it was definitely starting to get there.

Keith blinks, feeling like his appetite was returning thanks to Lance being there. Taking his hand from across the table, Keith smiles. “Okay,”

“I’ll even make you something.” Lance rises to his feet. “Something that isn’t goo. Or just goo with a fun twist.” He giggles.

“With a twist?” Keith asked

“Yeah, I’ll form it into shapes.” the blue paladin slides over to the dispenser, grabbing a plate. “That or I can make some eggs if we have some in the fridge.” he went to check.

“I didn’t know you knew how to cook, Lance.” Hunk appeared from the hall, rubbing his eyes.

“I learned a bit on Iespion.” Lance says proudly, grinning to find some eggs within the fridge. “Yes~” he cheered, pulling out a pan to set on the oven.

Hunk tossed on his apron to help. “Do you know how to make an omelet?”

“No. Teach me, great master.” Lance bowed his head, deepening his voice. Slapping his palms together Hunk bowed back.

“Teach you I shall, young pupil.”

Pidge snorted when she entered the room to see such a scene. “You weirdos making breakfast or making a ninja movie?”

“Breakfast, and for that comment, you get none.” Lance jabbed a finger at her.

“Aww.” she pouts.

Keith offered a moment later, “You can have some of mine.”

“Yes!” she perked up, happy once again.

Lance huffed, “Sweetheart no, I just told her she can’t~”

“But I said she could.” he giggled in return.

Their two friends laughed, happy to see Keith in better spirits. As they cooked, they talked about Iespion again. Strangely enough, Hunk and Pidge were eager to learn the rest of the story of their time there.

“So Tellru and Dravla were able to tell pretty quickly that you two were perfect for each other,” Pidge says. It almost saddened her how easily complete strangers noticed their honest feelings for each other, yet they couldn’t; people who had known them far longer.  

“Yeah, they both had a way of noticing those sort of things.” Lance chuckled.

“Dravla and Tellru already had their lives pretty figured out when we got there though, so maybe that is why. It’s easy to spot love when you already know it so well.” Keith’s eyes softened, thinking of the two. “I had never seen two more suited for each other.”

“I dunno. I think you two are perfect for each other,” Hunk tells him suddenly. It was so out of the blue that the two thought they heard him wrong.

“Y-You… Think so?” they stammer, embarrassed.

“Yeah.” Hunk smiles. “Sorry I couldn’t see it before but, I mean it right now. You two make each other happy, and if you are happy, so am I.”

Lance felt this wave of relief, like a heavy burden had been lifted off his shoulders, “Hunk.” he says softly. “Thank you.”

He grins, but it fades, “Just wish the others could see it too so you two don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

“Shiro is just-” Pidge sighs, “... He’s the leader and all, you know? You usually assume your leader is always right but… I don’t think Shiro was in this case. I see that now. So- I’m really sorry, Lance, Keith. I shouldn’t have agreed to this separation thing.” Pidge bowed her head.

“Me too. And I know Shiro will see it one day too. Just give him some time.” Hunk adds in

Keith looked away, nodding meekly. Quietly he says, “Thank you Pidge, Hunk. That means a lot.”

She reaches over to pat his shoulder, “I’m sure the others will see that soon. Shiro just doesn’t want you two to get hurt. He doesn’t realize that he’s doing that right now. He thinks he’s helping you two- either to realize you don’t have feelings for each other or you do.”

Lance doesn’t say much, but nods every once in a while. “I know. Even despite this all, it wasn’t him that upset me. It was more of Allura’s reasoning. A rule that has nothing to do with us, set by a society we never even got to see. It just- I had too many bad experiences with that.”

“From Iespion?” his two friends ask.

Keith’s nostrils practically flared with smoke. “It was so hard to put up with their laws. They were so different, and we just had to accept them when new ones would pop up!”

“All those challenges.” Lance groaned.

“It was so frustrating. The blood challenge.” by impulse his hand reached out for the blue paladin’s, holding it tight.

Lance squeezed his hand back, “In a way I understood.” he says quietly, thinking it over. “I mean, if you grow up being told one thing, it’s gonna stick. To the Coeihns, you had to earn citizenship to be one of them. Pure’s were valued and fought over because their entire society was based on challenges to keep peace outside of the ring. To them, it was normal. It was an honor. I’m sure if I was a Coeihn, it would have no burden on my mind to fight in that arena for you, Keith. I would have been proud to do it. And- I was proud, in a way. It was just terrified that first time around because I couldn’t see or understand a thing.”

Keith gives him a gentle look, “I wasn’t allowed to participate in any challenge or fight because I wasn’t considered a citizen. It was painful to watch you having to bare everything on your own.”

“Would you go back?” Hunk asked them. “To Iespion?”

The two don’t even take a second to think it over before they smile and nod, “Of course!”

To see Ruru, Dravla, Manson Tellru and Harri again would be the best thing they could hope for. They would gladly go back to see the precious friends they had made on the way.

“Iespion was hard, and a lot of bad happened. But a lot of good happened too.” Lance says.

“I hope Ruru is doing well.” Keith smiled at his food. “I miss her.”

“Me too.” Lance rubbed his chin. “We should go back sometime.”

“Yeah.” Keith trailed off. When he speaks up, his voice is soft, “Thinking of Iespion gets me thinking of this whole Paladin’s code thing.” he admits, “It’s weird but, despite it all, I don’t hate Allura for trying to separate us.”

“What??” The room was shocked. “How could you not?”

“I-I don’t get it myself.” he admits, “I know this might sound weird, and I am angry with her… but… I dunno. It’s hard to explain. She’s done some things lately, like with that Yalview Prince guy…” he closed his eyes at the thought, grateful when Lance wrapped his arm around him.

“I want her to apologize for those.” Keith continues, eyes narrowed, “Because what she did then was outrageous. But I’m not upset with Allura about the code. Because I understand her society and her people’s law are important to her. To toss them aside would be to toss aside her people’s way of life. It’s the only thing she has left of them besides this castle and Coran. Of course, she would cling to them.”

The others listened to him quietly, amazed. “I thought you said the paladin code was dumb?” Hunk mumbled.

“It is.” Keith nodded, “To me, anyway. To her, the code is probably sacred.” Keith picked at his food. “She shouldn’t expect us to follow the code because we aren’t alteans, but we are paladins. The paladin code is for paladin’s after all. And I assume these rules were made by her Father and the paladins of old. It makes sense she would bring them up eventually.” he pauses, “I guess I’m not sure how to feel about it. I don’t hate her, but I also want to punt her into space.”

“You understand and also think it is dumb….” Pidge concluded.

Keith pointed to her, “Exactly.” he was surprised when Lance wrapped his arm around him, tugging him closer. Smiling, he rested his head against the blue paladin’s shoulder, curious at the look Lance was giving him. “What?”

“You are just amazing…” he whispered.

Keith bit his lower lip, smiling, “You think?”

“Yes. You are also too forgiving.” the blue paladin says, rubbing his thumb over Keith’s knuckles. “Every time I look at her I want to punch her in the face…”

“I didn’t say I don’t want to do the same.” Keith chuckled. “I guess I just wanted to see things from her shoes for once? I can’t just keep getting angry at everything forever.”

“If only she would do the same.” Lance mumbled sourly. Keith leaned against him, kissing his forehead.

“Yeah.”

Finishing their breakfast, a silence fell in the air when Allura wandered in. She gave them all quiet looks, grabbing herself a drink. She didn’t speak immediately, staring at her cup as if she wished to say something.

It had to be a world record, five minutes in and she still hadn’t said a word for Lance to remove his hand from Keith’s hip. Wondering if she just hadn't noticed they held their breath when she looked their way.

“I trust you all slept well.” she says, nearly casually. It caught them off guard.

“Oh uh…” Hunk glanced around in a panic then nods, “Yup. Like a log.” The others shared a few looks.

“A log?” she asks, “What is that?”

“Oh, it’s… a tree. A fallen over tree. It-” instead of trying to explain he says instead, “It’s an earth simile. I slept great. I think we all did.” The rest of the room nods.  

Allura nodded slowly. “Oh. I see...Good.” She said finally after a pause. “Good. We have the meeting with the coalition in a short time. I expect you all to be there… be ready.” She said before putting her cup away once she finished it.

And just like that, she left, shoulders stiff as the door shut behind her.

There was silence for a few ticks.

“Well, that was awkward,” Keith mumbled, making Pidge snort.

“No kidding! I was for sure thinking she was gonna yell at you two again.” She said, nudging Lance.

“Yeah. I think my heart stopped for a bit.” Lance said with a chuckle. Hunk scratched the back of his neck.

“You think we're getting through to her?” He asked, looking over at the current pair of paladins that were holding each other.

“I sure hope so.” Pidge said, letting out a breath.


 

Zaheen leaned into the back of his chair with a dull sigh. It was cold today. The cold always made the joints by his legs feel like they were on fire. Old wounds still crying out years later…

He tried to focus on his work, scheduling shipments and setting routes for the supplies to be taken. It wasn’t the most exciting job, but he took it seriously all the same. At this point it was all he could do with his capabilities.

With everyone fighting and strengthening the alliance, someone had to make sure food and ammunition got across the galaxy to the vastly expanding union. This was the least he could do…

“Zaheen.” A familiar voice spoke from behind him, “I see you’ve been transferred to supply retail.”

Looking over his shoulder a familiar Galra approached his table. “Krolia!” he greeted, wheeling his chair closer to her. It was always so nice to see her. “It’s been a while. I hope you didn’t receive any injuries on your last mission.”

“I am fine.” she spoke solemnly, “My missions have been more undercover based as of late.”

“Yet you have returned?” Zaheen questioned.

“There is a reason for that. Something crucial came to my attention recently. What about you?” she looked away. She quickly changed topics, which Zaheen realized immediately and was curious to the reason, “Last time we met you were still at headquarters. What made you switch your posts?”

“I wasn’t doing anything at headquarters. Helping to run training sequences or encrypt messages was getting tedious.” he turns his chair, lifting his tablet screen to his face to go over a few supply routes. “So now I’m here, helping to send supplies for the coalition.”

“Seems like a downgrade to me,” Krolia says

“I get to see more than just secretive Blade members, unable to leave headquarters for weeks at a time.” Zaheen chuckles, “So far I’ve been able to see 4 different planets, just in the span of a month. This is a lot better.”

Krolia leaned against the table, smiling at the younger Galra. “It’s good to see you in high spirits.” she recalled something, “Oh, yes. There is a shipment request from sector 2.”

A transfer of data crossed over Zaheen’s tablet screen. He clicked it, scanning over the requested materials before nodding. “Understood, I’ll get the supply crews to head there right away. Thanks, Krolia.”

“Thank you for handling it.” she offered back.

Zaheen always liked talking to Krolia. She was strict but kind. She never looked at his wheelchair like some weakness, knowing Zaheen had more strength than he let on. Yet she never pushed him to use it.

Watching Krolia, he noticed how she hovered. It seemed as if she was avoiding something, purposely wasting time to prevent her from returning to the Blade for further instructions.

“Do you have a day off?” Zaheen wondered. Which is something the blade nearly never had.

“No. There is a meeting later today. Many of the coalition, Blade, and Voltron members will be there to discuss our next steps in this war.” she says, her voice sounding far away.

“Sounds like an important event.” he raises his eyebrow, “Don’t you wish to attend it?”

“My presence wouldn’t affect the outcome.”

So she was avoiding something, Zaheen had realized. Yet what exactly?

“You seem off.” Zaheen tells her.

She messed with a few spare parts scattered across the desk, “Do I?”

“Is everything alright?” Normally Zaheen would never ask a Blade member this question because he knew he would never get an answer out of them. Krolia was different. She talked with him, confided in him, and he could do the same with her.

He had come to the Blade at a young age, alone and afraid. No one wanted to look after a teenage boy who had no use of his legs half of the time… Krolia was different. She took care of him, practically raised him from the first day he arrived. He trusted her with everything.

She had been a mother figure to him after losing his own parents to Zarkon’s blood-lusting outbursts…

Out of everyone in the universe, he would turn to her alone when something troubled him. So to see her looking anxious and nearly afraid, it worried him.

“Krolia…” he insists quietly.

Her eyes hardened, flipping the wrench in her hand and catching it. “It is an issue I should face myself.”

Zaheen won her over with a smile, “And you will. There is nothing wrong with talking about it though.”

Her lips tugged slightly. Zaheen’s presence was infectious. Her harsh expressions seemed to melt away into something gentler around him. “You can’t speak of this to anyone.”

“My lips are sealed. The Marmora is good at that, after all.” he teased, nearly striking a laugh from her. Yet the topic on her mind seemed to weigh heavily on her, choking down whatever chuckle she so desperately wanted to let free.

“I spoke to you once.” she begins. “Of the son I left behind to protect from this war, hoping to end it before it could ever reach him…?”

“Yes.” Zaheen felt the blood drain from his face. Had something happened to her child?

“It seems that in the end, my son followed me anyway.” she looked up towards the roof. “All the way from Earth, a primitive planet that hasn’t achieved space travel. He came from there and is now the pilot of the Red lion.”

Zaheen blinked once, then twice. “What??” he gasped. “You mean he is Keith, the red paladin??”

Krolia covered his mouth to silence him, “Yes, now keep your voice down.” she spoke in a harsh whisper. “I hadn’t realized at first, that is until nearly a year ago when he came to headquarters to request the Blade alliance against Zarkon. He had awakened the blade I left him. Kolivan had sent me the details, recognizing the blade he held as mine. I was deep undercover at the time and couldn’t act until it was safe...” Though by that time, her son along with the Blue Paladin abruptly disappeared for seven months.  

The smaller Galra nodded, “This is great, isn’t it? You can see your son again! You should go to him.”

Krolia sighed, “I- I don’t know if that is wise right now.”

“Why not??”

“When Kolivan sent me the info a year ago I was deep undercover. I couldn’t fly out to see him. By the time I could, he and the Blue paladin had gone missing. Now he is back and apparently mated with the Blue paladin.” she bit her thumb, a nervous tick Zaheen recognized. It wasn’t common to see Krolia nervous. “Then, Kolivan decided to NOT inform me my son had been found nearly a month ago!! And I- the blue paladin…”

Krolia? Lost for words and stammering. Something definitely went wrong. “What happened?” he asked.

“I approached it the wrong way.” she sighs, deeply troubled. “I ran into the blue paladin.” She sat beside Zaheen, glancing around. When she knew they were alone she continues. “It’s common news right now of Keith and the blue paladin’s relationship.”

“Yes.” 

“I approached the blue paladin on it. I approve of the Blue paladin.” She says simply. “He is strong, seems kind. He is good for my son. I couldn’t be happier.”

“But?”

“But my concerns are with Zarkon if he were to find out about the relationship. He would use it against them, just as he uses love against every one of his enemies.”

“So then you told Lance-”

“I told him it might be best to separate from Keith.” She nods. “I worded it wrong and he got very angry with me. Rightfully so.” she bit her lip. “He told me I was a terrible Mother. He is right.”

“You aren’t a terrible mother.” Zaheen disagreed. “You’ve done all of this to protect Keith. If you hadn’t left earth, Zarkon would have gone to that planet long ago. And if he had, none of the paladins would have grown old enough to even hear the word “Voltron”.” he insisted.

Krolia rubs the side of her eyes, tired. So very tired. Every Blade of Marmora looked similar when they shared even a moment of a break. Years of war, showing no end was a toll on any soul, no matter how they tried to harden their heart and hide it.

“Yet when my son finds happiness, I tell him to part from it.” She leaned against the table, shoulders slouching.

“You intended to warn them. Zarkon is a threat they should take seriously.” Zaheen says. “And making the relationship so public could always have negative effects if the enemy becomes aware of it. I would have said the same.”

She gives him a long look, in which he quickly corrects, “Okay, you’re right, I would have worded it differently. But the underlying message would have been the same.”

She nods, slouching in her chair, “Yet now it is too late…”

“Well… perhaps you should go speak with your son?” Zaheen offered quietly.

She turns her head slowly, eyes looking at him for answers. “What?”

“You left to protect him, yet he is here now. So… You don’t need to keep your distance anymore. He’s already involved.”

She considered his words, letting them sink into her mind. Keith was here. Her son was here! Years of wanting to see him were over. She could go right up these stairs and talk to him. Hug him and never let him go…

And if he didn’t want her in his life anymore after everything she had put him through?

It was hard to think about, and it’s not like it mattered in the first place. She would never truly know until she tried.

“You make it sound so easy.”

“Introducing yourself to him is easy.” Zaheen chuckled. “It’s what comes after that will be the hard part.”

A heavy sigh left her. When Zaheen cleared his throat, she looked at him. The moment their eyes met he added, “The longer you wait, the harder it will be. You’ve had an excuse till now. If you continue to wait, your excuses won't matter anymore. That is when you’ll lose him, Krolia.” he warns. 

His words stung true.

“When did you get so wise?” she grumbled,

“From listening to you,” he says cheerfully.

She shakes her head fondly, patting the younger Galra’s head. “You sure have grown up, young pup.”

“Please don’t call me that anymore.” he sighs. “Now shoo! Get going and go talk to your son.”

She gets up, smiling. Taking less than two steps she stops. “Wait. There was something else I wanted to discuss. Zaheen.” She says, grabbing his arm. He paused, looking up at her.

“What is it?”

Her gaze was set, serious, “The meeting today. Have you heard what it is about?”

Feeling unnerved he shakes his head, “No...I’ve been down here for a few weeks. You just said it was about the next steps of the war, right?”

“Yes, but more importantly than that, it is to discuss Lotor.”

Zaheen feels his heart stop, “Lotor…? You mean, Prince Lotor??”

“In the last few days, he has been captured.” Krolia nods, “He is currently held within the Lion’s castle.”

Zaheen was at a loss for words. He had heard what she said, yet it didn’t sound real. Lotor was here?

Krolia continued to talk, a cautious tone to her voice, “He surrendered to Voltron, even offering his knowledge to the Coalitions cause. He seems to want to join us against his Father. The meeting will be to discuss whether or not we allow this. It’s hard enough for certain groups in the Coalition to trust the Blade of Marmora. All sides in the rebellion are unwilling to trust the very son of our own enemy.”

“I...see.”

“What are your thoughts on this?” Krolia inquired.

“Why would my thoughts matter?” he asked a little too quickly.

There was a short pause, “You knew him. I suppose I just wanted to see if you would trust him if given the chance.”  

“I knew him, Krolia. Back when we were only children. He is a grown man now and I have not spoken a word to him since. My thoughts shouldn’t add any change into what the coalition thinks. I don’t know the type of person Lotor is anymore.”

Zaheen wheeled himself over to the shelves, his back to Krolia to hide any emotions that might be crossing his face.

Krolia watched him quietly, stepping closer, “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine. I have a lot of work to do.” he says quickly. “It was nice to see you, Krolia. I hope things work out with your son.” 

She frowns but accepts his dismissal of the topic. “I shall see you later, Zaheen.” without another word, she turned and left.

As the door slammed shut behind her, Zaheen lowered his hands to his lap, gripping the blanket surrounding his legs. His jaw tightened, hair prickling up on the back of his neck.

Lotor…

He hadn’t seen him since they were children, that had been no lie. All these years later and his skin still crawls just at the thought of him.

Not that he had a quarrel with the young Prince himself, not at all. He once cared deeply for the Galra heir. Perhaps he... in a small way, still did.

In fact, he had been Zaheen’s first love. Even now he still held that feeling close to his heart. Love wasn’t often found within the Galra, but when it was, it was meant to be treasured.

So he did just that.

What he couldn’t forget was what came to pass after his last encounter with the Galra Prince.

His Mother had been one of Zarkon’s most trusted servants. She had lived the longest, never once angering the emperor. She never made mistakes, never stepped out of line, always said the right things.

She was a survivor, Zaheen recalled. Loyal more to the idea of living another day over Zarkon himself, she did her job flawlessly. Her only downfall had been when she fell in love.

It had been a man that was not Galra, a slave she would pass by in the cells from time to time. He would mop the floors when he was let out or do dishes. Simple tasks, but ones that had them running into each other more often than not.

The blue eyes his Father had were what drew in his mother the most. He had inherited his own blue eyes from him.

One day, his mother had been able to sneak his father out of the prisons and to her home, where he remained hidden. They planned to sneak him aboard a ship and attempt to return him home, yet he refused to leave her.

He could never go outside, locked away within her small home. But he didn’t care. He loved her.

Truly and honestly loved her enough to trade one prisoner for another if it meant he could see her a few times a day. To hold her at night and brush away her nightmares…

After some time, he was born and given the name Zaheen. His Mother had been clever, able to play him off as a full Galra despite only being a half breed. It was his eyes that gave away his genes, so he had often wore a veil of sorts over his face when out in public.

When he was able to work, he joined his mother’s side. A servant at birth practically…

It was a dangerous game they played, having a half breed child so close to the Galra emperor. Yet they managed. It worked at least until he met Lotor.

Perhaps love was his own downfall too. How ironic. 

Lotor had been a very curious Prince, Zaheen decided. Almost too curious.

When they would clean the Prince’s room, he would watch them and ask questions. They answered it as politely as they could, doing anything the Prince asked of them. His big eyes would stare at Zaheen’s veil with awe, often forcing the younger boy to play games with him.

Well, Zaheen says forced, but he remembers fully enjoying every game and day they had together. No other guard or servant could deny the Prince his desire to play with him.

When he was with Lotor, he felt like a normal child. He could play and have fun, laugh with his friend. It was the best years of his life. And Lotor was so amazing. He would tell Zaheen of his ambitions and dreams. How he wanted to go across the universe and visit every planet he could.

He wanted to explore and discover things people couldn’t even imagine. Zaheen wanted to join him.

Then you can !” Zaheen could recall it clearly. The Prince cheering and stomping around with so much excitement, that his small body could hardly contain it. “You can join me on my adventure Zaheen!”

"I can?" It was something out of a fairy tale."

"Of course!" Lotor said proudly, “But you gotta take off your veil.”

“Why?” Zaheen gripped it, tugging it tighter over his face.

“Because, then people will think you're my bride!” Lotor huffed. “Don’t you know?? A lot of species wear a veil over their head when they get married. If you wear that, then everyone might think I’m marrying you…!”

Zaheen still felt a burn in his cheeks at the thought. A foolish thought. He could never marry the Prince. Yet that didn't stop his younger self from dreaming about it. 

"I couldn't wear this to... a wedding." his younger self blushed, "It's ratty and old."

“Well duh!" Lotor paused to rub his chin, "If you did get married... to me, you would need a better veil. One that is pretty and white." The idea seemed to have mad Lotor happy. "And then I'd lift it and give you a smooch." his little fingers, as if practicing for the day, reached forward. They gripped the end of the veil with ease.

Zaheen should have stopped him. Should have pulled away and fled anytime the Prince so much as tried. Perhaps even made up an excuse that the cloth hid some horrid scar.

He didn't do any of these things. Despite his Mother's explicit instructions, he made no attempt to stop Lotor. Then the veil was lifted, Lotor coming face to face with Zaheen for the first time since they met. His eyes went wide, his ears pointing up. 

He dropped the veil back down, dumbstruck. “Blue..."

“Am I ugly?’ Zaheen asked, worried.

Lotor shakes his head slowly, “No…” he peeked under the veil a second time, getting in a better look. “Whoa…” he looked for a few more seconds, “Your eyes are so blue…!” Lotor had been too naive at the time to fully understand what his blue eyes meant.

“They are." Zaheen nods

“Why didn’t you tell me they were blue…??”

“Your eyes are blue too.” Zaheen pointed to them.

“Yeah, but your eyes are REALLY blue!!” Lotor tugs him to his feet.

Since that day Lotor would always steal peeks below his veil. In time, the Prince even wore to marry him and take him far away…

It was a child’s dream, never meant to last. It was fun to imagine it would for a time though.

And then one day, Zarkon had figured out his Mother’s lie. He had seen Lotor lift the veil, had seen his blue, and had realized he was only a half breed.

His rage had boiled over that day. Lotor had been old enough by then to understand how his Father was when angry. There was never mercy, yet he pleaded for it anyway.

He begged his father not to hurt his friend or his family. Begged with all his might.

Zarkon saw that as a weakness. Begging or standing his ground, Lotor was never enough in his eyes.

Zaheen sometimes wished he had never shown Lotor his eyes, but he knew he couldn’t change the past.

That day, as a warning for Lotor to never speak to his servants ever again, Zarkon had gripped his head. He held it like one might hold an orange. All it took was enough force to squeeze out whatever was inside. 

Truly, the cruelty of the Emperor held no bounds. He was barely to the height of the Zarkon's hip, hanging limply in the air by such brute strength. He knew the moment his feet left the ground that it was the end.

He begged and pleaded, but it meant nothing in the eyes of Zarkon. With a shudder, he could remember Lotor screaming, begging, and then a sharp pain.

With just a flick of his wrist, Zarkon had caused severe damage to his spine, nearly snapping it in two.

Zaheen lurched forward in his chair, practically able to feel the pain of the moment all over again.

And that horrible man just tossed him to the side like a rag doll. Leaving him for dead, not even a speck in his eye. Lotor was dragged out of the room crying, his wails still haunting Zaheen’s dreams.

He thought he would die that day. He wanted to die that day.

But Zarkon’s witch had other plans.

Instead of leaving him to die like Zarkon, she found use in him. Convincing her King to allow her this chance, she took his broken body with her as a subject in her latest line of experiments.

It was common nowadays for Galra soldiers to have fake limbs. Even the Black paladin of Voltron has a robotic arm of her design when he was one of Zarkon’s captives.

She has come a long way since she began, "blessing" him with the chance to be one of her first guinea pigs. For many years had was with her, the time going to he was a young teenager, forced to endure endless torture. He had never seen his parents again but had learned they had been executed for their crimes of deceiving Zarkon. It was his fault... All his fault. Their lives weren't perfect, but they had each other. If he had just headed his Mother's warning perhaps they could have been happy together for a little while longer. 

She wanted to enhance the Galra body. So she took his legs and gave metal replacements. Not that he could use them anyway with his spinal cord ripped to shreds. It was a miracle he had even survived. 

Then again, druid magic always achieved the impossible, as well as the unnatural.

To allow him mobility, they attached the mechanics to his spine. It was a long and very painful process, but it worked. He could walk again. 

He could remember the witch talking sometimes as she worked. She wanted to make the perfect soldier, but one that could still give birth to the next generation. An army needed soldiers after all....

She had worked endlessly to attach the nervous system to her contraptions, while still preserving his internal organs as they were.

Zaheen slowly lifted the blanket off his legs to stare at her accomplishments. Metal legs met his gaze, leading up to his hips then attaching furth beneath the skin to his lower spine.

He hated them…

He could walk, run, simply stand and bask in the sun- but he hated them. 

What made it worse was that it seemed almost meaningless. There was one flaw to her design that left him attached to this wheelchair of his. Her creations required quintessence to work properly. If you didn’t have that then the body part was useless, unable to move.

When he was with Haggar she had supplied that quintessence on her own, forcing him to train and become her weapon for many years. She’d take the vial and slip it into the container along his left leg. One vial tended to last him a few months if he was smart about it.

The moment it ran out he would fall over, legs going stiff as if they needed to be oiled. The science behind it was something he didn’t quite comprehend. The nerves were attached, yet a power source was required for it to actually move…

Perhaps it was the body’s way of showing that it knew her "enhancements" weren’t natural.

It didn’t matter to him, he hated using these legs either way.

He was lucky he got out of there. He had planned an escape for months, meeting a man named Kolivan during his 2nd attempt. This man explained what the Blade of Marmora was, and offered him an opportunity to join them.

Zaheen couldn’t agree fast enough.

It wasn’t long before his legs ran out of juice however and he became useless to the cause. Every once and a while Kolivan was able to snag him some quintessence from the Galra Empire… but it’s never much.

It’s better they use it for their ships or weapons instead of him. He prefers his wheelchair anyway…

When he is using his legs, it’s only to hurt people.

Apparently, or so he's heard, Haggar has found a way to blend the robotic limbs to a person’s personal quintessence. He can see that aspect with the Black paladin.

Shiro doesn’t need a constant re-supply of gathered quintessence because his arm is attached to his own soul. The glow when he uses his arm is his own quintessence. It’ll never run out so long as he is alive…

He wondered if the Black paladin even realized this himself. 

It would almost be impressive to him if the work wasn’t done to make Shiro into a weapon.

Either way, none of it mattered. He was stuck in this wheelchair, and Shiro has his Galra arm. The past can’t be altered…

He could only hope the future was better.

And maybe… Maybe if Lotor means what he says, the Galra empire could change. Honestly, he wanted to go see Lotor for himself.

Thoughts of him were the only thing that kept him going through his days with Haggar Seeing even just a glimpse of him…

He shakes his head. He had to get his thoughts out of the past. Lotor was a different man, no longer a child. He probably doesn’t even remember him anymore…

Why would he ever remember a pathetic servant from his youth…?


"We can't trust him! He'll bring ruin to us all! We should execute him!" 

The room echoed with hate, the coalition broken into different wild opinions on the latest topic at hand. The leaders sat at a large circle, physically present or holograms if they weren't able to make the journey to Olkarian. 

Ryner stood, "Lotor's knowledge is something we cannot simply toss away!"

"That monster is the son of Zarkon! He cannot be trusted!" Another barked. 

A grimace crossed Allura's fair features, folding her arms against her lap. She took a deep breath, listening to the opinions of each rebel leader. As fighting nearly broke up she rose, slamming her palm against the table to silence them. "Enough!" Her paladins stood behind her, dressed and standing in a line, there to serve as the presence of Voltron. Considering they were the ones who captured Lotor, their opinions were also crucial in the decision of what would be done with the Prince. 

The room froze, leaders dropping back into their seats with wide eyes. "Princess..." they bowed their heads. 

"I did not summon you all together to argue, but to stand as one," she spoke, eyes narrowed. "I understand your feelings well. I do not trust Lotor, but this situation is not about trust. It is about Zarkon. We have seen the movements of his troops. Vast numbers of ships have been seen in sections across the borders and we need to know what his next target is. If we cannot predict it, thousands may die before we can get there." 

"He may just lead us into a trap as well." the Puid King frowns. "He came to our planet and threatened our people just to draw Voltron into an ambush!" he reminded them

Keith and Lance glance at each other, puzzled. They assumed this had happened during the time they were missing. 

Allura frowns, "That he did." 

"But he didn't hurt anyone," Hunk speaks up. "Yeah, he had no issues trying to beat us up-" he gestures to his team, "But he never injured any civilian." he looks pointedly at the Puid King. "He had every opportunity to kill you or your people, but instead he just disarmed you and then left you in peace when we arrived. If it had been Zarkon, he would have vaporized your entire planet before we got there." Hunk speaks softly. "I don't know him enough to say that I trust him, but I can at least say he isn't like his Father." 

"I agree with that statement," Kolivan spoke up. "Lotor and his Father have never gotten along. It's well known through the Galra empire that Lotor was banished to the far unknown sector by Zarkon. His birthright to the throne had also been taken from him due to this action."

"Why?" Ryner asked, "What did he do to get himself banished?"

Kolivan didn't answer right away, a dark look in his eyes. His right-hand man, Relo, spoke instead, "He went against his Father's orders. Not many Galra were there to witness it, but it was rumored to be a day Lotor showed a weakness that was not the Galra way. A few of our spies were present on the ship to learn what happened." 

"And what did happen?" Allura leaned forward, curious. 

"He was assigned to dominate and rule the planet. To harness the quintessence of the Denizens that inhabited the area. Instead... he worked beside them." Relo's words were enough to make the hall go still, each listening quietly. "Before Zarkon's witch learned a way to take the quintessence of an entire planet by force, Lotor's time on that planet had served as the highest gathering of quintessence the Galra Empire had ever seen. No life had been lost during it. It was prosperous."

"His Father disapproved of his means of getting it, however," Kolivan added in with a growl. "Despite the results, Zarkon could not accept that Lotor had... "Lowered" himself to working with the people. To punish him, he destroyed the planet and banished Lotor."

Keith felt sick to his stomach. "But... He found a way to gather quintessence without killing people." he shakes his head. 

Relo scowled, "That is a tyrant for you. If you aren't bowing to his feet in submission, Zarkon would rather see you dead." 

The room took a few seconds to let this news settle. It was disturbing, to say the least. Zarkon's brutality didn't even hesitate to his own flesh and blood. 

"If we can take anything away from that-" Shiro folded his arms, "At least we know that his intentions to end his father's reign must be true." 

"But how far does that go?" Pidge says, "He hates Zarkon. He can get in line with the rest of us. What matters is what he might do when Zarkon is gone. I don't think his banishment will matter once his father is out of the picture. He might just take over and do things his own evil way. An evil for an evil."

Allura sighs, slowly looking towards Lance, "Lance, Pidge and you have come into contact with him recently before his capture. He gave himself up to defend his comrades. He holds honor in at least that. Before that moment, what were your thoughts on him?"

Lance rubbed the back of his neck, unsure. "Well... When I first met him he wasn't exactly friendly. Inflitrated the castle of Lions and attempted to steal it. Then when we ran into during out Crystal collection..." he looks at Pidge, who knows what he's about to say. "He saved my life."

"What??" the coalition choruses. 

"There was a cave in, and he tackled me out of the way. He didn't have to do that, but he did. I can't tell you what his intentions were or why he did it. But I don't think he wants any of us dead. He has goals, something he wants to accomplish. I don't know what it is, or if it is good or bad. But I think, for now, we can worry about his goals later. As Allura said, we are here to deal with Zarkon. He has been our biggest threat for 10,000 years." Lance shook his head, "If we have a chance to take him down because of Lotor, then I think we should take it." 

"Lance is right." Keith cleared his throat, "The coalition grows stronger every day. Whatever Lotor's second objective is, if it is a threat, we can take that on together too. After Zarkon is gone." 

The team is nodding with them, on the same page for once since Lance and Keith returned. 

Even Allura was nodding. "I have made mistakes in my sense of trust in the past," she explains. "I let what others have done influence my judgment on strangers. My hatred for the Galra blinded me to my allies." she motioned to the Blade of Marmora. "A mistake that I will never make again. Lotor is Zarkon's son, and we should not look past that. But we should judge him on his own actions."

To their surprise, the Coalition nodded. They trusted the paladins after all. They had saved their lives more than once. If they were willing to give that man a chance, then maybe they could too. They have proven wrong over their thoughts of the Blades after all. 

In the end, a decision was made. They would keep close watch over Lotor, but he was free to join their coalition. So long as rules were followed, and he reported every action to Voltron until proven that they could trust him.  


Keith should have known when Shiro entered that it was going to be another conversation about Lance and his relationship. He was just surprised at how insistent Shiro was about it. They had already been arguing for a few minutes, Shiro starting the talk with “About Lance…” which Keith felt should just be a red flag when it comes to Shiro

Everything just went downhill from there.

“Can we just train, please??” Keith demanded, frustrated.

Shiro runs a hand through his hair. “Keith, this has never interested you before.”

"What hasn't? Training?"

"No. Love. Relationships." 

“That doesn’t mean that it won't change, Shiro.” he grumbles, lifting his sword and swinging it down, practicing. If he focused on this maybe he won’t take his anger out on Shiro instead.  

“This suddenly?” Shiro added, “Lance and you are so different from each other, Keith…”

“It isn’t “suddenly” Shiro. You weren’t there on Iespion and everything we went through. We didn’t just start acting this way. We went through a lot to get to this point, so excuse me for being pissed that there is still something trying to keep me away from Lance!’ he jabbed an accusing finger towards his leader.

“I’ve known you for years, Keith. This just seems too abrupt.” the black paladin says softly. “You always… choose, to be distant with others.”

Keith’s hands still, thinking back to his years of solitude. How lonely they were…

“I was that way…” he agreed.

“Listen, Keith, I get it. But-”

“No,” Keith stops him, his gaze set but his voice soft, “You don’t. You don’t understand, Shiro. It can’t be anyone but him. I’ve followed your little rule, and I’ve kept my distance, and I assure you, nothing has changed from that time we’ve spent on that planet.”

“Keith,” Shiro looks away, “We’re in a war right now. You’re too young to have confidence in what you are saying. You are barely even 18,”

“But I’m old enough to fight in a war??” Keith countered

Shiro hesitates, “I- you know what I mean!”

“I’m an adult- I’m not some kid you have to look out for anymore. I know what my decisions are, and I will accept everything that comes after them. Just like you and everyone else here. So don’t go playing that stupid age crap on me.” Keith concludes, his tone cold. He had come to a resolve, and he wasn’t going to let anyone in this stupid castle get in his way anymore, “I tried to follow as you asked Shiro, because you’re like a brother to me, but not when it comes to Lance.” Keith had thought about this for a very long time. As he said, because Shiro was like his brother, he tried to see things from his eyes. In a way, he understood. They were paladins of Voltron, and stopping Zarkon had to come first.

When he first joined, he was fully on board with that, and actually got very angry with any of the team if they ever wanted to stray from that task and call it quits. What he hadn’t accounted for when he agreed to don the title of Paladin was a very easy on the eyes Cuban boy with soft brown hair, ocean blue eyes, lean with broad shoulders, a smile that could set your heart ablaze- he was getting off topic.

The point of this was, he didn’t care anymore. Every planet could disappear as long as Lance was saved. But if everything else was protected, and Lance fell into the chaos, the whole universe would burn in Keith’s eyes as something he could no longer recognize or accept. It was drastic even just to admit that, yet it was true.

“Keith,” Shiro almost pleads with him, “I was talking to Allura. We discussed your genetics.”

“My genetics?” Keith gawks at him, agitated but also puzzled, “What does that mean?”

“You’re Galra, Keith. Allura brought to my attention that Galra only ever mate with one partner. They grow an attachment with them as soon as they… mate,”

Keith shakes his head, not liking where this is going, “I’m half Galra, and even if I was a full Galra, what does that have to do with anything?”

Shiro takes his time to answer, looking Keith in the eyes, “I think that perhaps you are so attached to Lance because of that genetic trait. You-” Shiro’s awkward pause isn’t helping Keith to take him seriously, “You made love to Lance, so now your body is convinced he is your mate. Your mate for life,”

Shiro talked as if that was a bad thing. To Keith, that sounded like the best thing anyone could have ever told him.

“Really?”

Shiro seems to see the joy filling Keith’s eyes and is quick to say, “That isn’t a good thing, Keith.”

“Fuck you!” he snarled, startling them both. 

“Keith!” Shiro scolds.

“I mean it! First, you try to tell me that the reason I love Lance is because I was stranded alone with him. Then I prove to you that isn’t it and you assume the only reason I feel this way is because of genetics?! I mean- isn’t that usually why someone likes someone?? Genetics are what makes us who we are?? I can’t believe you. You still can’t just accept that I love him? That me, who I am, loves someone truly and honestly?”

“That isn't what I meant to say. I just don’t want you to get hurt in the end if these feelings turn out to be false.”

“Maybe they aren’t false, Shiro! Maybe they’re real. Like you just said, my genetics have made up their mind! They choose Lance! ”

“And what about Lance, Keith?” Shiro sighs.

Keith pauses and sets his jaw, “What about him?”

“Galra mate for life, and the signs you have been showing being apart with Lance is pointing to the notion that you follow with the Galra genes in mating with only one person. Humans aren’t like that Keith. You and Lance are both still 18-”

“Lance is 19,” Keith cuts in,

Shiro makes a face, “You are 18, he is 19, and Lance could change his mind. You’ve seen how he is. How much he flirts...” He states slowly, “You aren’t even in your 20’s yet.”

Keith attempts to punch him, but Shiro catches his wrist, “Stop thinking you are always right! I loved him before I had sex with him, Shiro! So stop trying to tell me how I’m feeling! Stop trying to tell me how Lance is feeling!”

“Keith no- that isn’t it. I understand! You can’t help it. It is in your genetics, and even if we separate you two you might not get better with how your genetics are. But Lance-”

The resounding crack of Keith’s fist connecting with Shiro’s jaw would have even the most stoic warrior flinch away. The Black paladin crashed to the floor violently, blood coming from his mouth.

He turned, holding his jaw in shock. The red paladin stood above him, seething.

“Don’t you dare talk as if you know him,” Keith says. “You’ve always done this. Before, I didn’t care. But now I do! You belittle him, Shiro! You doubt him and his abilities. Even if you don’t say it straight out, your words insinuate it! You push me above him when I don’t know half of what I’m doing and he does! You judge him because he is more open! You judge him because he cracks jokes and tries to get others to smile. You treat him like an idiot compared to me! Well you’re wrong! The only reason I survived on that planet was because of Lance! The only reason any of us are here is because of Lance! So stop it!”

“Keith…” Shiro slowly turned, his hand holding his bruising jaw.

Keith lifts his fist to punch him again. To punch him a thousand times till he shut up for good! But in the last second, he couldn’t do it. Shiro was his brother… He loved him. He just wanted him to understand.

Lowering his fist, he sighed. His voice was tight when he speaks next, “You’re right about one thing, Shiro,”

His leader looked shocked, “What?”

“I didn't care about a lot of things. Back then, I could care less about Lance, or love- I barely even interacted with the team more than I had to. It was easier that way, you know? I wouldn't have to constantly have a reminder of how alone I was if I just didn't care…”

Shiro’s eyes looked pained, “Keith…”

“But I don't want to be that way anymore,” Keith continues, “I want to be different. I want to have friends and family and not be so alone…” he turns away when his voice cracks, “Lance made me realize how lonely I am. And once I did, I started to feel happy. He makes me happy, Shiro. Why can't you see that? Why can’t you see how much it hurts when you say stuff like this? About me, about Lance…?” he covers his eyes for a moment. He can hear Shiro slowly rising to his feet behind him.

When his brother speaks, it nearly breaks his heart. “I’m sorry…” he looks back at Shiro to find his expression filled with remorse. “I never knew you felt that way. I- I was blind not to. To see how lonely you must have felt-” he reached for his little brother but stops when Keith slaps his hand away

"Don't touch me," Keith ordered, hurt echoing in his voice. 

Shiro's hand falls to his side, “I’m sorry.”

Keith can’t bare to hear that. To see Shiro, his hero, lowering his head in guilt.

“I need to go…” he turns, leaving the room faster than Shiro could ever stop him. In fact, in his remorse, no one could. Even if Allura tried, she could not prevent Keith from making his way to the living quarters and knocking on Lance’s door.

When his starlight opened the door, rubbing his eyes, Keith felt like he was going to cry. Lance was drowsy, vision quickly focusing as soon as he realized it was Keith.

"Keith...?" he reached out for him. "Hey. Sorry I was tired and went to bed early. Is everything okay-"

The red paladin is rushing in a moment later, arms tangling around Lance's torso. They stumble back, the door closing just as Lance's back hits the bed. The air is nearly knocked out of him, wheezing. "Keith? What are you doing?"

"We should just leave," Keith speaks against Lance's chest, sounding like an upset child. "Grab the lions and just go somewhere far away." 

"Well, that doesn't sound very ideal." Lance pursed his lips. "But where would we go?" he played along, patting Keith's hair.  

"Iespion."

"They would probably look there first." Lance joked. Keith didn't laugh, adjusting them on the bed to pin Lance below him. "Keith... What's wrong?" Lance tries again. 

Instead of an answer, their lips found their way together. 

Lance's mind is reeling, moving too fast to keep up with. Keith's hands are everywhere, trying to hold him tight. As if he was afraid Lance would disappear at any second.

"Keith?" his voice was barely above a whisper when given the chance to catch his breath.

“I want to do it.” Keith huffed against his neck.

A bold statement. Yet a half-hearted one. 

"Is that really what you want?" Lance whispered, rubbing Keith's back.

A shred of anger filled Keith's voice, "Yes. I want to forget about this horrible day."

 

"A no good, terrible, very bad day?" Lance mused. 

Keith lifted his head, pout evident, "Take this seriously." 

“I am, but you’re making that face again,” Lance mumbled, rubbing his thumb over Keith's lip to try and get a smile. His expression was icy and somber instead.

“I’m not making a face.” he says, not tearing his eyes away.

“You make faces when you are upset.” Lance reaches up, gripping Keith’s cheeks and squishing them together. “I’m Keith~” he squeezed Keith’s cheeks to make his lips move, “I’m being grumpy and not giving my equivalent some sugar~”

A smile breaks through for only a moment, a scowl quickly returning. “I’ll give you ‘sugar’ all night. Just let me be moody during it....” he kissed Lance’s hands. The promise made his cheeks burn, but he couldn’t just let his equivalent pout all day without knowing the reason why.

“Keith.” Lance says “How about you talk to me instead of just giving my shirt the stink eye?”

Keith fingers fumbled with the buttons of the shirt, “Same old stuff.” he cursed under his breath, the buttons refusing to cooperate with him. 

“Allura or Shiro?” Lance watched, finding it funny how Keith struggled to do simple tasks like this whenever he was angry. 

“Allura is always pissing me off. She just- hasn’t said anything to piss me off lately.  It’s Shiro right now. It’s what he said.”

“He couldn't have said anything that bad,” Lance chides him.

Keith shakes his head in disagreement. “He… he insulted you.”

“What?” Lance blinks rapidly. Shiro never really insulted anyone. Not even Slav when the alien had pushed Shiro to his limits.

“He doubted you, Lance. He talked like he expected you to turn around and run off with someone else the first chance you got.” Keith seethed

“Oh.” it was really all Lance could say. He felt like he should be upset or angry, but he wasn’t, “That’s okay.”

“No, it isn't!” Keith barks, “He- he questioned your honor! He doubted everything about you! He-”

“When is that anything new?”Lance muses. Keith cuts off, the blood draining from his face and his chest feeling tight

“Lance…” he mumbles. That shouldn’t be ‘"nothing new" for him. That should be shocking that Shiro or anyone would think that of him. How often had Lance been belittled that he actually just expected everyone to think that of him?

As Keith’s mind agonizes over this, Lance surprises him by cupping his face.

“He chooses you over me because he knows you, Keith. He knows you'll do anything for the team and the people you protect. He hardly knows any of us, so of course, his trust would fall more to you,” Lance smiles, “I've been underestimated all my life- it really is nothing new. Sometimes it hurts, but it's kind of fun too,”

Lance's equivalent swallows thickly, the words sounding strange to him, "Fun?"

“It means you go above everyone’s expectations,” the love of Keith’s life grinned, “When I show people what I can do, I blow them away.” He presses their foreheads together, “I learned that after I met you.”

Keith was mesmerized. When had Lance grown so much? He hadn't even noticed the change till now but he seemed…. mature. Content and strong. It made Keith's heart race, it bubbling with so much more love to this amazing man that Lance was turning into.

Not knowing how else to show how important this Cuban boy was to him, Keith lifted his fingers to hold Lance’s chin and kissed him. Drinking in everything he missed, everything he ever wanted, everything that he’d loved fully and wholly all these months, as if Lance were the only thing that made Keith complete.

And he loved Lance’s resolve- his determination to prove others wrong about him… to step forward and know everyone thinks he is a failure, but believe in himself enough to admit that he isn’t perfect, but that doesn’t mean that those people are right.

As they pulled away, Lance smiled

“You’re beautiful,” He tells Keith , and the flush across the red paladin’s cheeks is one of the most breathtaking sights Lance has ever seen. It’s been months, almost a year, and he still makes Lance’s stomach turn and his heart thump. Still enchanted and fascinated with the idea of knowing another person better than he knew himself.

“You’re are the beautiful one,” Keith says back. He made a shocked yet happy sound a moment later when the first button of Lance's shirt came undone. He was making progress. "I still want to do it..." he admits, biting his lip. "What Shiro said is still bugging me." 

Lance made a noise sounding like a chuckle, “As much of a fan I am of angry sex-” he flipped them over, startling Keith. “I don’t think that is what you need right now.”

Forced to lay on his back Keith gawked as his equivalent. “But-!”

“Instead…” Lance gripped his chin, offering Keith a tender kiss before whispering. “How about you let me pamper you instead? And then we'll see where it takes us? I think you need some love." 

Keith’s eyes were glazing over, puzzled. “Love…?”

“It’s been a while since you’ve let me comfort you, instead of the other way around,” Lance informed him. “Allow me to make the scoreboard even.” he grinned impishly. “I’ll take good care of you. So just lay back and relax. Forget your worries.”

Keith wanted to say he couldn’t just do that. He couldn’t forget what horrible things Shiro had said. Yet the look in Lance’s eyes was too convincing. “Lance.”

“I’m here,” he promises the red paladin. “I don’t know what happened but you can tell me later. For now, let me spoil you.”

Heart fluttering Keith can’t help but be swept away by such sweet words. “You… aren’t playing fair.” Warm hands cup his face, caressing his cheeks with soft affection.

“All’s fair in love and war.” Lance mumbled, kissing his nose. Then his cheeks, his forehead, finally Keith’s lips. When he pulled back, he looked Keith in the eyes. “Forget about them all, Keith. Forget Shiro, Allura- forget everything for now. Just focus on me. My touch.” a hand trailed down his chest. “Just me.”

Keith nodded obediently.

“That’s it.” Lance praised. 

Like it was turned to mush with just a simple smile, Keith felt the minutes wash away into hours. 

When Keith had gone into Lance's room, neither of them came out for hours, locked within long into the night. They only ventured out for breakfast the following day, hand in hand, laughing when they entered the room. Seeing that Allura and Shiro weren't joining them, they sat down next to each other.

Hunk choked on his food, “Dude,” he shakes his head.

When Keith tilted his head in confusion, Pidge motioned to his neck. Glancing down Keith was horrified to the hickey bitten disarray his neck was in. 

Lance sipped his drink innocently, smirking when Keith scrambled to cover himself

“Ya nasties,” Pidge shakes her head at the two.

"Don't know what you mean?" Lance chuckled. "Oh, and Hunk, I'm not sure Keith will be able to join us for training today." 

"...Why?" Hunk squinted his eyes. 

"He just a little... sore, right now." Lance grinned. 

Keith smacked his arm, I"m fine! Don't tell them about that!" his face was red, Hunk's quickly following when he realized what they must mean. 

"Please don't tell me about this stuff," he whined.  

Lance cackled wildly, rubbing his eyes. As the new day began, so did a lingering worry in the Blue paladin's mind. He wanted to let Keith be at ease, especially during such a troubling time. His health was just starting to get back to normal. He hadn't figured out what had happened in the first place, nor seen Coran with all these meetings going on. Had he figured out what had caused Keith's health to decline? 

If so, what was it? He needed to know so they could avoid again. If it was stress, wouldn't telling him about his mother do the opposite of making him better? He wasn't sure. 

He stuffed his face full of food, wanting to forget. Tonight, he decided. He will tell Keith tonight, no matter what!

Lance lifted his head when the door opened, their smiles growing when Coran entered the room. “HI Coran!” they chorused. He gave them a weak smile in return.

"Coran, I was actually hoping to talk to you." Lance speaks up, "About Keith."

"Me?" Keith asks. 

"Yeah. We've been trying to figure out why you suddenly collapsed and got so sick." Lance explains. "I thought maybe Coran had come up with some answer."

The older man played with his mustache, "Ah yes. I actually wanted to talk to you all about that." he says somberly. "But, there is something else to be done first. I  come with a message,” he announced.

The four were puzzled, tilting their heads at the older man. “From who?”

“Allura.” he announced. “It’s for Keith,”

He frowns,  “What for?”

Coran shifted, obviously unsure. “Allura… she wants to see you. It might just be about your condition and why you collapsed.” he says, "Or about something else. She didn't wish to tell me what it was, only that I fetch you." 

"Is this another thing about my genes?" Keith sighed. 

"You genes?" the team was confused. 

"Well, there is more to it than that. If she doesn't explain it I will go into detail about it with the team when you return." Coran offers. 

"Okay." Keith begins to stand 

Lance’s hand automatically reached out, taking Keith’s wrist. “What does she want?”

Coran’s shoulders slouch, heavy and unable to keep his usually peppy attitude, “I’m not even sure.” When he had seen her... she seemed off. Exhausted and moody. The coalition had been taking up a lot of her time giving her little to rest in return. One tended to do rash or reckless things when you couldn't straight. Not that he felt Allura would hurt Keith, never. He just worried she might say something that she didn't mean. 

Keith glanced at Lance and nodded to him, “It’ll be okay.” he promised him. With a squeeze to his hand, Keith followed Coran.  

He was lead right up towards the upper floors, looking out to the skylight above.

“She’ll be here in a moment.” Coran pauses, turning to Keith. “Keith?”

“Yeah?”

“She cares for you, she does. I know lately, it might not seem that way." Coran placed a hand on Keith's shoulder. "Her past, her father, the expectations of being the last Altean royal... all of these have done a number on her. And for someone as young as her, holding that burden is like a curse. She feels she must answer for many things alone, and follow whatever legacy her Father left for her as some... atonement for being unable to save him. So please, I ask that if she continues to stray down the right path, you be patient with her." 

"Coran..."

"She is a good, and kind-hearted person. She makes mistakes like any young adult. Tossed into this life with no moment to simply take a break and cry over what she has lost, she bottles up many feelings she has. Both good and bad feelings. I know she loves the team. Loves Lance and you. Deep down, I'm positive she is happy you two found each other."

"It's hard to get that same feeling." Keith frowned. 

"Yes, I understand. I know more than you about her past. About the paladin code. It's something hard to talk about, especially with Allura. I agreed to keep quiet about it, but I know it's only a matter of time before she tells you about it herself. It won't make up for the mistakes she made recently, but maybe it'll at least help her strive to make amends for them. You've grown into a fine young man, Keith." Coran's smile is filled with pride. Keith felt himself smiling in return. "And I know, when she sees that too, she'll want to strive to be someone worthy of being your family. Just you wait." he winked. 

Keith was amazed at how much Coran held confidence in Allura, even despite her actions at times. He loved her like his own daughter. It boggled Keith's mind... To believe in someone, that they would still be good even after doing so much bad. It was beautiful. 

It made him hope that even if Allura continued to do bad things, to try and tear them apart, she'd come around eventually. And when she did, things would truly be perfect. 

He hoped that could be true. 

Yet as Coran left and Keith entered the room he was to meet Allura, he worried about what was about to come. Had she finally reached her breaking point? If so, what exactly would that mean?

Chapter Text

They couldn't form voltron. Like that was anything new. Honestly, Lance was amazed Allura had managed to get through all these treaty meetings and somehow avoid the fact that they couldn’t form the rebellions main symbol of freedom.

That took some real dancing around the truth, if you asked him. More or less blatant lying too, especially since they got most of their allies by telling everyone “They could form voltron”.

But of course they didn’t tell anyone they couldn’t actually do that for obvious reasons. That would be horrible for morale. He figured the Blade of Marmora were catching on. They were smart, and considering the team attempted to use Voltron in every fight normally, it would seem odd they hadn’t in the last few weeks.

So their time was wildly spent with physical training and bonding. At least, as much as they could considering the circumstances for the break in their bond.

For now, they couldn’t worry about anyone finding out. They just had to work on fixing it. Which was easier said than done;

Keith was mad at Shiro,

Shiro was feeling guilty.

Pidge and Hunk were mad at Shiro, but more spiteful to Allura.

Allura was on some vow of silence, not saying a word either against or for their relationship. She simply went to Coalition meets and that was it.

Lance just wanted them to get along again, like they used to.

And now, Keith was being called to talk alone with Allura? It worried him. Those two tended to be similar to bombs when around each other. Especially if there was no middle man to try and find the peace between them

Lance just hoped things would get better soon. It was slowly, in it’s own way.

The only plus side was that because of the team’s strife against each other, he was able to see Keith as long as he pleased. No one else in the team tried to stop them anyone, and Shiro knew that if he ever tried again that Keith would deck him.

Lance had a feeling Shiro was done trying anyway.

To busy himself while Keith was talking with Allura, he was given the task to bring Lotor and his comrades their meal. He had basically been avoiding the guy since his capture, but if he was really going to be trying to work with the Prince like he claimed he would at the Coalition meeting, Lance would need to spend some time with him.

One elevator ride later and he was standing before the Galran Prince himself. His Generals sat beside him, all confined to one cell.

They had requested the move a few days ago, insisting they wouldn’t try anything so long as they could keep each other company. The team doubled the security on them when agreeing.

The whole group was very… friendly, to each other.

The generals looked to Lotor like their leader, yes, but also a friend. They talked fondly of him, laughing and making jokes at times. He laughed in return.

They were family.

Despite how different each of them were they found a connection within each other. This alone is probably what convinced Lance most that Lotor wasn’t like his Father. Zarkon didn’t even have a bond with his own family, let alone someone who wasn’t connected to him my blood.

“Well, if it isn’t the Blue paladin.” Exor sneered, flipping towards the screen to look at him.

“Exor.” he says simply, holding the weightless tray containing several plates of food. “I’ve brought you your meals.”

“Strange to see you down here.” Axca says, “Usually it is one of the other paladins.”

“Well everyone else is busy,” Lance explains, nearly jumping out of his skin when the larger Galra of the five slammed against the see-through wall separating them.

“Did the yellow paladin make those??” she demanded. Zethrid was her name, if Lance recalled.

“Yes.” he frowned, “How did you know?”

The five inhale slowly, the growls of their stomach resonating a second later. “It smells good,” they explain simply.

Lance tilted his head, “Well… yeah, Hunk is a genius in the kitchen. I wouldn’t exactly call you prisoners if I was getting the food you were getting. He spoils you.”

“Makes us all the more inclined to just relax where we are.” Lotor mused. “Tell me, the Princess spoke of a meeting but has not come down with the details of it. Has anything been decided?”

Lance pressed the button to open the wall panel, slipping the food inside. “Oh, you hadn’t heard yet?” he asked. “A decision was made.”

The five galra paused as the plates slipped into their hands. They glanced to their leader, who frowned, “And what was that decision?” Lotor spoke, his voice deep and resonating.

Lance met his eyes, speaking, “A chance.”

“What does that mean?” Zethrid frowned, pressing between Lance and Lotor protectively, despite a wall still between them all. Like he could make it past that behemoth of a woman anyway.

“The Coalition wants to give you a chance. We don’t trust you, Lotor. Not yet. But if what you say is true and you can help us stop Zarkon, then we’re willing to hear you out.”

Lotor’s facial expression didn’t change, the perfect mask to hide whatever emotions he had. He simply nodded, grabbed his spoon and began to eat.

“Truly a delight. In all my time I spent with my Father and his supposed “Royal chefs” I have never had a meal quite as delicious.”

“You don’t seem very surprised by the news.” Lance frowned, noting that Lotor didn’t even comment on it. Like he expected this…

The Prince chuckled, “The coalition is smart. They won’t miss an opportunity to learn what I know.” he says simply. “Besides, a chance to be judged for my actions over who my Father is, well, that is exactly what I wanted in the first place.” he offered a smile, waving his fork to Lance.

“Hm.” Lance folded his arms, “I see…” standing there for a moment he eventually asked, “Then, can I ask you a question. Since you agreed to give information…?”

“Certainly.”

Before Lance could ask what had been on his mind for weeks now, Lotor’s general beat him to the punch, “If it’s about Lotor’s sock size, he has small feet. So get small socks.” Ezor says with a smile.

“...” Lotor slowly looked at her, his expression tightened. “He didn’t ask that. And you most definitely didn’t need to tell him about my sock size.”

“Prince Lotor likes stargazing, and walks, and- and fluffy things.” Zethrid listed with her fingers

“Why are you even telling him that…??” Lotor’s frown worsened.

“He is a strong leader and a smart tactician,” Axca says confidently. “But he has a weakness for a pretty face.”

Lotor gawked at her, his calm demeanor breaking for the first time that day. If that wasn’t enough, something else seemed to set him off. Lance didn’t hear whatever was said, but suddenly Lotor whipped around to Narti, the Galra who had been injured. Her spoon is still hanging from her mouth, her tail swinging idly behind her.

“Narti!” Lotor says as Zethrid and Exor fell over laughing. Axca covered her mouth, nearly choking.

“What vulgar language.” she giggled at whatever Narti had said.

“What?” Lance leaned closer, confused. “She didn’t say anything.”

Lotor reached towards Narti with trembling hands, barely controlling himself from lunging at her. Whatever she said, it must have been a real hard hitter.

“She… doesn’t not speak with her voice.” he growled through gritted teeth. “Instead, she talks with you with her mind. A telepathic link.”

“She can…??” Lance was amazed. “None of us knew that…!”

“Well now you do~” Exor giggled. “And man, you should have heard what Narti said just now~”

“No. No, he doesn’t.” Lotor jabbed a finger at her.

The multi-colored Galra snickered, leaning back into Zethird. They both grinned mischievously at their leader, intertwining their fingers together.

Lance had noticed the two seemed to be, close. Always next to one another whenever the chance was given. He even heard them finish each other’s sentences more times than could be a coincidence.

“Are you two…” he cut himself off, not wanting to insinuate. They seemed to understand what he was trying to say anyway and smiled.

“We are.” Zethrid wrapped an arm around Exor with pride. “Swept me right off my feet, this little lady.”

“Here we go again.” Axca leaned back, pursing her lips with annoyance.

“Oh no no, you won me over~” Ezor cooed, nuzzling Zethrid’s face. “With those big muscles~ Oh, I can remember the first day I saw you take out that Plazinum Guard just with a body slam~”

Zethrid cooed, which was something Lance never thought he would hear, “That was nothing compared to that time you won us that battlecruiser by taking the captain hostage without anyone even realizing you were there~”

“Ah…” Lance frowned, not liking the sound of that. Of any of this, actually.

“Sir.” Axca pleaded her leader, hoping he could stop this. “They’ll be like this for hours now…”

“Probably.” Lotor nodded, taking another bite of his food. He made sure to say pointedly to Lance, “We aren’t perfect, but at least we are not on Zarkon’s side.”

“I can see that.” Lance shakes his head. “Well, I don’t think we’ll be confining you to this cell for much longer. They want to keep Blade of Marmora guards with you for a while, so once they set up that system they’ll let you out.” he explains. “So probably only one more day in here.”

“Oh sweet!” Exor stood, stretching her arms above her head, “It’s so cramped in here. Barely any room to move.”

“You didn’t all have to be in the same cell, you know.” Lance says simply. “You each had your own.”

“But that would have been lonely,” Exor says simply.

Lance blinked. They’d rather be squished together then free to move alone. It was kind of sweet.

With that thought, he took their plates and made a move to leave.

“Blue Paladin.” Lotor called.

Lance paused, looking over his shoulder, “I go by Lance.”

“Lance.” Lotor corrects himself. “You came here to ask me a question, yet you forgot to ask it.”

“Oh! You’re right, I did…”

“What was your question?”

He turned around, rubbing the back of his neck uncertainty. “ Why did you… save me?”

“Save you?”

“Back at the crystal mines. We weren't allies back then. You didn’t have too…”

“If I hadn’t, Voltron would have lost their blue paladin. The Coalition would have lost a vital key in defeating Zarkon.” Lotor answers without skipping a beat.

“But were you thinking all that when you tackled me out of the way…?”

Lotor was quiet for a short time before answering, “No. Nothing of the sort. I simply didn’t wish to see you crushed. There was no bigger meaning to it other than I felt you deserved to live. That is all.”

“Narti also wishes to add “ Plus you have a cute face ” to Lotor’s statement.” Axca speaks with a smile.

Lotor’s foot swung out to catch Narti in the stomach, barely missing her when she leaned back. She made a hissing noise with her tongue, yet it surprisingly sounded playful to Lance’s ears. It must have been with the way the other generals laughed.

“You can go now, Lance.” Lotor insisted, more eager to get Lance out of there before his general decided to make more jokes and teases at his expense.

“O..Okay..” Lance blinked. “Well, see you. And.. Thanks for saving me back then.” he says over his shoulder before heading to the elevator. As he left, he saw Ezor nudge Lotor playfully.

He replied by flipping her towards Zethrid, making the two crash onto the ground. Yet the two laughed.

What a strange group...


 

“Ugh, that looks ugly.” untactful, Pidge pointed to the bruise on Shiro’s cheek. “Nasty looking.”

“Let me see.” Hunk huddled behind her to look at their leader. “Ooof, yeah. Did Keith give you that?”

“How did you guess?” Shiro inquired.

“It looks like a Keith punch. We’ve seen a lot of other Galra to know.” they snicker

Shiro nodded, wincing when he tried to smile and stopping when he realized it hurt. “This is going to sting for a while.”

“Probably. He must have really put his back into it.” Hunk says, moving back to his computer to do some work.

“By that point you gotta ask yourself, Did I deserve this…?” Pidge mused, teasing.

Shiro rubbed his cheek, taking the tease more seriously than Pidge intended. After a few minutes of silence, he asked, “Do you think I did?”

“Hmm?”

“Deserve this?”

Pidge’s fingers stopped from their constant typing, pushing up her glasses to give her leader a long look. “That’s hard for me to decide on my own.” she admits.

Shiro’s voice is soft, “You can be honest with me.”

The green paladin nodded, looking over to Hunk to see his opinion. He nodded for her to continue. “Well… kind of. Yes.” she says. “I don’t know what you two argued about before Keith gave you that, but considering what has happened that last few weeks, we all deserve a good punch in the face.”

“Agreed.” Hunk says with a weary sigh.

Shiro felt a heavy feeling in his heart, “I was just trying to make sure they didn’t get hurt.” he says softly.

Hunk gives their leader an understanding look, “I know. But we all took it too far. The only problem is, you still haven’t learned like Pidge and I have.”

“You are being pretty stupid about this.” Pidge bluntly tells their leader.

“I thought you both agreed with me about this.” Shiro sighs, tired.

“Because you had a point then, Shiro,” Hunk tells him. “Before they left, Keith and Lance hated each other. So it made sense to think that they only cared about each other because of the isolation. But then… then I realized something.”

“What?” Shiro asked

“They're different.” Hunk smiles, “They aren't the same people they were before they left. And I know you've noticed this too,”

Shiro had. They all had.

“Keith is… jeez, Keith is open for once. He comes up and talks to me all the time now, Shiro. He's warmer,” Pidge isn't sure how to describe it, “He isn't so somber or stoic anymore. He laughs and jokes…. Lance broke down whatever wall he had up,”

Shiro looks at his feet. He had been so thrilled to see Keith's change lately. He had never managed to get Keith so open with the others beside himself before.

Perhaps then… it wasn’t so much of just worry for the two, but a kind of jealousy? Jealous that Lance had done what he could not in such a short time.

He could be overthinking it, but maybe he wasn’t looking at this from a completely objective kind of standpoint like he claimed to be doing this entire time.

“Lance has changed Keith for the better.” he agreed.

Hunk grinned, “Yeah! And Lance is so… different!”,

“He's grown,” The black paladin nods quietly

“Yes. He has. And we all know why he has,” Pidge gives their leader a pointed look, “They made each other better, Shiro. Maybe before it wouldn't make sense for them to love each other, but now it does, because they aren't the same people they once were.”

It was hard to think that the little boy he had met might be a grown man now. Heavy on his heart he asked to be excused.

He needed to figure out how to make this right...


 

Keith couldn’t deny he wasn’t exactly thrilled to have this talk with Allura. It was something that needed to be done, but he wished it could be avoided.

As he wandered over to the railing towards the side of the room he looked downward to the large drop. You could see most of the other floors from there. Coran had warned them to be careful around this area, simply because at the bottom was the drop to the thrust engines. Definitely wouldn’t want to fall in there if the Castle was on the move. Good thing it was currently parked.

Hunk almost fell into this once when he slipped too close to the edge. And during a wormhole jump no less.

There was so much screaming that day you couldn’t tell who was who.

“Keith.” the Princess’ voice caught him by surprise. He turned to find her standing there, dressed casually for once. She looked terrible, exhausted and like something heavy was troubling her.

“You… okay?” he asked automatically.

Her eyes wavered, not expecting him to be concerned. This then turned to anger.

“I’m fine.” she says quickly, folding her arms. Keith had seen this type of behavior before. Mostly from his own past self. It was easier to hide your worries from others with anger. No one would know how alone or scared you were this way.

“Is there a reason you called me up here..?” he decided to get right to the point, not wanting to prolong this.

“I wished to talk.” Allura says. “I’m assuming you know of what.”

“I do, but my answer is still the same.”

The Princess exhaled, closing her eyes to rub her temples. “I suppose Lance would be the same then.”

His voice is clear and confident, “Yes.”

“Of course it would be for you.” she mumbled, “Considering your DNA. I assume Shiro has spoken to you about this?”

“Didn’t get too detailed on it, but yeah.”

“I see…” Keith straightened when Allura stormed towards him. For some reason, he expected her to slap him. He hadn’t necessarily done anything wrong, today anyway, so he wasn’t sure what she was mad about. Unless it was about his resolve just a moment ago, then yeah, maybe she would be pissed.

When she got into arms distance, instead of reaching up to bruise his face, she grabbed his hand. Holding his wrist tightly in her palm, she lifted it upward.

Keith didn’t sense a threat from this action, not even sure what her end game was.

Then he felt it.

The slip of something precious from his finger.

His Equivalent band.

Keith barely had time to react before Allura was stepping back, holding the ring between her fingers like it was the most disgusting thing she had ever held. “This,” she growls, holding it up high when he moved to retrieve it.

Keith froze, eyeing the ring frantically. “Give it back,” he commands, his voice dark. “Allura, give that back to me right now.”

“This represents, as you say, Equivalents on that planet Lance and you were on, yes?” Allura twirls the ring, mocking him. Keith feels that it is cruel.

He doesn’t answer her, and instead extends on his palm, “Give it back,” he repeats. “That’s mine.”

“Lance gave this to you,” it wasn’t a question, but he answered like it was.
“Yes, he did, now give it back. It’s important to me,” Keith steps forward and Allura steps back. Keith starts to panic when Allura’s calculated stare, void of its normal shine, extended her palm over the railing, threatening to drop the band. His mind runs into overtime, words bubbling from his mouth, “Allura dont! D-Dont! Please!”

“I don’t know how many times I have to inform you of this Keith before you understand… Lovers, romance, equivalents, are forbidden between paladins.” She spoke the same thing she had been saying for weeks. But, if she wondered what good would it do?

She had acted without thinking, taking the ring and using it to put a threat over Keith’s head. But why? Why was she doing this? She didn’t want to, yet her body moved on its own. She came to talk to Keith about… what was it about anyway? Why did she summon him here? She already knew what was going to happen.

Coran had made it very clear, there was no going back for Keith when it came to Lance. The signs were everywhere, and after her own research, she had come to agree with what Coran had concluded. Keith’s genes connected him to Lance. If separated from him, he would surely die. So what was she even doing right now?

She hadn’t planned this when coming up here, yet here she was anyway.

“The code…” she felt herself say, the words bubbling up from her chest. The code was irrelevant to a genetic bond. It was irrelevant….

Her mind focused on Keith again.

“Allura!’ he screams, “T-That isn’t- please!” he almost crumbles to his knees, never so desperate in his life. “I’ll do anything you ask just- don’t let that go!”

“Keith…” she watched him crumble as easily as sand at her feet. All over a simple ring. Was it really so precious to him? Would her own Father be this way for the ring he wore on his finger from her mother?

Her father never spoke of her mother, having lost her when Allura was young. In an accident…

Her mother never came back. Her father had changed, grown colder. A new law was suddenly added to the paladin code and nothing was ever the same.

“I want us all to go back to how we were before you both went missing,” she says wistfully, but knows it will never be. “I have to follow the rules set by my Father. If I don’t-” her eyebrows narrow in distress. The past would repeat itself, right? Her father would be angry with her. Her father would get so angry…

Flashes of her past came back, threatening to overwhelm her. It was painful, mirroring the agony bearing down in Keith’s gaze.

“If I don’t things will go bad.” she stammered. “People will die and Father will be angry. I’ll lose everyone….”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” Keith says weakly, his voice quiet, his eyes flickering from her to the ring she held over the side. “I can’t let go of, Lance. I can’t, Allura!”

Keith wondered what had happened? What horrible thing occurred that would form this rule in the first place? What made Allura stand there, quivering in place like she was staring at the scariest thing her life?

“Allura please just-” his voice cracks and her resolve wavers. “That is important to me, please. Please please,”

Allura had never heard Keith beg. Had never seen him so desperate for anything in his life. In that moment, Allura realized something terrifying.

Keith shared her Father’s eyes.

She had seen this look before, over 10,000 years ago when her Father had reached out to Zarkon one final time before he had begun his attack on the Universe. He pleaded with him to stop, hoping that their friendship would be enough to convince him not to do this.

Zarkon didn’t listen and in her Father’s heart, they had truly said goodbye, friends no more.

In Keith’s eyes, she was… she was Zarkon.

Stumbling back, his feet wobbly, Allura felt like sobbing. When had things come to this? When had her mind grown so clouded with some code? All her childhood, it had been drilled into her mind by her Father- who’s gaze was distant, a deep regret seeped into his voice.

He had threatened her with death over this code. Her, the fragile age of seven, told by her parent that if she dared disobey this simple code, all would be lost.

She believed him, like all children believed their parents, and carried that belief all the way till now. Some part of her felt if she went against it, her Father would never forgive her. She would lose everything like he said she would.

But wasn’t she already losing the people she cared about by following it?

Nothing had been so important to Alfor than this code, using it as a shield to fight against the past. But maybe that was a lie to shield himself from his own heartbreak…

“I… Quiznack..” Allura’s back pressed to the railing, “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Keith eyes her cautiously, his breathing coming out choppy as he eyes her hand. She follows his gaze, admiring the ring in her palm. Now that she properly looked at it, she realized it was beautiful.

“Here,” she extends her hand out to him, hoping to give it back to him.

He bolts forward to retrieve it. Once he has it in his hands he backs away, clutching it to his heart. He kept his eyes on her, his guard on high alert.

Allura stood still, slowly staring at her hands in horror before turning and fleeing out of sight. It was over now. In his mind, he knew Allura had just given up this fight with the code. She would never bring it up against them again. He should have felt happy… but he didn’t.

He made no move to stop her from running away. Instead he still clutched his ring tight at his chest, shielding it from any other things that dare harm it.

Unable to think of anything else to do, he ran down the hall.

He barrelled down the steps, through doors, rushing into the training room where the others were waiting for him. It was awfully quiet inside, mostly awkward until he arrived. No one knew what to say with how tight things had gotten between Shiro and Keith.

“Keith.” Shiro says. “Good, I’m glad you’re here. Listen, I wanted to apologize for-”

Whatever he had been about to say it was cut off when Keith flung himself into Lance. Tackled to the ground, Lance gagged in shock.

“Keith…??”

The red paladin trembled, burying his face into Lance’s shoulder to shield it from view. “K-Keith?” Lance’s voice softened. “Hey. Hey, what happened?”
The others rushed around him, but Keith couldn’t mouth a single word. So he clung to Lance with all his might.

Despite their best efforts, he never told them what happened. To him, this moment with Allura was something he wanted to keep to himself. He wasn’t even sure why he would bother keeping something so big a secret.

He just felt like it should be.

Something that only the two of them should remember for the rest of their lives. Both her threat, her realization, and her broken apology.

It was strange, he could see regret in her eyes the moment she had taken the ring from him. As if she didn’t even believe in what she was doing anymore, she just didn’t know how to stop it.

It was only because of that did he decide he didn’t hate her.

He just… he needed time. When he returned to his room with Lance, he asked to be alone for a while. Lance was startled, but was understanding. His smile was kind, and lips soft against Keith’s forehead when he gave it a kiss.

“I’m not far when you need me, okay.”

Keith nodded, stepping into his room to be alone.


 

 Zaheen has spent the last 24 hours convincing himself that just because Lotor was in the area, it shouldn’t change any of his schedule. He just needed to work as he always did and focus on aiding the coalition.

It didn’t matter if Lotor was just a few floors above. Lotor has his place and Zaheen had his. Their roles to play in this war were vastly different. They were vastly different.

So someone explain to him why he’s been rolling his wheelchair in circles around the Voltron castle in hopes of seeing a glimpse of the prince in question?!

He was still in holding, so obviously he wouldn’t. Plus, his actions contradict his words just a moment ago.

What in the world was he hoping for? Some… tearful reunion? Even just a semblance of recognition from Lotor to show that he remembered him, even just a little?

He had to stop giving himself false hope. Nothing would change even if by chance Lotor recalled him.

Sighing, he rolled himself forward, parking his wheelchair to look out to the sunset. Its orange hue warmed his skin, a prickling shiver running down his spine. He rubbed his arms, leaning back to relax for the first time in a few days.

Of all the times to take his first break it was to pointlessly stake out Voltron’s castle. You better at least make some use of it.

“Ah~! Zaheen!”

An all too familiar voice called to him from afar. He recognized it immediately, regretting all choices of stepping out of his safe hole underground. No sun there yeah, but there was also no Slav.

“Slav.” he turned his wheelchair, attempting a friendly smile. “I didn’t think you’d still be here.”
“Official Coalition member.” Slav says, “You think I’d go out there when that maniac still aims for my head?” he scoffed.

Assuming he meant Zarkon, Zaheen shrugged, “Well, I’m sure the coalition is happy to have you to help. I noticed a few of your improvements around the city. Even our systems for supply transportation seems to have improved.”

“Ah yes, quite easy.” he nods his head, slithering his body over to examine Zaheen. “You, however, my friend, not so much.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your legs. 2 metal legs! More than 1! It increases your chances of survival through this war by 80%! Yet, your lack of using said legs decrease it by 90%!!” he wailed.

“Not much I can do about that, Slav.” Zaheen reminded him. “It’s not as though we have any containers of spare quintessence laying around.”

“Sadly, no.” the genius agreed. He gives Zaheen a long and pointed look, “Perhaps we could increase those chances without it.”

Zaheen jabbed a finger in his direction, “Oh no no, I can see that look in your eye. I’m not letting you touch them.” he turned his body, and more specifically, his legs, out of view. “I’m done with people trying to improve my body. I’m fine being in this chair, thank you.”

“Are you really?’ Slav’s eyes widened. “Stuck in that wheeled sitting contraption all day. Craning your neck during every conversation with someone.” he rubbed his neck at the thought. “Sounds terrible. And with this tacky design too.” he moved the blanket to motion to the simplistic look the legs had. “Ugh, so 10 years ago.” he shook his head.

Zaheen swatted his hands away. “Go away, Slav.”

“Alright fine. Just know your chances of neck cramps are 98% more likely stuck in that chair! Yet only 2% likely in another reality where you agree to get out of that chair..!” he warned, scampering off

Watching the crazed little alien runoff, Zaheen was surprised in himself for considering his words. The Blade didn’t exactly have the equipment, time, or full knowledge on the matter to give him a different pair of legs over the ones Haggar made.

Slav did, however. Could he… give him new legs?

Zaheen was in no way eager to get back onto an operating table after what he went through. But if he could get new legs, ones perhaps no operated by quintessence… or even used his own, perhaps he could walk again…?

It was a heavy thought that he couldn’t seem to just cast aside.

If he did ever see Lotor again… he would want to be standing before him. He wouldn’t want to be in this chair.