As slim fingers curled around Shiro’s hand, drawing him forward, Shiro thought he might be dreaming.
Heavens knew he had dreamed something like this plenty of times before, had been for a year, but something about this felt... real. Solid. And when he bit his lip, trying to keep from grinning too hard, the pressure from his teeth stung.
He laughed softly as Keith dragged him through the Castle, curling up obediently on the couch in the lounge Keith had finally decided would suffice for their reunion.
“I missed you so much,” Keith breathed, reaching up to take Shiro’s face in his hands, thumbs tracing down his cheeks. Shiro’s face hurt from smiling, and he lifted his own hands to place them over Keith’s. “The next time you decide to spend a year taking on missions separate from me, I’m gonna kick your ass and tie you to the bed myself.”
“Kinky,” Shiro murmured, leaning in, unable to resist a wistful kiss, pressing his mouth to Keith’s. “Trust me, if I ever try to do something stupid like that again, I’ll let you.”
Keith moaned and leaned into Shiro, flinging his arms around his neck, and Shiro pulled him close. Keith settled in Shiro’s lap as if it hadn’t been a year since he had been there last. Whenever one pressed, the other pressed harder; Shiro wanted to meld into Keith, curl around him, take his hand and never let him go.
“You look older,” Keith grumbled, when they finally pulled apart. But the soft expression on his face belied tenderness, and he couldn’t hide the fondness in his voice. “I don’t like the thought of you getting older without me.”
“And I promise, I have no more plans to age another day without you by my side,” Shiro murmured, intent, as he brushed a strand of hair out of Keith’s face.
Keith’s hair had grown some, but Shiro couldn’t tell by quite how much, as the entire pile had been pulled up into a messy bun. It suited him. Made him look... older. The thought left a pang of wistfulness fluttering in Shiro’s chest.
But not too much had changed, given the way Keith was now turning a particularly adorable shade of pink.
“Shut up,” Keith muttered, reaching out to yank on a lock of Shiro’s own hair. “You don’t have the right to go and be all... sappy and shit.”
Shiro’s own hair had ended up an impressive length as well, and he felt more than a little silly about it. A series of missions throughout the past year, back to back with a rare night spent at the Castle, combined with the fact that the task became less manageable the longer he put it off meant that after a year of this mess, the hair that he had been able to tie into a short ponytail had grown nearly down to his mid-back.
He needed a trim.
But for now, he had more important things to worry about. He batted away Keith’s hands, leaning in again and pressing their lips together.
“I missed you,” he murmured, for what had to be the hundredth time. He meant it more every time he said it.
“I know,” Keith murmured back, nuzzling into Shiro’s jaw as they leaned back on the couch together, twining like vines.
Shiro reacquainted himself with the castle over the rest of the day. With his return, the only lion still away was Blue, and Lance was slated to return within the next few weeks. For the first time in a year, all the Paladins of Voltron would be together again.
Since Zarkon’s defeat some years ago, Shiro had determined that the presence of the Paladins as peacekeepers was now more important than their combined strength as a weapon. As a strategic move, it had worked brilliantly: the power vacuums left in the wake of the crumbling Galra Empire had been curbed significantly, and many once-enslaved planets had, with their assistance, been able to rebuild their societies and begin to flourish once more.
As a personal move, it had completely tanked his love life. Due to conflicting schedules and unsettlingly regular emergencies, he hadn’t seen his boyfriend in a year. He fully intended on luxuriating in a nice, long bath together the first moment he got the chance.
But for now, a shower had to do. He needed to scrub himself of space, and Keith needed to see to repairs on Red. Much as Keith would have liked to treat both of those as “together” activities, he eventually acquiesced with the gentle reminder that if they finished their work separately, they would have more time to spend alone together.
And so Shiro found himself staring at his reflection in the mirror, lower lip sticking out slightly in annoyance, hair detangled and wet, ready for the chopping. He picked up the scissors, then frowned. Cutting loose hair alone would be a nightmare. He would need something else, too.
Of course, finding that thing quickly proved to be more of a challenge than he was expecting. The dresser, the bathroom, the desk all proved to be completely fruitless, and it was with a dawning realization that it clicked where they had all gone.
Shiro smiled faintly. Keith was worse than a cat, always carrying off hair ties.
Keith opened the door almost instantly when Shiro knocked, and Shiro almost jumped. The sight of Keith blinking owlishly up at him, however, left him smiling.
“Hey.” Shiro wished fervently that he had a better vocabulary, could think better on his feet in situations like this, sound witty and charming and—
“Hey,” Keith replied, with one of those treasured grins.
Shiro felt a little better as he stepped inside.
One of them, of course, decided that it would be a brilliant idea to sneak a kiss, and the other soon followed, beginning a vicious cycle of hands around waists, lips on necks, on collarbones, on mouths, of nuzzles and giggles and sighs of contentment, of hums and forehead bumps and fingers through hair—
Hair. Shiro hadn’t just come here to make out! He pulled back, supporting Keith as he lost his balance.
“Keith!” he laughed, despite himself, as Keith continued to chase Shiro’s mouth with his own. “I came here for a reason!”
“You mean besides this?” Keith finally pulled back, face wrinkling in a scowl. Shiro had never encountered something more difficult to resist than the prospect of kissing it off his face. “Fine. What is it, and is it fast? I want to get back to—”
“Okay, okay!” Shiro laughed again, waving a hand. “Just, all of my ponytail holders have gone missing.”
Shiro didn’t miss the vague guilt that crept across Keith’s face, and he suppressed a smile at the realization that his suspicions of their whereabouts hadn’t been unfounded.
“I was just wondering if I could borrow one of yours.”
Keith relaxed visibly. “What? Oh, yeah. Sure.” He headed to the bathroom, and Shiro followed.
“You can keep it, y’know.” Keith pressed one into Shiro’s hand. “I’ve got plenty. I can give you more, if you want.”
“I appreciate it,” Shiro began, tying his hair into a low tail, “but I won’t need them for much longer.” Dropping the ponytail, he reached into his waistband, plucking out a pair of scissors.
Shiro froze, hand midway to chopping off the ponytail, eyes wide at Keith’s frantic tone. “What?”
“What are you doing?” Keith blurted, reaching out to shove the arm holding the scissors away from Shiro’s head.
“Cutting... my hair.” Shiro allowed his arm to be pushed, blinking slowly, baffled. “I figured that was obvious.”
“No!” Keith tugged the scissors out of Shiro’s loose grip, scowl deepening. “Are you kidding? I don’t get to see you for a year—again—having to settle for audio comms, and then when you finally do get back, you look like some drop dead gorgeous pagan god who I would beg to be a human sacrifice for—”
“—so I figure, okay, clearly I’m owed some karmic good for putting up with this crap. I’ll take it. But then you want to cut it?”
Shiro took in this extraordinary statement for a few moments, turning to look in the mirror. It looked strange to him, yes, but he had never considered that it might be appealing, too.
“But it’s so... long,” he protested.
“Yeah, exactly.” Keith reached out to let the hair down, and Shiro allowed it. “And it looks great.”
Shiro did have to admit that the sensation of Keith’s fingers running through it felt pretty great, too. And Keith’s own longer hair did completely suit him, but...
“But it’s so thick,” he protested, pouting a little. “And in the way, and it gets hot, and tangled, and takes so long to wash...”
He couldn’t continue, not when faced with Keith’s pleading expression. The two of them faced each other at a standstill, each clearly distressed.
Keith finally sagged. “Okay, okay. It’s your hair.” He hesitated, then bit his lip, adorable enough for Shiro to ask, “What is it?”
“I... maybe... okay, I have an idea that might... well, work. Maybe you could give it a try?” Keith’s spirits seemed to lift slightly. “If it doesn’t work, it’ll be easy enough to put it back to how you used to wear it. And I can help you. Cutting hair is a pain when you do it alone.”
“You have a point, there.” Besides, Shiro couldn’t say no to that face. “What do I need to do?”
Keith brightened, pulling in a chair for Shiro to sit. Standing behind him, Keith pulled Shiro’s hair back along his temples, pulling it into a half ponytail, leaving the bottom hanging free. Keith picked up the scissors and began to cut.
As the hair fell to the ground, Shiro breathed a sigh of relief. Its weight vanished, leaving him lightheaded, and having Keith’s hands on him was an extra bonus. Shiro sank into the tactile sensation as the fingers carded through the shorter hair, still damp, fluffing it out.
Then Keith picked up the razor and began to buzz, gently sliding it up over Shiro’s neck and the lower part of his skull. Before much longer, Keith had trimmed the underside to the close-cropped length it had been before.
Though the top portion of his hair, still in a ponytail, remained long, the weight of the hair already seemed to be nothing. He tossed his head, just to test it out, and found that he liked the difference. When a hand ran up the back of his head, feeling the fuzz there, Shiro looked up to see Keith grinning at him in the mirror.
“You like?” he asked, eyes catching Shiro’s.
Shiro glanced away to take a good look at himself now that the deed was done.
The remaining hair, his white streak included, pulled away from his face at the temples to show off the undercut. Keith reached out to tug the lock of white hair free from the high ponytail, letting it fall and frame Shiro’s face.
It made him look... more mature, but less old. Not quite as military; more laid back. Almost rebellious, even.
He had to admit that it looked pretty darn good.
“I think I do.” He turned his head from side to side, admiring the style from all angles. Lifting his arms, he pulled out the hair, letting it fall. All of the look, so much less of the weight.
“Yeah. I definitely do.” He grinned at his reflection in the mirror. “I’ll keep it. For a while, at the very least.”
“Good.” Keith reached around to pluck the hair-tie from Shiro’s fingers, kissing his temple. “I thought you might.”
Shiro leaned back and let Keith card his fingers through Shiro’s hair, humming softly at the sensation. After a little bit, Keith began to gather it for a braid, then secured it with the tie. Shiro preferred the tail himself, but the braid had its own charm.
Eventually, however, he stood abruptly, turning to scoop up Keith in his arms and walk out of the bathroom.
After his initial squawk, Keith began to struggle and protest. “Shiro! We need to clean up your hair!”
“Do it later.” Shiro’s tone was completely dismissive as he dumped Keith onto the bed, then flopped down on top of him, sprawling casually.
“Oaf. Get off of me, you big oaf!” Keith smacked at Shiro’s shoulder, but to no success. “C’mon! That’s not playing fair!”
Shiro, chin resting on the top of Keith’s head, closed his eyes and let out a loud snore.
“I hate you.”
“I know you do.”
“You’re gonna wake up and I’m going to have shaved your head bald.”
“You’ve established that you’d be the one to suffer the most, in that case.”
“I’ll put plastic wrap over your toilet.”
“We share a house with Lance. I already check every time I use one.”
Temporarily stymied, Keith sagged back onto the bed, panting. He reached out to tickle Shiro’s side, an old trick, but rendered useless in the year between Shiro’s visit to Kerberos and his return to Earth. He simply lay there, wondering when Keith would remember—
Shiro could just feel the pouting in his voice. He grinned.
And then he let out a heavy long suffering sigh. “Well, since you asked so nicely...”
Keith wriggled in anticipation, and Shiro rolled off of him. As expected, Keith immediately pounced. Shiro had his arms ready to catch him. They tussled for a few minutes until they ended up with Keith curled demandingly in Shiro’s arms, kissing lazily. They traded pecks and nuzzles for a bit as well, simply reveling in the novelty of contact, and as Shiro leaned forward, Keith’s neck and cheek scraped against the stubble of Shiro’s jaw.
Shiro hummed. While the sensation was only odd to him, he could only imagine how it must be prickling Keith. He didn’t have it in him to do anything about it right now, but maybe later...
“I really should think about shaving, too—”
With a suddenness that, for the second time in so many Vargas, had Shiro almost jumping, Keith yanked back, scowling down at Shiro. “No way! C’mon, you’re gonna leave me parched here.”
“All right, all right. No shaving for now.”
“Good.” With a contented sigh, Keith reached up, twirling the white lock of hair around his finger.
Really, Shiro couldn’t even begin to fathom the depths of Keith’s eccentricities. But if such small things were enough to make him happy...
Well, Shiro was happy to oblige. And if changes to his hair got this much of a response, he couldn’t wait to see how Keith reacted to the tattoo.