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Sheith Month 2k18

Chapter Text

The last conversation Shiro had with the Black Lion was one of sacrifice. In order for Shiro to live, to return to the physical world, their bond must go with him. If Shiro were to live, it would no longer be as the pilot of the Black Lion and the Black Paladin of Voltron.

He’d existed as pieces of soul fragment for months inside the Black Lion, only coming together to form something approaching whole when Keith became the Black Lion’s pilot, their connection strong enough to wake up both him and Black from the coma the fight with Zarkon had put them in.

When Keith left and gave up the Black Lion to the imposter, Shiro’s ethereal world had started to splinter at the seams. He had more awareness than the period of time after Zarkon but it was fraught - so much energy was required to do more than just float inside the Black Lion’s consciousness.

When the team had briefly pulled their energy together to enter Voltron’s mindspace, Shiro had taken his chance - but it wasn’t enough. Without Keith, it would never be enough.

So when Keith took up piloting the Black Lion again, the shock of being pulled back together was like being in the centre of a star going supernova. He was a ghost, still - but a corporeal one. A ghost that could talk and touch and guide Keith into unlocking Black’s wings. Guide him to the rest of the team in order form Voltron.

It would be him and Black’s last flight together. Their final fight.

There was a sadness shared between them as their end as Lion and Paladin drew near. Shiro didn’t know how - he didn’t know the how of a lot things that had happened to him - but he could sense it on the hazy purple horizon nonetheless. Profound grief shook Shiro to his metaphysical core.

Yet there was a light beyond the horizon of his and Black’s time together. Keith.

Keith would be there. As he’d always been.

And if Shiro trusted anyone to take up the mantle of Black Paladin, it was Keith.

Years ago, Shiro had trusted Keith to take the opportunity Shiro offered to him by vouching for him at the Garrison. Most had called it a gamble, a risk - Shiro called it a leap of faith. He didn’t need to leap anymore. Faith in Keith was something Shiro had transcribed into his very being, the very essence of himself, something that even transcended his physical body.

Years later, Shiro trusted Keith with his life, with his death, with his heart.

Trusting him with Black was a foregone conclusion and one that Shiro couldn’t ever regret.

Chapter Text

The second time Shiro woke up after being brought back to life, it was with a headache splitting his skill down the middle.

 

His throat creaked like broken metal as groaned himself awake. Nerves were alight with sensation in this old-new body of his - his fingers and toes buzzed with pins and needles. Shiro’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the ambient violet light of must be the Black Lion - the rumbling warmth of their bond was gone, the quintessence lighting its path having been drawn out by Allura with the rest of his soul.

 

Maybe that was the reason for the pounding headache. Either that, or it was the startling presence of two sets of memories crowding his head. His own, the floating and intangible limbo of the Black Lion’s astral plane, and the clone’s, his time as a member of Voltron as its Black Paladin. Or was that his, now, too? Maybe the headache was the collision of him and the clone into one, and his consciousness was still trying to catch up with itself.

 

It was all too existential for having just woken up from being resurrected.

 

Shiro wanted a moment to recognise that he was alive again - alive and breathing. Physical . Painful as it was, the headache was a reminder he was back in the land of the physical and he was grateful.

 

There was a heavy weight holding down his legs, and Shiro glanced down to see what his new memories told him was Keith’s cosmic wolf, electric blue and peacefully asleep. He was in the belly of the Black Lion, he could tell, and someone had kitted out a relatively large corner with some pillows and blankets that were keeping him - clad only in the bodysuit of the paladin armour - warm.

 

He had no idea how long they’d been travelling for but he was hoping to find out before sleep took him under again, exhaustion still holding his body hostage as much he felt better than he had in - God knows long, really. The astral plane was a yawning void in the back of his consciousness, one being layered over by the memories experienced by this body but there nonetheless, infinite and celestial.

 

“You’re awake,” Keith’s quiet, steady voice interrupted Shiro’s thoughts and it was a testament to how tired he was that he hadn’t heard Keith climbing down into the Black Lion’s belly. Then again, Keith was quiet before and now he seemed to have mastered the skill of silence.

 

Marmora training , Shiro’s new memories told him as an image of Keith in the sleek purple uniform of the Blades flared to life in his memory, hooded and glowing.   

 

“How are you feeling?” Keith asked as he approached Shiro’s makeshift bedside, crouching down. Shiro used as much core muscle as he could to sit up and leant his body on his one arm - the wolf snuffled but slept on.

 

Up close, Shiro could see the changes his clone had gotten - he had gotten embarrassingly flustered over. He and the clone were one in the same, now, and Shiro would deal with the implications of that later. For now, Keith was older and beautiful and scarred, and the sight of him helped Shiro’s mind make more sense of itself. Even for the clone, time was partially measured in terms of being with or without Keith.

 

His hair was so long now, and the scar Shiro had given him was stark and red across his cheek but healing quickly, it’s edges oddly straight due to the razor-thin edge of the energy blade. Pain flared briefly behind his eyes as the reddish-purple memory flashed across his awareness.

 

“Tired,” Shiro said like a confession, “but better. Not dead.” Maybe not the time but morbid humour was a coping mechanism of his and he thinks he managed something approaching an apologetic smile, as Keith’s lips quirked reluctantly upwards in reply, even though his eyes and the frown between them stayed distinctly worried.  

 

“You’ve been through a lot,” Keith said in that soft, newly-assured voice of his, the rasp of it dragging across Shiro’s currently sensitive hearing and making his ears tingle. “You need rest. I can stay with you, if you want? Krolia - Mom’s up top and Black’s on autopilot.”

 

“That,” Shiro paused as he worked through the urge to decline, to push Keith away and deal with his troubles as alone, something that was necessary when he younger but - not necessary now. Not with Keith, never with Keith. “Would be nice. I have a bit of a headache, actually - I think it’s the clone’s memories trying to settle with mine. Something like that, anyway.”

 

“You - remember?” Keith said, hesitant as got more comfortable on the floor, crossing his legs under him. It reminded of him when Keith would sit on the floor of Shiro’s Garrison dorm room, when he tutored him in the early days, and then when they just hung out in the later ones. The memory of something that was truly his was comforting.   

 

“Bits and pieces,” Shiro admitted carefully. “My head’s still -”

 

“Pretty scrambled?” Keith finished for him, and the sunlit memory of the morning of Shiro’s return to Earth made something in his chest float.

 

“Seems to be a theme,” Shiro wryly acknowledged, leaning his head back against the cool metal of Black’s hull, which eased the ache in his head. Keith’s presence alone was helping to smooth over the coalescence of his jumbled memories. Maybe it’d take awhile for them to feel like his memories - but they were getting there. “How long have we been flying?”

 

“About a quintant, maybe a little more,” Keith said, his right thumb rubbing gently against his index finger. An old soothing habit, Shiro knew. “I didn’t think you’d wake up so soon. Not that I’m not glad you’re -”

 

“It’s okay, Keith,” Shiro lightly interrupted, and a slight flush showed up on the rise of Keith’s cheeks. Keith had changed and Shiro was alight with the possibilities of that change- but he was still Keith. “I’ll probably fall back asleep, soon.”

 

Sooner than soon, Shiro felt the dark tendrils of sleep grasping at him again but he was determined to keep his eyes on Keith a little longer, the Black Lion’s violet light shining in Keith’s dark eyes, as starlit as the astral plane itself. More beautiful, even, as Keith was solid and warm and real.  

 

“That’s okay,” Keith said softly, “I’ll be here.”

 

Shiro let the unshakeable promise imbed itself in his chest before he carried it with him back into dreamless sleep.    

Chapter Text

Sandwiches were a revelation.

 

Being back on Earth, a lot of things were. The heat of the sun he’d spent over twenty years orbiting around, air that moved perfectly through his lungs, gravity that held him down just right. It was the simple fundamentals of life on Earth you came to appreciate after being out in the far reaches of the universe for so long, surrounded by war and alien species Shiro couldn’t have dreamt of when he’d first accepted to offer to pilot the Kerberos mission.

 

Air. Gravity. Sandwiches.

 

Shiro was sat on the porch of Keith’s old shack, the sun perched low and orange on the desert horizon. Him and Keith had come out here together after days spent at the Garrison, explaining Voltron, the war spread out across the known universe - Sam had filled them on most details after he’d arrived back on Earth but there was some things only the Paladins of Voltron could explain.

 

The peace and quiet offered by Keith’s shack out in the desert was welcome. And Keith had wanted to check on his Dad’s old bike and bring it back to the Garrison, as much for himself as for Krolia. Thankfully, it had been in as good condition as one could expect, most likely thanks to the trap Keith had elected to throw over it before they’d gone searching for flying Blue Lions.

 

They’d bought deli sandwiches from the town that neighboured the Garrison, stuffed with meat and salad, wrapped in brown paper. Shiro took another bite and savoured the taste of food from Earth, made by people from Earth who’d never tasted Altean food goo or Galra rations.

 

The creak of the wood behind him made Shiro turn his head to see Keith exiting the shack, a glass of water in each hand. His dark hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he was in casual Earth clothes, a plain white t-shirt and a worn pair of jeans. The scar had long-healed during their journey back to Earth, faded to a pink not unlike Shiro’s own scar. In the dying light of the desert sun, Keith was something beyond beautiful.

 

 “Took me a while to get the taps to run clean water,” Keith said, shrugging his shoulders a little before he sat down beside Shiro, his body a close line of warmth against Shiro’s side. He set down the glasses by their feet and took his own sandwich from Shiro’s lap.

 

 “Dust everywhere?” Shiro asked idly, doing his best to drag his gaze away from Keith’s gilded profile. The sunset wasn’t quite as beautiful as it had been before.

 

 “You bet,” Keith sighed, a half-laugh tacked onto the end of it. He took a bite of his sandwich and groaned appreciatively.

 

Shiro coughed and reached for his glass of water.

 

 “Y’know, I wasn’t sure we’d ever make it back here,” Keith said, breaking the fragile silence. “Back to Earth.”  

 

 “No?” Shiro replied lightly after taking a sip of water, encouraging Keith to continue. He’d felt the same but he imagined his reasoning was more morbid - and technically, more accurate - than Keith’s.

 

 “No,” Keith echoed, “whether because the war seemed so insurmountable sometimes, like maybe it’d never end, or when I decided to leave for the Blades, a part of me thought that would be it...Earth seemed so far away, and sometimes, the stars and the far reaches of space felt more home to me than Earth had. Guess I was wrong.” Keith took another bite of his sandwich, and then chewed slowly.

 

Shiro set down his water and mulled over Keith’s words for a moment before asking the question that had started to burn in his throat.

 

 “Wrong about what?”

 

Keith turned his head to make eye contact with Shiro, and no matter what or how long it’d been, his breath still caught at the steadfast calm that now lived behind Keith’s indigo eyes.  

 

 “What home is to me,” Keith admitted quietly. “My home is - well, it’s you, Shiro. It’s you at the Garrison, or eating a sandwich with you at this rundown shack, or when we’re piloting a giant quasi-sentient robot together at the furthest reaches of the universe.”

 

Something like a smile tugged at the edges of Keith’s mouth. There was no expectation in Keith’s gaze - just that burning honesty that had always held him captive, that told Shiro that Keith was telling him this not because he expected something in return, but because he wanted Shiro to know.

 

Shiro swallowed and had to hold back from giving into the urge to grab Keith’s face with his only hand and kiss the living daylights out of him. The moment felt a little too fragile, a little too new, for that. Not yet , Shiro told himself.

 

Yet . That was a word that could hold a lifetime full of hope in its three little letters.

 

 “You’re my home, too,” Shiro finally managed to say, averting his gaze as he picked up a piece of peppered beef that had fallen out of his sandwich and putting it back in-between the bread. It was inadequate, really, after all that Keith had done for him - and there was so many things that Shiro wanted to say to Keith, things that had entangled themselves inside his heart over the years that Shiro didn’t know where to begin untying those complicated knots.

 

He tried anyway.

 

  “After all I’ve been through, after all we’ve been through, there’s...no place safer for me than being by your side. No place I’d rather be. The best place I can be is with you.”

 

Shiro looked up, and Keith’s face was a revelation, his eyes soft and shimmering, the smile on his face small but special. A smile just for Shiro and he knew to recognise that as the privilege that it was. Something brushed against his hand, and Shiro jolted a little with the realisation that it was Keith’s hand, gently trying to entwine their fingers. His hand was both a little sweaty from the heat, and a little greasy from the sandwich, but Shiro couldn’t have asked for anything better. But -

 

 “You’re gonna have to feed me the rest of my sandwich if you wanna keep this up,” Shiro pointed out, wry but no unkind. If he was honest, he’d give up a thousand deli sandwiches if it meant holding Keith’s hand.

 

Keith’s eyes narrowed playfully as he replied, “I think that can be arranged.”  

Chapter Text

After his Dad died, Keith’s life sunk itself into shades of black and white, like those ancient movies his Dad always put on when the dust storms rolled in and they couldn’t go outside.

 

 "Your mother loved these,” Keith remembered his Dad quietly sharing one evening, and he’d grasped hold of the knowledge in two tight mental fists, because his Dad rarely talked about his Mom, and the spare occasions he did, sadness usually followed. “Movies weren’t a big thing where she was from.”

 

Where was she from, Dad? Keith had always wanted to ask but had never managed to push the words and their painful question mark past his throat. Now he’d never get the chance, a lifetime of wondering ahead of him.

 

Where was she from? What was her name? Tell me her name, Dad. Did she look like me? i don’t look like you. What was she like? Why did she leave? Is she coming back? Is she - is she - is she -

 

So many questions. No longer anyone around to answer them.

 

His Dad had been - quiet. Good, firm, brave - but quiet. They’d lived out in the desert and they got by. They’d loved each other, and sometimes, that was enough.

 

The home was a nightmare. Keith wasn’t used to so many people, even if it wasn’t that many people at all at five adults and fourteen kids, not including him. He’d grown up in the desert with a single father, and the nearest town was 50 strong and mostly occupied by Garrison employees, the local pre-school held in the town’s community centre.

 

In contrast, the home was loud, messy, and Keith was a scrawny little thing, so he was easy pickings for the bigger boys in the home who wanted to work out their own anger issues. Problem for them, Keith tended to punch back with a strength that didn’t make sense for his size.

 

Days bled into each other, then weeks, then years and before Keith knew it, he was a few weeks shy of fifteen and his life had been in greyscale for close to the same amount of time it’d been the dusky oranges of the desert and the dark blue of his father’s eyes.

 

Enter Takashi Shirogane.

 

It was a month into Keith’s tenth grade, and it was college week, something that Keith had no interest in because the amount of marks on his record for this, that, and that other thing would scare off any colleges Keith tried to apply too anyway. The only thing that held interest to Keith was flying, even if he legally shouldn’t be flying anything.

 

His Dad’s hoverbike was bright red (white accents, 21” hover rims, 400cc engine, max. hover capacity at 4.5ft) and kept Keith’s world from slipping into darkness.

 

They’d brought in a guest speaker today - a young, tall guy dressed a little uncomfortably in Galaxy Garrison grey-green looking to recruit bright young minds. Him and his Dad had lived fairly close to the Garrison and the memory of it was too painful to spend time on, so Keith turned away from the handsome Garrison officer who talked smoothly about the potential and possibilities offered by the Garrison, of astro exploration, of flying.  

 

Keith tried his best to tune him out. It was pointless to consider.

 

Yet when the same Takashi Shirogane caught Keith out in desert doing illegal tricks on his Dad’s bike (this time with a leather jacket in place of the Garrison uniform, and his posture relaxed and friendly like Keith imagined an older brother might be, and not in the stiff and proper stance of an officer on duty), he was struck almost dumb by the warmth in Shiro’s smile and the promise of opportunity in steel grey eyes.

 

When Keith said he’d think about it and Shiro gave him a number to call if Keith’s thinking led to a yes, or even a no, you’ve got skills, kid, maybe I could learn a thing or two from you, which was ridiculous but it was the first time someone had acknowledged anything about Keith that didn’t led to him sitting outside of the office someone of authority who didn’t care about him since his Dad died.

 

And when the desert clouds passed and let the setting sun shine through, the world unfurled in desert oranges, the black and brown of Takashi Shirogane’s leather jacket, the bright white of his smile - as if Shiro was emitting a bright eternal light all his own, a light that kept Keith warm the entire ride back to the home.   

Chapter Text

The end of the war, as horrible as it might sound, came too suddenly for both Shiro and Keith.

 

Relieved it was over, yes, happy - beyond that; ecstatic - to have finally triumphed over the death grip the Galra Empire had had on the known universe, of course: but unprepared for the silence that followed the end of the war.

 

They’d spent so long fighting, both of them had near-dedicated their lives to it - even before Voltron, before war came knocking at their doorstep, both of them had been fighting for something. At this point, it was in their blood.

 

But there was no more need for blood. No more need for bloodshed, no more need for their blood and the blood of others - the blood of whole worlds - to be on the line for freedom.

 

Now they had freedom. They’d won it, perhaps against all odds. 10,000 and more years of imperialism wasn’t easy to overthrow and dismantle, even after the fighting was over, and there was more and more work ahead of them to be done. Planets to stabilise, cities to rebuild, cultures to help rediscover themselves now the heel of the Galra Empire had been lifted.

 

Of course, the Paladins of Voltron weren’t expected to partake in the aftermath - they’d done so much already, given so much, that it was fair to say they deserved their rest, their time to recover.

 

The fact of the matter was that neither Shiro or Keith had ever been any good at staying still. Lance and Hunk took time with their families but Lance also ended up helping Allura and Coran with the official establishment of New Altea, while Hunk and Pidge were immersed in helping the UN and the Galaxy Garrison make plans for upgrading the Earth on a bit more of a permanent basis, Matt and Sam Holt right there in the thick of it with them.

 

Shiro and Keith? They were born to fly.

 

So fly they did. The war had almost stolen that desire to explore the universe, discover its secrets, roam its galaxies, and trek across its worlds. And they’d seen their fair share of the universe already as they’d fought for its survival and its freedom. They’d crashed landed on a planet of boiling rock, they’d seen technology and nature become one on the wonder of Olkarion, Keith had spent two years on the back of a space whale that took him through the Quantum Abyss, Shiro had spent months trapped inside the Black Lion as nothing but a spirit, trying desperately to echo outwards and catch someone’s attention.

 

But there was still more. More to do, more to see, more to explore . And they’d want nothing more than to do it by each other’s side.

 

It wasn’t running away. They visited Earth often, kept in close contact with the Paladins and the Coalition in case they were needed, touched base with Krolia and Kolivan at various Blade bases across the galaxies that were now working to rebuild and reshape the Galra into something closer to the old honour it once held.

 

It was fulfilling a dream they’d both thought lost among the shouts and screams of war. Flying, together. Exploring, together. Them, together.

 

Some of the places they visited had been colonised by the Galra Empire generations ago, in the heart of the former Empire, some others were barely touched, as if preserved in time.

 

Keith’s eyes shone on the blue side of their ambiguous purple in the red lights of the ship building district of Xiotania, a planet that was more a monument of metal and industry, beholden to everlasting rain and still trying to repurpose itself after the Empire’s fall but getting there, day by day by day. I always wondered what an alien ship would look like being built, Keith had admitted as the screech of alien metal  being bent into shape droned on through the night.

 

Shiro’s hair was more silver than white among the bioluminescent forests of Gloiuhiri, the teal light of the leaves and the fungi illuminating their path through the ethereal forest. Shiro’s voice had been quiet but not as pained as it could have been when he told Keith, before they want to sleep watching the peaceful drifting creatures overhead, that this place reminded him of the astral plane.

 

The endless orange sand dunes of Yaspada reminded both of them of the desert back on Earth, the one where Keith had grown up, and the one Shiro had been rescued in. They trekked across shifting sand, mesmerised by the sand birds that flew over their heads, and after that trip, they’d done a trip back home to remind themselves that they always had a place to go back to, when they were ready.

 

The three-eyed giant of Nesnichi, Coran had told them, was a myth used to inspire greatness in Altean warriors, as it only showed itself to warriors that understood the depth and cost of sacrifice. Nesnichi was a planet made from barren mountains and with very little ocean, and the giant’s blank blue eyes had felt kind when it had stared down at them from where it had appeared from behind the mountain they’d been climbing, as it was knew that they were there not for the giant to validate them as warriors, as that time had long past, but for the pure wonder of seeing a new planet, a new alien that might prove friendly.  

 

The black rivers of Roskavis were treacherous to traverse without the Uelphens - the lantern guides - of the planet, as the planet lived in near perpetual nighttime, the small sun it orbited far away and only able to rise for 40 doboshes each day. They required an act of devotion performed on one of their riverbanks to appear to travellers, so that was where Shiro decided to offer Keith the ring he’d been carrying around across two galaxies and five planets and a Blades’ base to share his wish with Krolia. Keith, of course, said yes, and the night lit up with the purple glow of four Uelphens, small and dancing as they approached from beneath the oily river.

 

They returned to Earth after that. Perhaps permanently, perhaps not - but as much at peace with themselves as they could probably manage, which was far beyond what either of them had thought possible. And ready to stay long enough to get married, at least.

Chapter Text

Subject Y0XT39. Who are you?

 

Subject Y0XT39.

 

Operation Kuron Stage 2 Initiating.

 

Brain activity is normal and responsive.

 

Subconscious subroutines downloading... Download complete.

 

Beginning memory sequences commencing.

 

Earth. Japan. 2060. February 29th. Leap Year. Shirogane. Keiko. Takahiro. Takashi . Shirogane Takashi. United States of America? United States of America. American. Japanese-American . Identity component recognised. Takashi Shirogane. Language. Japanese. English. Bilingual. Identity component recognised. Nickname. Shiro . Identity component recognised. Friendship. Stephen, Joshua, Carlos, Laura, Jermaine. School. Intelligent. Hard-working. Ambitious. Basketball. Leadership qualities. Bisexuality. Athletic. Introverted. Friendly. Trusting. Identity components recognised. ERROR. Parental loss , fifteen.

 

Beginning memory sequences complete.

 

Who are you? Subject Y0XT39. Who are you? Subject Y0X - Who are you? Takashi Shirogane.  

 

Intermediate memory sequences commencing.  

 

Trust; compromised, 34%. Introversion; increased, 56%. Loneliness; increased, 60%. Anger; increased, 72%. Maternal grandfather. Ikeda Yoshiro. Relocation. Friendship; restart, reroute to “trust; compromised, 34%”. Galaxy Garrison; acceptance, fast track. Problem located, reroute to “anger; increased, 72%”. Patience yields focus. Problem source located: Grief. Source of grief located, reroute to “parental loss, sixteen”. Patience yields focus. Anger; decreased, 32%. Focus; increased, 40%. ‘Best pilot of your generation’. Identity component recognised. Graduation. Junior officer. Grandparental loss, nineteen . Loneliness; increased, 25%. Calculation in progress. Loneliness, 85%.

 

Intermediate memory sequences complete.

 

Who are you? Subject Y0XT39. Who are you? Takashi Shirogane. Shiro.

 

Advanced memory sequences commencing.

 

Keith. Mentor. Companionship. Understanding. Trust; increased, 33%. Friendship. Best friend. Love; unknown. Senior officer. Kerberos mission; accepted. Joy. Ambition. Success. Friendship. Matthew Holt. Role model. Samuel Holt. Loss, reroute to “keith.” Love; unknown (known). Exploration. Motivation component recognised. Wonder. Awe. Panic. Terror. Information overload, related to ‘the known universe’. Galra Empire. Sendak. Zarkon. Protect. Fight. Gladiator. ‘Champion’. Guilt; increased, 82%. Motivation component recognised, rewrite initial “motivation component”. Loss, related to ‘arm’. Replacement, identified as ‘galra’. Ulaz. Escape. Voltron. Escape compromised. Escape successful. Memory compromised. Earth. Garrison. Keith. Keith. Keith . Love; known. Lance, Hunk, Pidge (recognised as ‘Katie Holt’), Allura, Coran. The Black Lion. Black Paladin of Voltron. Identity component recognised. Justice. Freedom. Motivation components recognised. VOLTRON. VOLTRON. VOLTRON.

 

Advanced memory sequences complete.

 

Who are you?

 

My name is Shiro. I’m a Paladin of Voltron.          

 

Operation Kuron Stage 3 Initiating.

Chapter Text

Shiro grew up wanting a hoverbike.

 

Every Christmas, it’d be at the top of his Christmas list - and every Christmas, there’d never be a hoverbike waiting for him on Christmas morning. His parents said he was too young - but that didn’t make sense to Shiro. Of course he was too young - but he still wanted to have the hoverbike for when he was older. That argument was countered and shot down by his mother’s insistence that it’d be too dangerous, no matter how old he was.

 

“Motorbikes are already death traps,” his mother fretted, “a motorbike that can fly ? It’s just asking for an accident, Takashi!”

 

His father was more sympathetic to his plight but nevertheless always ended up agreeing with his mother on the subject. Shiro had wonder where his yearning to fly came from, because it wasn’t either of his parents, that was for sure. So secure, so grounded .

 

There was some dark, twisted irony to the fact that both his parents died in a road accident involving a speeding motorbike.

 

Being put under the care of his grandfather could have perhaps presented an opportunity to get that hoverbike he’d always wanted, cutting edge and sleek and cool . But the notion didn’t interest Shiro anymore, his mother’s horridly prophetic words haunting him.

 

However, the yearning to fly never dissipated. Instead of a hoverbike and the promise of daring tricks mid-flight, Shiro directed his energy toward to the Galaxy Garrison, channeled his grief and anger at the double loss into making his parents proud and becoming the best pilot of his generation, ready to shoot off into the stars and explore the unknown.

 

The first time Shiro ever actually sees a hoverbike in person is when he meets Keith.

 

Keith, fifteen (“Almost sixteen,” Keith points out sulkily) and small for his age, who looks like the world’s taken out a beating on. Keith, with the fiery potential behind his dark eyes, and the bright red hoverbike that looks like it’s been plucked straight from the dreams of Shiro’s childhood.

 

He shouldn’t - but he lets Keith take him on a bike ride through the desert, even though he knows Keith’s not quite old enough to be doing that. Regardless of that, Keith rides the hoverbike like he was born to do it, and when Keith tells him it used to be his Dad’s, Shiro thinks he probably was.

 

The height achieved by the hoverbike is nothing compared to the heights achievable by the jet planes used in advanced Garrison training - yet for some reason, it’s just as heart-pounding and exhilarating. At first it’s strange to hang onto someone as slim as Keith is but once Keith starts doing the mid-flight tricks and spins that Shiro always dreamed of doing when he was a kid, skimming desert rock faces and diving off cliff edges, it doesn’t matter.

 

The wind rushes past Shiro’s ears, the hoverbike hums and pulses beneath them, and Shiro lives a dream he’s had since before he can remember.  

Chapter Text

After spending months trapped inside the Black Lion as nothing more than a metaphysical entity, physical sensation is something of a blessing and a curse to Shiro after being brought back from the dead.

 

It felt like a miracle (perhaps it was a miracle, for him to have survived this long) to be able to just feel things again. The warmth and light of the sun (not Earth’s sun, sure, but a sun’s a sun, in his opinion, and he’s beyond the point of being picky), the cool trickle of water on his skin and down his throat, the security of solid ground beneath his feet. Being in space, that last one’s less constant, but it’s better than the infinite vastness of the astral plane, where things tended more towards illusion than tangibility.

 

The curse of it was that Shiro was much more sensitive.

 

It took him near to two weeks to build up a proper appetite again. Sometimes he couldn’t handle the bright light of whatever star or sun they were close to and had to keep his eyes covered while the pain passed. If water was too cold or too hot, it took him far longer than usual to recover from the discomfort. But it wasn’t even those things that were truly difficult to deal with - they were part of the recovery he needed to go through after being brought back from the dead, and Shiro knew these problems would pass in time as his spirit settled in this new body.

 

It was touch that was the crux of it all. Keith’s touch, if Shiro had to be painfully specific.

 

Lance was tactile but it never went past him leaning against you, or flinging his arm around your shoulder. Hunk would hug you if he got emotional, but other than that, he didn’t go out of his way to touch people, even if didn’t mind either Lance or Pidge hanging off him at any given moment. Pidge was much the same, though less accepting of affection if she was trying to focus, and Allura was notably reserved in that department, except with Lance when she thought no one was looking.

 

Keith’s physical affection didn’t extend past him, Krolia, and the cosmic wolf but it had certainly increased in the wake of Shiro’s return, and had lost the hesitation that used to be inherent in Keith initiating touch him.

 

If Shiro needed help standing, Keith was there, his hand warm and strong in Shiro’s, lighting up the nerves in Shiro’s remaining arm from fingertip to shoulder. The smallest of wounds gained in their trek across the universe was tenderly treated by Keith’s deft fingers, gentle on Shiro’s bruised ribs, the burnt inside of his wrist, his scraped cheekbone, his fractured pinky finger. Each press of Keith’s fingers was a point of heat that spread and spread until it imbedded itself deep in Shiro’s chest, leaving him with a glowing core of heat that he didn’t know what to do with. Keith clasped his hand on Shiro’s shoulder as often as Shiro does to him, now, and he couldn’t stop himself from wondering whether Keith felt the jolt Shiro did when Keith touched him. Keith stayed close to him during the times they slept, and the short distance between them was always torturous to contemplate.

 

That last one made Shiro wonder whether his newfound sensitivity to Keith’s touch was just another side-effect of being back in a physical body again - or if it pointed to something else entirely, something that Shiro had perhaps been subconsciously denying for quite some time now.