Voltron landing at the garrison causes an uproar. As soon as the paladins land they're ushered into a meeting with the high command and made to explain why they've come back. It goes on for far longer than it needs to, and when the paladins are let out they're drained and more than ready to reunite with their families living off-base. Hunk teases Lance for getting weepy at the thought of his mom and siblings.
Shiro's laughing at their antics when something catches his eye. A glint of light off of glass, and there he is. Adam. He's leaning against the wall, arms crossed, hair is shorter than when Shiro last saw it, and he's gotten a new pair of glasses, but it's him. Every part of Shiro freezes, and his limbs no longer feel like his own as he moves forward by instinct. Adam looks up and their eyes meet.
"Takashi," Adam breathes.
Shiro breaks. The next thing he knows, they're in each other's arms and he's crying. "Adam. I didn't...I never thought l. God, I'm so sorry."
Adam pulls away gently, giving him a shaky smile and looking at their now joined hands. They're silent for a while. There too much to say, and the space between them feels too great. It's Adam who speaks first, "should we move this to my...to the apartment?"
Shiro nods, and silence falls back over them as they walk the familiar path to the apartment they once shared. They say nothing as Adam unlocks the door and makes a beeline for the kitchen. Shiro hears the kettle turn on as he steps past the threshold for the first time in far too long and looks around at the living room that's a carbon copy of his memories. Almost. It takes a moment but Shiro starts to see that there are little differences. The blanket that's thrown over the couch is new, the kitchen island gained a plant, and there's a new picture frame on the wall. Shiro moves to get a closer look at it. But, it's not a picture. It's a plaque.
"Takashi Shirogane. For his bravery and sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty. Mother Earth will mourn Her son who has been lost to the stars." Shiro takes in a deep breath and looks to the kitchen where Adam is pouring boiling water into two mugs. His gaze shift to the photo pinned to the fridge with star magnets. It's of the two of them smiling arm in arm as the sun sets behind them. In it Shiro's showing off his left hand and Adams eyes are soft with adoration. It was taken just after Adam proposed, his mom told Shiro she'd never seen her son look happier. That was over 4 years ago.
Now, Adam is tossing teabags into the compost and bringing over hot mugs. He looks at Shiro like he’s a ghost. And honestly, maybe he is. They sit down side by side on the couch and for the briefest moment it's like everything is normal again. It's just another evening after a long day of teaching cadets and they'll sip on their tea and tell each other about the silly things the kids did in class.
That moment is shattered when Shiro goes to reach for his mug only to remember that his arm isn't there anymore. He turns the cup around with his left hand and goes to take a sip.
The quiet stretches out until it becomes painful. The urge to scream is building up inside Shiro and he needs to say something before he loses it. He takes another sip. "Y'know, when we were on Kerboros I was so confident that I had been right. There we were, gathering ice samples just like we had planned, and I was fine. Space didn't kill me, I had done what I wanted to do before I died and my illness hadn't gotten in the way. I was so sure that we would get right back in our ship and that Everything would be alright. I'd come back to earth and apologize for taking such a huge risk, and you'd forgive me. We'd get married under the stars just like we planned, and I'd live out the rest of my days by your side without feeling like I needed to be back in space."
Shiro can't look At Adam. He stares at his steaming mug as words keep tumbling out of his mouth in a manic rush.
"But then we were taken. And, God, I felt like such an idiot. But I couldn't give up hope. Every night in my cell I thought about coming home, about coming back to you. When they Tortured me, it was your face that pulled me through. I couldn't die out there in space in the hands of aliens, if I did then you'd never be able to forgive me," his hand clenches on the handle of his mug, the glass screeching under his grasp.
"Then I learned who my captors Really were...and what they wanted to do. And I was scared, Adam. I was so scared. They wanted to destroy Earth, they wanted to take everything from me and I couldn't let that happen, so I fought. I fought with all I had, I let it take over. I threw myself into running the team into ending this war. I wanted it all to be over so that I could come back without spending the rest of my life feeling like I was selfish for choosing happiness over the good of the universe. But that all fell apart and I..I.."
Adam reaches over to where Shiros knuckles have gone white and gently takes the mug from his hand. He fills the empty space with his own hand and holds on tight. Shiro feels like he can finally breathe again. "We…we had a plan. We were going to take down their leader it was risky, but the opportunity was too good to pass up and so we took it. In the end, we did what we had planned to do. But it wasn't without a price...Zarkon, the emperor, he...he killed me, Adam. And at the moment I felt myself start to fade away I knew. I knew that all along I had been a fool to ever leave you. The stars were never worth being away from your arms and I don't know if I'll ever be worthy of being held by you again."
Shiro hadn’t even noticed the tears until Adam started wiping them away, his thumbs brushing soft against his cheek. “No, you’re just to a fool to ever think that I wasn’t praying every night to have you back. That I wasn’t looking up into the sky and wishing you were by my side instead of lost up there in that darkness.” Adam pulls Shiro close, “I never stopped loving you, Takashi.”