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Lion Spirits

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It had been a relatively uneventful day in Lance’s opinion.

 

He had woken up, eaten a poor excuse for a breakfast, stopped the Galra from stealing supplies from a local patrol of cargo pilots, almost gotten married to Hunk (again), accidentally stole a miniature bomb thingy from one of the cargo ships which earned him some scolding from Allura and Shiro, and flew back in a mechanical red space lion to eat some semi digestible green goop for an early dinner.

 

So yeah, uneventful.

 

Which brought him to where he was now, laying in bed, face mask freshly applied, headphones he stole from Pidge resting on his ears playing some classical alien melody in hopes to lure him off to sleep.

 

Keyword being 'hopes'.

 

Eventually, the exhaustion from the day's events caught up with him and lured him into a deep sleep.

 

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The first thing he recognized was a heavy rain. It beat down on his armor and soaked through the exposed parts of his undersuit. He looked up at the sky to see clouds, grey and yet so comforting. He unlocked the air seal on his helmet, it opened with a small hiss to release the pressure. He took off his helmet and let the rain beat a steady pattern onto his skin. His eyes fluttered closed in pure bliss, he hadn’t realized how much he missed the rain. The warm and soothing droplets rolled down his cheeks like tears, and who’s to say some of them weren’t. At that moment, all was calm and right with the world. How he had missed this, how he had longed to feel it again.

 

Thunder crackled loud in his ear, startling him from his trance-like state. He glanced around to find shelter, no doubt he would rather spend all his time out in the storm, but the threat of lightning scared him into submission. He looked around for something to shield him from the rain. A shack, the same shack that sold pizza and those oh so heavenly garlic knots down by the pier. It looked exactly how he had remembered it, if he concentrated hard enough, he could even feel the warmth of the oven, feel the grease on his fingers as he sunk his teeth into his favorite delicacy. Watching the employees frying the homemade fries in their pans, adding spices and flinching any time it bubbled over and pinched their hands with the boiling grease.

 

A brief flash of lightning, followed by the crackle of thunder snapped him out of his fantasy as the rain grew increasingly heavier. Quickly, he ran over, nearly losing his balance to the wet sand, and hopped over the bar stools and the counter. A brief flash of memories struck him, waiting for his mom to finish changing his younger cousins diaper in the public restroom, he sat on one of the slightly torn cushions atop the bar stools. His gangly legs swinging to and fro while his hand tapped along to the tune playing from the shacks old speakers. The smell of pizza wafted around him and he tried not to drool too much. He knew his mama would be upset if he spent his newly acquired allowance on all the garlic knots he could carry. It took all of his self-control not to reach down into the pocket of his shorts and pull out his crumpled five dollar bill. After what had seemed like forever, his mama came out of the restroom carrying his cousin Maria on her hip.

 

“Gracias por esperar tan pacientemente mi hijo, vamos a dar un paseo por el paseo marítimo bueno?”

 

He remembered nodding so hard his head nearly popped off. He jumped off the stool and said a quick goodbye to the person leaning over the counter. She gave him a small smile and waved back, exchanging a knowing look with his mama.

 

The memory faded as soon as it appeared, it brought fresh tears to his eyes. He wiped them off along with the rainwater and slid off the counter into the shack.

 

It was strange, having looked inside the small kitchen so many time but never at this angle. It didn’t seem as cramped as before, now it was a little more spacious and felt a little like home. He glanced outside at the storm, the rain was so heavy it made it hard to see the details of the distance. Everything just seemed like a blurry shadow.

 

He placed his helmet on the counter and looked around the kitchen. The wallpaper was peeling, and it brought a fond sense of home into his chest. There were many framed pictures hanging up on the walls, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t register any of the faces. The one thing he did recognize was probably the oldest thing in the place. It had collected a thin layer of dust, and when he swiped his hand over it to clear it.

 

 

 

 

 

The names were a little fuzzy but still readable if he concentrated hard enough. He remembered the employees all looking fairly similar when he was younger, they all had similar kind brown eyes, curly dark hair, darker tanned skin and smiles that ended in dimples. He remembered telling one of them a story about his siblings' barbecue disaster where his oldest sister Veronica has nearly singed her new hair extensions and the laugh he heard from the boy working was entirely worth it. It sounded like a campfire, loud, warm, and slightly crackling. Younger him had smiled, making it a personal goal to himself to try and see what everyone's laugh sounded like.

 

Hunk had been easy enough, Lance always saved his best jokes for the gentle giant. The first time they met in the garrison Lance made a slightly rude comment that would have his mother scolding him about the head commander Iverson. Something about comparing his voice to that of a howler monkey. Hunk couldn’t contain his chuckles and they burst out of him and alerted the entire class to the two boys. Lance couldn’t find it in himself to care, Hunk’s laugh was a little rough but gentle and his smile afterward was like the sun. Their outburst in class had them sent to the principal's office, but neither boys cared. From then on Hunk had become Lance’s best friend, and the two were nearly inseparable since.

 

Pidge occasionally released a tiny chuckle whenever she found something funny, but Lance had made her honest to God burst when he tried Coran’s specialty Ralmore Tentacle Kabobs with Sonshek Sauce. His face had been greener than her Lion and he had sworn to himself to never try Coran’s dishes again. Her laugh rang out through the castle, she clutched her stomach while happy tears streamed down her eyes. Lance was a little worried her gut would burst, but he was too busy laughing himself to do anything about it. Even Coran was laughing, his accent mixed in with his chuckles and the resulting sound was foreign to Lance’s ears but reassuring nonetheless. Pidge had a laugh that portrayed just how young she was, it was original, not at all girly, a little squeaky and super loud. Her cackles reminded Lance of the little gremlin she was, and he couldn’t help but want to hear it again.

 

At first, Shiro had seemed like an unreachable hero of a man. Lance had practically worshipped him all throughout his garrison days so it made him a little hard to approach. But the closer they had gotten, the more Lance began to see in Shiro. The man was as awkward as a prepubescent boy trying to ask out a girl to a high school dance. It was almost hilarious how little Shiro knew about taking time to appreciate small conversations. The guy was so nervous about spending time with the other Paladins, he had locked himself in his room to do push-ups! Lance had started to invite him to more and more events around the castle, little things like sleepovers with Hunk, video games with Pidge, story time with Coran, and R&R/ Spa Nights with Allura (and an ever so reluctant Keith). Eventually Shiro loosened up a little, and finally, during Paladin movie night, one of the on-screen characters had accidentally fallen into a very noticeable and totally avoidable hole, and uttered a line that didn’t completely register with the rest of the crew but had Shiro laughing so hard he was practically gasping for air. It had shocked everyone to see someone who was normally so controlled and uptight to let go like this. His laugh was boisterous and a little husky and sounded like it had been building up for years. It was very contagious and soon everyone was rolling around on the floor and trying to get ahold of themselves. Figuratively and Literally. Lance could tell Shiro had been holding that in for a while, and he was glad to see the older Paladin be able to be himself around the others.

 

Lance was expecting Allura’s laugh to be very feminine and gentle, he had heard her chuckling a few times during the diplomatic meeting, but Lance had believed those were only to be polite. He tried everything to make the princess reveal her true laugh, jokes, pick up line, even doing something embarrassing, but he still hadn’t made her laugh. He was about to give up when during one of the spa nights, Allura had dug out some of her older Altean makeup. She had mentioned it was for special occasions such as costume parties or festivals but wanted to try and revive her old face painting skills. Lance had taken to using Keith scowling face as his canvas and tried to make him look less grumpy. He painted blushing cheeks, gave him huge lips, over saturated eyeshadow, and tried to give him long wings like he had for Shiro but couldn’t find the eyeliner. Finally, he added a mole on the left side of Keith's nose, just above his upper lip. When he backed away to reveal his magnificent creation to Allura she had snorted so loud the mice who had formerly been sleeping on her bed had awoken suddenly. Allura’s laugh had not at all been what he was expecting, it was almost hilarious in of itself. Her laugh was filled with loud snorts and extra bubbly, it was almost ugly and not at all pristine and feminine. When she had finally calmed down she thanked Lance, telling him that she hadn’t laughed that hard since her father's death. To say that Lance's heart hadn’t skyrocketed at that reveal would have been a lie. He couldn’t wait to hear her laugh again.

 

Keith’s laugh… was so far nonexistent. The other paladins had claimed it existed, but Lance wasn’t having it. Currently, he had not been successful at making Keith laugh but he swore that one day he would. He would make that emo mullet bust a gut if it was the last thing he did, because if Keith could laugh? Then pigs may as well join NASA because they’d be doing much more than flying.

 

Lance ended that train of thought before it could reach the station. He had heard a noise, it was like a call for help. Someone's scream, most likely from an older woman, and many small children. He could barely make out what they were saying.

 

“¡ Auxilio! ¡ que mi marido lo salve, que alguien me ayude! ¡ Dios mío, ven rápido!”

 

Lance sprung into action, grabbing his helmet and sealing it over his face as he ran out into the storm towards the voices. The pounding rain on his helmet muffled the voices until he could no longer make out what they were saying. He hurriedly tore off his helmet and tossed it on the ground, blindly following the shouts.

 

Suddenly a scream erupted through the rain, it sounded like the crackling thunder and tore through Lance like a torpedo. The rain no longer felt soothing, it felt like bullets trying to pierce through his brown skin. The rain buried his vision, it mixed through the tears and sent salt and rainwater flooding in his mouth every time he gasped for a breath. His heart was pounding as his feet slipped beneath him, the wet sand catching his feet and absorbing the friction, slowing him down.

 

But he kept running.

 

He was sprinting now, tearing across the beach in a desperate run. He had recognized that scream, it was the same one he had heard many time before. When everyone in his house got too rowdy and disobedient, when a scary movie provided a hearty jumpscare, when Marco was stuck in a tree and almost broke his leg falling out. It was his mother's scream, and if that hadn’t already broken his heart, a child's voice rang out clear through the howling storm.

 

“MAMA!”

 

His eyes widened, his lungs begged for air, and he pushed himself harder than before. Racing down the achingly familiar street, he stopped at his old house.

 

It was hard to see due to the heavy rain, but there it was. His childhood house, torn to bits. Shingles were scattered everywhere, the drains were broken, spilling rain and flooding the flowerbeds. The door was blown wide open, hanging on a single hinge. The porch boards were torn up and tossed around by the wind. The wind chime gone, lost somewhere in the storms. The windows were shattered, the paint peeling. The normally cheerful pastel yellow paint now dull and soggy.

 

This was not the house Lance remembered.

 

The scream erupted again, it came from the backyard. Lance scrambled over to the brown picket fence that was ripped from the ground, the gate was thrown wide open. He entered the backyard to find everything in chaos.

 

The chairs and tables were blown against what was left of the fence, the rest were nowhere to be seen. The flowerbeds his mama had practically slaved over were in shambles, the beautifully bright colors now faded and smudged. The pool, where Lance had learned to swim, spent so many summer days, where he trained to be on his elementary schools swim team, was no longer the crystal clear blue Lance remembered. Instead, it was a muddy grey, reflecting the angry storm which had only seemed to worsen. Scanning the backyard Lance noticed the small grove his father tended to daily. Oranges, apples, even pears were all grown there during the hottest seasons. Most of the fruit came from this garden, and here the trees were uprooted. Cast aside and split in half by lightning. The tree with the tire swing, where Lance would push his little cousins on during family gatherings, and the other one where Abuelo would nap in a hammock under the shady branches. One was intact, the tire swing missing, but the other was a wreck. It had fallen over and landed on top of…

 

Mierda

 

Lance ran over to the fallen tree, tripping on loose branches and upturned patio stones. He tried with all his might to lift it up, but it was too heavy for him. It only he had been stronger than it wouldn’t have crushed…

 

“Mi Hijo…”

 

Lance let go of the trunk with a start. He glanced down at his mother’s face and promptly burst into tears.

 

The sunny and strong woman he had known and loved was gone, replaced with this fragile and grey one. The color had gone from her beautiful face, her laugh lines making her look much older. Blood was dripping from a gash on her head, it was the only color left on her weak face. Her brown eyes had dulled, and her plump lips were thin and malnourished. She reached out with a thin and delicate had, Lance took it carefully as if it would shatter upon the slightest touch, then gripped it like a lifeline.

 

“Mamá, lo siento mucho. Yo no era lo suficientemente rápido... te defrauda. mamá, por favor, no me dejes. Por favor no mueras.” he pleaded

 

His mama gave him a sad smile and said “Lo siento, mi hijo. Volveremos a vernos otro día. No todo está perdido, me alegro de que aún estés vivo. Te quiero.”

 

“¡ mamá no!” he cried, just as her eyes rolled back into her head. Her pale body going limp, the hand Lance held went cold. She was lifeless.

 

She was dead.

 

“MAMA!” he cried, his tears drowning his voice. It weakened him, and the rain beat against his armor harder than before. The world lost color, it became dark and muted. Lance stood and walked out of the backyard. He walked into the street, down to the boardwalk, down to the beach, down to the water's edge. The rain splashed around him, he treads through it until it reached his knees, and he cried.

 

He cried until no more tears would come out, he cried so the whole world could hear his mourning. He cried to the ocean, the normally warm water turned freezing. He cried until he wasn’t sure what was tears and what was rain. He looked up.

 

He had nothing left. His mama was his world, his universe, all he wanted was to see her again, and now he had. And now she was dead. Crushed by the same tree that he had climbed, that he pretended he was a monkey in, swinging through the jungle, he played Tarzan with his siblings, he had tried to convince his parents to build a treehouse in the tree. His sister Sofia had carved her crushes name into that tree when she was thirteen. Their mama was not happy about that. His brother Marco had gotten stuck in that tree while chasing a squirrel when he was nine. His brother Luis showed off to his crush how fast he could climb a tree, she was impressed and they started dating for a while. Lance had always wanted to try that out. His Abuela has grown that tree from a sapling when she was young. His Abuelo had promised to always care for it before she passed away. It was a symbol of their love.  

 

To Lance, it was a symbol of betrayal.

 

He looked up into the sea. The normally sparkling and gentle waters were choppy with waves and unforgiving. Lance looked down at his knees. His armor was roughed up, his undersuit soaked to the bone. His skin felt clammy and cold, if the storm didn’t overthrow him, then the hypothermia would surely take him. He closed his eyes and tried to think of sun, but all he could see was his family, their bright smiles, their cheery eyes, and his mama. Her tanned skin, brown hair with a slight curl. Her generous personality, how she made sure nobody would go hungry and made everyone feel welcome. Her neverending optimism, Lance had never in his life met someone as strong as his mother.

 

And she was gone.

 

The wave crashed over Lance, the undertow pulling him into the sea. He gasped for breath, his hands splashing furiously to try and find something to hold onto, something grabbed his ankle and pulled him under again. He gulped in a mouthful of seawater, air gone from his lungs. His life was in the hands of the unrelenting sea, and it let go.

 

Lance drowned.

 

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Lance gasped awake in a cold sweat. His hands were shaking holding his blanket in a vice grip, his mask had peeled off and was smeared all over his pillow, Pidge’s headphones were on the floor still softly playing the soothing music. It wasn’t enough now, Lance was already in a state of panic.

 

He got out of bed and staggered towards the bathroom, he squinted at the light as he entered. He walked up to the mirror and closed his eyes taking a deep breath before opening them and looking at his reflection.

 

He was a mess.

 

His eyes had heavy and very dark bags underneath them as if he hadn’t slept in years. His skin, normally a gorgeous caramel brown was a pale dusty color. His hair was slick with sweat and stringy, his face mask was smudged all over his face. He looked sickly.

 

Lance closed his eyes and took another deep breath. He repeated until his hand was no longer shaking, and he couldn’t feel that many goosebumps. Then he got to work on re-doing his routine.

 

Lance picked up his washcloth and ran it under the Altean sink, then he got to work removing the remains of his face mask and cleaning away the tear stains and sweat. Then he removed his pajamas and took a nice long hot shower, using his moisturizer to substitute for his face mask. He wrapped his hair in a towel, like his sisters had shown him, and walked back over to the mirror.

 

Color had returned back to his face. There were no more tears or sweat or face mask, just Lance. He smiled, hoping nobody would notice the slight tremble to it, and walked out of the bathroom and over to his bed.

 

He stripped the bed of its sheets, balling them up and tossing them in the corner of the room. He opened the bottom shelf of the dresser and retrieved new sheets, a blanket, and pillowcases. Remaking his bed was super easy, his mama made him do it every morning. Ouch, let’s not think about that now… it’s still fresh.

 

Finally, there was no evidence of any nightmare. Lance’s walls had taken a beating, but he built them back up again. Hopefully, they would last longer this time, that nightmare was brutal.

 

Not ready to go back to bed, Lance put on his fluffy Blue Lion slippers and walked over to the Lion Hangar.  

 

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As soon as the hangar came into view, Lance was swarmed by the presence of Blue and Red. Blue felt worried and wanted to comfort Lance. Red was an ever-present threat of wanting to beat up whoever hurt his son.

 

Lance chuckled at the thought, “Hey guys.”

 

As soon as he said it, Blues comfort increased tenfold. She swarmed his consciousness and gave him a mind hug

 

My Paladin, is everything alright? She purred.

 

Lance entered the hanger, the presence of the Lions only growing stronger.

 

“Everything's okay Blue, just another nightmare.”

 

Blue purred again in concern That makes for the fourth one in a row, you do not look so well.

 

Lance chuckled “Ouch, you wound me m’lady.”

 

Red purred in confusion She did not lay a paw on you? Where are you hurt? Blue! You must be more careful, these humans are delicate!

 

Blue laughed at Red’s confusion, No brother, it is a figure of speaking. Lance is not harmed, he is being sarcastic.

 

Red growled in anger, You got me worried if anyone tries to hurt you then come to me at once. I will not sit by and watch my Paladin be harmed.

 

Lance smiled up at the Lion, “Thanks Red, but I’m not that fragile! I can take care of myself you know!”

 

Red snorted, Lance felt Blue’s eyes look over to glare at the Red Lion.

 

Blue looked back at Lance and filled him with a sense of bravery Yes you can, my cub.

 

Red stared down at Lance. Blue, do you think-

 

Blue cut him off Are you feeling any better now Lance?

 

Lance smiled up at her and nodded, ending in a yawn. “Yeah, much better. I think I’m gonna try and go back to sleep now,” He stood up and stretched until his back popped. “Thanks, Blue, and thank you too Red! Goodnight!”

 

Goodnight Cub~ Blue purred

 

Don’t forget what I said about protecting you, I meant it. Red added.

 

Lance nodded and walked out of the hangar with a quick wave over his shoulder.

 

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★Well? How did the conversation with your Paladin go? Are they ready yet?★

 

ミ✫Well…✫

 

ミ✭Yes.✭

 

✫Red!✫

 

✭What? I can’t stand sitting by and watching my Paladin struggle with internal conflicts! It makes me upset, and I want to help!✭

 

★I understand Red, however, we must be certain the bond we have established with our Paladins is strong enough to support the Spirit Connection. I do not want anything to go wrong.★

 

✫My Bonds with Lance and Princess Allura are both very strong, I believe they are ready. I also agree with Red though, if it’s possible that our Paladins are struggling with internal conflicts then it would be best to interfere now in order to help them. They need all the support they can get.✫

 

✭He had a nightmare, a NIGHTMARE! I need to be able to protect him! I cannot stand for this any longer. I am going to comfort him right now!✭ミ

 

★Red wait- aaaannd he’s gone.★

 

ミ✲Way to go Paul.✲

 

✫Green? Who’s Paul?✫

 

✲I’m not entirely sure, Pidge mentioned it once. She called it a Vine. I think it might have something to do with being the Green Paladin and strengthening our bond! There are a lot of them…✲

 

ミ✭Ahem. Blue?✭

 

✫Yes, Red?✫

 

✭… Are you coming with me?✭

 

✫Am I coming with you to go where?✫

 

✭To comfort Lance! I’m… not so good at that sort of thing.✭

 

✫Well, Black, do you think He is Ready?✫

 

★As if I have a choice? Fine. Go.★

 

✭YES! Hurry up Blue, I want to see my little boy!✭

 

✲Here he comes…✲

 

✭What? I don’t see him?✭

 

✲Oh, that’s just another one of Pidges Vines. Carry on!✲ミ

 

✭Ah, okay. Thank you!✭ミ

 

✧Have fun!✧

 

✫Thanks, Yellow!✫ミ

 

★Don’t mess this up.★

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Lance had been lying down for what seemed like hours before he heard the footsteps.

 

Well, they weren’t exactly footsteps. They sounded softer, like a kitten padding down the hallway or a dog wearing little boots. Then came the knocking. Though it wasn’t quite knocking, more like banging. Scratching? Something was clawing at his door, and then a growl. Then the scratching stopped. Oh God, what if something snuck aboard the ship! The very thought made Lance shiver. It would be nearly impossible to sleep with the knowledge that there could be a potentially dangerous alien aboard the ship. So Lance did what any respectable brave Paladin of Voltron would do. He armed himself with a pillow and hid in a makeshift blanket fort he created on his bed.

 

It might not have been the best decision ever, but it was certainly a decision, and Lance was too tired to think of a better solution. So, yep.

 

Suddenly, the door wooshed open. It took every ounce of Lance's self-control not to let out a screech and risk giving away his position, so he clutched the pillow tighter and prepared for the worst.

 

A Lion.

 

A Beautiful Blue Lion.

 

It was translucent and gave off a calming aura. It reminded Lance of the sunniest days at the beach, glistening waters, and calm ocean currents. It was big, bigger than a regular lion, but still small enough to fit comfortably inside the room. It was about the same size as a small couch. It stepped in slowly, scanning its surroundings. Lance felt his connection with Blue humming in the back of his mind. Cautiously, he reached out in his consciousness and touched it.

 

The Lion whipped its head around to face him, and he gasped. Its eyes were glowing yellow. Not a sickening yellow, like Galra eyes, but a warm and inviting yellow, reminding Lance of the Sun, or a candlelight. Its body was glowing, the energy around it humming with content. Lance recognized it to be a female Lion or a Lioness as it did not have a mane. Its fur was softly tossing in a nonexistent breeze making it seem ethereal. It’s… enchanting.

 

I’m flattered that you think so Lance. Blue purred through their connection.

 

Lance yelped, scrambling backward against the wall of his bed. “Blue? Is-Is that y-you?”  

 

The Lion smiled warmly. Hello Lance, I am sorry to startle you. I hope you do not mind me coming to visit you. I want to help you with those nightmares you have been having.

 

Lance relaxed, the aura surrounding Blue was soothing. “That’s night of you girl, but you don’t have to-”

 

Blue interrupted him by walking over to his bed and promptly curling up behind Lance. Now, she purred through their bond, Tell me what your nightmare was about. I wish to help you through this. She rested one large paw around Lance, spooning him and releasing the tension from his body it one fell swoop. He melted into her embrace, she was so warm like the sea during a sunny day, but not unbearably warm. Just the right amount of heat for a comforting embrace.

 

Lance sighed “Well, it was… about my family.”

 

Blue purred in encouragement as if to say go on. Lance took a deep breath and retold his nightmare. The whole time, Blue was a comforting presence behind him, sometimes changing her aura to soothe him whenever he felt the impending anxiety creeping up on him, or other times purring softly to offer her sympathy. When Lance finished he felt a huge weight lift from his shoulders, the ever-persistent threat of tears was still there but it was slowly being replaced by a feeling of content and comfort.

 

Wow, these Lions sure are a Package.

 

Blue chuckled I am glad you think so Lance. Her tone switched to one more serious, but not any less soft, While I am here, is there anything else you would like to get off your shoulders?

 

Lance knew the answer to that. Yes, my doubts about my place on the team, my sense of self-worth and confidence. Despite constant reassurance from Hunk and Coran, I want to hear it from someone I know through a deep connection. Not to say Hunk and I don’t have a deep connection, we’re best bros for life, if we are still single by 40 then we’d probably marry each other. I just need to hear this from the Lions, I am their pilot after all. My insecurities had only increased during the Lion Switch. The whole event only told me that I could be replaced easier, instead of telling me I was special enough to be chosen by more than one Lion or whatever.

 

Suddenly, Lance's door flew straight open. A blast of strong, warm air entered the room as a brilliantly colored Red Lion bounded through the door. Its electric yellow eyes landed on Lance and it rushed over to the bed and glared at him. Upon closer inspection, the Red Lion looked pretty similar to the Blue Lion. It was smaller, still translucent and had a bright red fur coat. It’s mane whipped around using the same nonexistent wind, framing its face and making it look god-like. Its aura was warm, like Blue’s, but reminded Lance more of a Candle flame or a Campfire. His eyes glowed yellow and Lance thought they looked like tiny flames. His canines were sharp as he scowled. Lance should have been afraid right now, but Blue’s ever comforting presence behind him melted away all the fear and grounded him in a blissful state of serenity.

 

You. The Red Lion snarled. Who told you that you were easily replaceable, I’ll kill them.

 

Blue chuckled. Now Red, what did we say about killing other Paladins.

 

It was the other Paladins?! Red roared. I’m sorry Keith, I did like you, but you must go. Nobody hurts my boy.

 

Blue gave an exasperated sigh, Lance giggled at that.

 

Oh! He giggled, that means I did something right. Right? Blue? Did I make him happy? I am not the best with these emotional sorts of things…

 

“Aww, don’t worry Red,” Lance giggled, “You’re doing great!”

 

Red beamed, but dropped his smile quickly and scowled off to the side. Move over, I want to hug the human too.

 

Blue shifted on the bed so she was right up against the wall. The Red Lion tentatively crawled in beside Lance and laid his chin down on top of Lance's head, then he sighed with content. Lance felt a bit squashed, but the ever comforting and solid presences surrounding him was enough to make him comfortable. Both Lions had a soothing aura, and Lance fell into a deep slumber.

 

Red? Blue said once the Red Paladin was asleep.

 

Mmm, what? Red mumbled.

 

I think this trial was a success, what about you?

 

Mhmm, success, yippee.

 

Red, you do know we are not able to fall asleep, correct?

 

Shhh, he is comfortable. I want to stay a little longer.

 

Oh, Alright. Goodnight Lance.

 

Goodnight Lance.

 

 

 

“Buenas Noches Leones, te amo~”

Chapter Text

Keith couldn't sleep.

 

It wasn't because he was too hot, or too cold. Or that he was uncomfortable. In all honesty, he should have been fine!

 

It was the noise. It was unbearable.

 

Clawing, creaking, screaming, crying, laughing. It was a smoothie of emotions, and they were all coming from the room next door.

 

Lance's room.

 

With a sigh, he got up to go check on the former Blue Paladin. If he could find out what was going on, chances were he'd be able to finally go to sleep. He stepped out of his room and into the significantly cooler hallway, making a beeline for Lance's door. He stopped in front of it, about to knock when he realized something.

 

There were scratch marks on the door. Something with claws had tried to make its way into Lance's room, and judging by the screaming he'd heard. It had succeeded, probably making off with Lance.

 

Keith sprung into action, opening the door with one hand on his blade. Sure, it was a little uncomfortable to sleep with but he'd grown used to it. He whirled around and chucked it at the first object that looked decidedly un-Lance like. A translucent Red Lion.

 

The dagger bounced off the Lion before it could reach it. It whirled around, it's bright yellow eyes locking onto Keith. It growled and leaped off the bed before grabbing the dagger and running out the door.

 

Keith stood there in shock. When the Red Lion had moved, it revealed a larger Blue Lion who was hugging something to its chest. It was dimmer than the Red Lion, and its yellow eyes were narrowed into slits. As soon as Keith stepped forward the eyes closed. It seemed to acknowledge Keith's presence and didn't seem to care. Keith looked down at the object it was hugging and saw…

 

"Lance?!" he gasped.

 

Lance responded with a groan and the Blue Lion purred softly. That seemed to comfort him, as he went back to sleep.

 

"What's going on… who are you? How did you get into the castle?!" Keith asked the Lion. It opened its eyes and turned its head towards the door. Keith kept his eye on it, just in case it were to attack him, and then looked towards the door as well.

 

The same Red Lion from before was standing there, Keith's dagger clutched in its mouth. It had its yellow eyes narrowed on Keith, and before he knew it, it was running off again.

 

"Hey, wait! That doesn't belong to you!" he yelled and ran after it. Lance was in good hands- er paws. Probably. Anyway, he could take care of himself. Right now, Keith needed his dagger.

 

The Lion was fast, but Keith was slowly gaining on it, he was about to tackle it to the ground when suddenly it took a sharp turn, leaving Keith to fall on his side. He hissed in pain but shook it off and continued down the corridor he saw the Lion run into.

 

It turned to go into the training room, Keith following close behind. "START TRAINING LEVEL 16!" he yelled, hoping to cause a distraction long enough for him to snag his blade and possibly gain a battle advantage over the creature.

 

The sentry dropped down and saw the Lion first. Recognizing it opponent, it lunged at it with its sword.

 

Suddenly, the Lion's eyes glowed brighter, the end of its tail lighting up, before swinging it around and blasting a hole clean through the sentry that Lance would no doubt be jealous of. It then dashed out of the room before another one could drop down to start level 17. "END TRAINING SEQUENCE!" Keith yelled out before running after the Lion.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

He had lost it.

 

It was a giant, fluorescent red, Lion, and he'd lost it.

 

Allura was going to kill him if she found out there were two Lions lose on board the castle ship. Yknow, if the Lions didn't kill him first, or her, but he was certain she could handle them better. Maybe they'd even become friends one day and laugh as Allura would say ‘'Hey, remember Keith? I can't believe he lost you. I also can't believe he didn't survive long enough to have tea with us. Well, sucks to suck. Cheers!"

 

Of course, Keith wasn't sure Allura would use those exact words, but hey, it seemed pretty realistic to him. Totally possible, she already had mice after all. She could communicate with them too, what if she could communicate with the Lions? Keith couldn't do that. He was going to die and not even be able to say a quick ‘fuck you' to the Lion in a language they understood.

 

Actually, you are able to communicate with us. You were just being stubborn.

 

Keith jumped at the new voice and immediately reached for his blade before remembering…Damn, that stupid Lion has my blade.

 

I beg your pardon. I'll have you know I am not stupid, in fact. I should say you are the stupid one because you haven't figured out that I am the Red Lion yet.

 

Keith glared at the Lion like it had personally offended him. Which, technically it had, because it called him stupid, but most importantly.

 

"Are you reading my thoughts?" he asked it.

 

Through the spirit connection, yes.

 

"Get out of my head," he demanded, taking a step towards the Lion.

 

If he could see it's pupils, he would have guessed it rolled its eyes. Listen to me, Keith. If you want your blade back, I suggest you allow me to explain the situation here. Honestly, my apologies. We thought you were ready, but clearly, you are not.

 

Although Keith could hear words, it's mouth wasn't moving. It also knew his name, which disturbed him. He would have made a move to cut it in half, but it still had his precious blade.

 

He took another step forward and held out his hand. "Blade. Now"

 

The Lion scoffed, You aren't in the position to be making orders here. If anything, I am your superior. Or… I suppose Black its now, you aren't exactly my pilot anymore.

 

Keith's eyes widened, but he tried to school his expression into one of nonchalance. "How do you know about that."

 

He assumed the Lion rolled its eyes again Because I am the Red Lion Keith. Well, more specifically, the spiritual embodiment of the Red Lion. I believed our connection was strong enough, especially my connection with Lance. Blue and I are here to give him support. Its face darkened and it scowled towards Keith, Apparently, he does not feel as though he is a suitable pilot of Voltron. He does not believe in himself as much as he appears to.

 

Keith raised a doubtful eyebrow. "Now I know you must be lying, Lance is the most stupidly confident person I've ever met. He's so self-absorbed, he probably thinks that he's worthy of every Lion there is to pilot."

 

The Red Lion scowled, I am not lying! He told me himself! You all are too ignorant to care about it! Just because you cannot see through his facade like us, does not mean you should automatically assume all is right with him! He is having serious doubts about his place on the team, the only one he had to talk to was you Keith, and you left.

 

Something twisted in Keith's gut, "You're lying! He has Hunk and Pidge, and if he's not with them he's with Coran, or Shiro, or hell even Allura! Don't try and tell me that he's hurting, he's got so many friends surrounding him. He doesn't know what it means to be alone, not like I do."

 

The Red Lion snarled. Watch your volume, It spoke in a venomous tone, Some people are trying to sleep.

 

Keith growled in the back of his throat, "Yeah? Well so was I! Before you attacked Lance and kept me up!"

 

It stumbled back, eyes wide before narrowing dangerously and stepping forward. Attack Lance? How dare you assume I attacked my own Paladin. Blue and I came to comfort him, not hurt him, do you even want to know what happened?

 

He crossed his arms, "No actually, I just want my blade back, and I want to get some fucking sleep!"

 

Watch your language you little ruggle!

 

"I don't think you're using that word correctly!"

 

Suddenly, a blast of cold wind hit them both, something else entered the room. Something big.

 

A Black Lion. It was nearly identical to the mechanical Lion Keith piloted, with exception of the flowing black mane that now circled its head and upper torso. Its wings were spread out, making it look even larger. It radiated power, asserting its dominance as soon as it stepped inside the lounge. Its glowing yellow eyes narrowed on the Red Lion, then Keith. The Black Paladin felt his connection with the Black Lion humming strongly in the back of his mind, searching for a way in. Keith allowed it in, and he immediately felt a rush of quintessence enter his mind. It was the same feeling he'd gotten used to whenever he piloted the Black Lion, except now it was different. It felt, stronger, less filtered and rawer power.

 

The Black Lion ceased the strong wind that had blown the two males down, a calm aura replacing it.

 

What. The fuck. Happened.

 

Keith would have laughed at that if he wasn't so terrified.

 

Red, we talked about this.

 

The Red Lion seemed to shrink in guilt, his shoulders hunching slightly inward, preparing for a lecture. Did we?

 

The Black Lion narrowed its eyes in a tired expression. Yes, yes we did. It made its way over to the Red Lion, each step seeming to echo in the dead silent room. I said we should hold it off until we were certain all the Paladins were ready. But nooo, you insisted that we went into this before I believed they were ready. And why was that? Tell me RED, WHY DID YOU DECIDE NOW WAS THE BEST TIME HM?

 

Lancehadanightmare, Red mumbled.

 

What was that? The Black Lion pressed, holding a paw up to his ear as if he was having a hard time hearing. When in fact, he'd heard perfectly well, because Red wasn't actually speaking aloud.

 

Lance had a nightmare! Red shouted, and Keith flinched back a little, but Black appeared unaffected.

 

That's right! Lance had a nightmare. Now, I don't have an exact knowledge of nightmares or how they affect people. However, I remember my previous pilot, Takashi, mentioning these nightmares quite often. Leading me to believe they are a common occurrence. Is this the case with Lance as well?

 

Red winced, showing sharp canines that gleamed in the lounge lighting. Yes…

 

Black got right up in Red's face and roared out "THEN WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS!?"

 

A large blast of wind hit Keith, sending him flying into the wall. Red barely moved an inch, fiery eyes blazing with determination.

 

"I wouldn't expect you to understand." He said aloud, voice explicitly clear despite the Blade he still held in his mouth. Then he walked over to Keith, who was groaning and holding his head while resting against the wall. Suddenly, Red grabbed Keith and slung him over his back, then he whipped around to glare at Black.

 

I'll handle my Paladins how I want. You handle yours however you want.

 

Keith is my Paladin. Black growled.

 

Red raised his nose in the air, an aura of superiority rising in place of the determined one that had been there a second ago. Yeah, but he likes me better. With that, Red turned to walk out the door.

 

Red, Black called after him, Think about what you're doing.

 

Red continued walking out.

 

Don't go through that door!

 

Red went out the door, it closed behind him with a woosh of air.

 

Black narrowed his eyes at the door, Green coming in to stand beside him.

 

I think I told him.

 

Green scoffed slightly and added with a tone that lacked all emotion. You are a Paragon of Leadership, Black.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

The last thing Keith remembered was fur.

 

Bright Red, slightly glowing, translucent fur.

 

It was pretty fluffy too, but he wouldn't admit that to anyone.

 

He woke up inside the hangar, right in front of the Red Lion. He sat up, looking around for said Lion, who he found sitting next to him. Keith almost reached for his knife but stopped remembering the Red Lion had stolen it. He locked eyes with the feline thief, then dropped his sight to his mouth and found the blade wasn't there.

 

"Hey," Keith spoke, voice slightly croaking due to his groggy state. "Where's my knife?"

 

The Red Lion grumbled out a Hello to you too Keith, you are very welcome from saving you from the wrath of Black. We haven't completely escaped his anger quite yet, there is bound to be a lecture in store for both of us.

 

"You mean just you, I didn't do anything to anger him. Black still loves me." Keith pointed out. "But that isn't important right now. Right now, I want you to tell me where my knife is."

 

Red looked up at the bigger Red Lion, It's inside the Red Lions cockpit.

 

Keith glared at the Red Lion. "You are aware that I am not your pilot anymore right? If I want to get my Blade back, I'm either going to have to break in or ask Lance to get it for me, and I am not too fond of that last option, so I'm breaking in."

 

The Red Lion's eyes widened. It jumped to its feet and ran over to guard its metal counterpart. Oh no, I think the fuck not. Suns, I'd thought taking to Lance would be the obvious option. However, you are right about the Pilot situation. So why not get your teleporting wolf to get your Blade down?

 

"Are you crazy? It would bite my head clean off!" he shouted.

 

Fine, then I will get it down for you.

 

Then he turned around and looked up at the large mechanical lion. In sync, the lions head turned down with a creak of metal against metal. Its eyes glowed, and a bright flash of red light came from the Spiritual Lion and it disappeared.

 

Seconds later it reappeared in another flash of light, knife held in its mouth. It walked towards Keith, and he held out his hand. Then right as it seemed like the lion was about to drop the blade into the palm of his hand, it took off down the hallway.

 

"God damn it! GET BACK HERE!" Keith yelled and raced after him.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

He was around the corner from the lounge now, the Red Lion couldn't have gone far. Kolivan would never forgive him if he'd lost his dagger, nor would Krolia.

 

Suddenly, Keith heard a noise coming from the lounge. He turned the corner and raced over, opening the doors with a woosh of air. Inside, sitting nicely on the couch was the Red Lion, knife held securely in his mouth.

 

Keith grit his teeth and launched himself over the cushions to tackle the Lion. It evaded his grasp and threw a cushion at him, which Keith barely dodged. He scrambled over the plush terrain and tackled the Lion in a headlock. He tried to free his Blade from Lion's mouth with no such luck. Red pushed him down and rolled away, jumping up on the couch to pounce on top of Keith. He let out a surprised laugh and dodged, collapsing on top of the Red Lion and using his hands to vigorously rub his belly like he would for Shiro's cat. The Red Lion purred and wiggled and ended up kicking Keith in the side of the head, sending him crashing down onto some pillows. Soon after, Red was tackling him in a bear hug, knife long forgotten on the couch as the two boys were giggling on the floor like giddy messes.

 

Ahem.

 

Keith's laugh cut out and he quickly snapped to attention. Standing up and whirling around to face the Black Lion who had just entered the room. Oh quiznak, this won't end well. Keith thought as he remembered the last time Black had found them in the lounge.

 

Black slowly walked over to one of the discarded cushions at the side of the room. It was covered in light tears and claw marks. He picked it up and it fell limp in his mouth, a couple of exotic feathers falling out. It raised its stare to glare at the two boys and then suddenly whipped the pillow around to smack the Red Lion right in the face.

 

It was an all out war.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Keith entered his room with Black at his side. Red had left a while ago to go back to Lance and the Blue Lion, so Keith decided to try and go back to sleep. He collapsed on top of his bed, bouncing slightly as the mattress got used to his sudden weight. He looked across his room to where his space wolf was resting. He remembered his mom had wanted to call it Yorak, but he wanted to wait to name it. Things that had names became tamed, then they would never run away, and they'd be sad if he had ever left. Keith wasn't so sure where he'd heard that before, but he found it to be pretty good advice. He wouldn't let himself get too attached, this was probably temporary. If they ever returned to earth, he would never be able to keep his new friend. The military would probably confiscate it for science.

 

He stared up at the ceiling, but he wasn't really looking at it. He was lost in his own mind, a scary place to be sometimes, but tonight he was uncovering old memories from his two year trip with Krolia. The castle was silent, save for the soft humming of the engine that filled the quiet hallways. The Black Lion seemed to be making noise as well, a quiet purr ever so often that was soothing to listen too. Keith felt his eyelids begin to get heavier and heavier, and then they fell shut.

 

Black raised his head from where it was resting on his two front paws. He looked up at the Black Paladin with consideration. Then he stood up and walked over to his bed, laying his head on top of the boys. He opened the connection farther and farther…

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Keith slowly opened his eyes to find himself in the astral plane. He whipped his head around to see a humongous version of the Mechanical Black Lion staring down at him. It's yellow eyes bored into his very soul, gleaming with quintessence. He stared up at the feline, then he turned around to observe his surroundings. The last time he was here, Shiro was too. Would Shiro be here this time as well?

 

Takashi's connection with me has been severed. We are no longer compatible, you are the only candidate able to be my pilot.

 

Keith stared up at the Black Lion.

 


"What did you bring me here for?"

 

To answer your questions. I have no doubt you wanted to know how exactly Takashi died.

 

Keith shivered, "Yeah, no thanks." he said despite all the burning questions he had.

 

No need to hide your urges Paladin. I know you must be dying for answers.  Heh. dying. Ge it? Cause Takashi-

 

Keith rolled his eyes, how could the leader of Voltron be so childish? "Yeah, I get it."

 

The Black Lion giggled. Actually giggled. Keith glared at it with wide eyes.

 

Do not look at me like that. Takashi helped me to unwind, trust me when I say I would be much more uptight if not for him. Speaking of which, I was wondering if you and I could participate in more of these "bonding exercises" when Takashi and I did them, they were quite amusing.

 

Keith blinked. Was this giant cat asking him to play with it?

 

"Yeah… sure. I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight anyway."

 

Keith swore he could see happiness dancing in the Black Lions glowing yellow eyes, despite it being completely mechanical and stationary.

 

Fantastic! Let us not waste another tick, I cannot wait to do this again!

 

Suddenly, the Black Lion grew smaller and smaller, before Keith realized it was moving further away from him.

 

"Wait, where are you going? Stop-"

 

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Keith snapped his eyes open with a start. He sat up and turned to look at the Black Lion. It was smiling, teeth all sharp and glistening in the light of the hallway.

 

Come on!

 

Keith blinked a couple times to get the sleep out of his eyes, then he jumped out of bed and raced after the Black Lion.

 

"So, what did you have in mind for these Bonding exercises?" he asked while running alongside the excited feline.

 

I will show you once we get into the hangar. Takashi kept all of his "bonding materials" inside the Black Lion.

 

Keith pushed away the thought of how dirty that sounded and continued following Black until they reached the Black Lion hangar.

 

Black ran ahead of him, yellow eyes glowing with excitement. The mechanical Black Lion lowered its jaw down in front of them. Black bounded inside with Keith following close behind.

 

Okay, now unlock this compartment.

 

Keith glanced down at the large compartment in the hub of the Lion, right below the control panel. Then he turned to Black, who was bouncing his front two paws in anticipation.

 

"Why can't you do it. This is your body isn't it?"

 

Black stopped jumping suddenly and gave Keith a glare.

 

I want you to do it.

 

Keith rolled his eyes and opened the compartment, admittedly, he was pretty excited to see what Black was fussing about. If this ancient sentient lion was excited about something, it must have been pretty important.

 

The first thing Keith saw was a case of nail polish, it was the same nail polish that he'd noticed during Lance and Allura's spa nights they loved to invite him to for some unknown reason. He also noticed multiple Altean children's books, a small pack of cards, and a large black case. He reached for the case and opened it with a snap. Inside was a giant tube of eyeliner.

 

Keith leveled an unimpressed glare to the Black Lion who seemed unable to contain his excitement.

 

Yes! I am so excited to have another sleepover!

 

Sleepover.

 

I am about to have a sleepover with a giant sentient black lion.

 

This is not what I thought I'd be doing with my night.

 

Keith closed his eyes and sighed deeply. Then he looked back over to where the Black Lion was patiently sitting, except he found that instead, it was sitting in the pilots' seat. It turned to look at him and patted the seat expectantly. Keith had no idea how both of them would be able to fit in the seat, but he gathered the ‘bonding materials' and walked over there anyway.

 

Black's eyes glowed brightly, then abruptly shrunk down to the size of a small cat.

 

Now usually, when Takashi and I had these sleepovers, he would go outside for all these activities. However, now that you have unlocked my spirit, we can do this inside the cockpit instead!

 

Keith tried not to burst out laughing right then and there, Black would not appreciate that. As he sat down, Black crawled into his lap and held out one paw, showing his pure white nails. Keith glanced down at the bottles of nail polish and picked them up, careful not to jostle Black, who seemed to be making himself quite comfortable.

 

"So… what color do you want?" he asked.

 

Surprise me.

 

He wasn't going to argue with that. Keith picked up the brightest shade of yellow he could find, the label was written in Altean so he couldn't really understand what it said, he unscrewed the lid and drew the brush out. It seemed to gleam in the dim lighting of the cockpit, Keith swore as it dripped onto his bare foot.

 

Language.

 

Keith shot a glare in Black's direction, finding the lions' eyes closed and paw wavering slightly. He took it gently, bringing the brush down and squinting as he tried to cleanly paint strokes onto the Lions' nails. Black's paw appeared to be completely opaque around the area Keith held. He dipped the brush back in the bottle and blew slightly on the nails he had already painted. This was routine for him, having gone through a nail polish phase himself, where he'd repaint his nails every night in a different shade of black or red, sometimes even purple.

 

He began painting on the other paw, and Black started talking.

 

The first time Takashi and I did this together, he told me about his nightmare.

 

Keith stopped for a few seconds, then continued slower in order to focus on what Black was saying.

 

He told me that he'd had this nightmare before.

 

He was in the arena again, fighting someone with a mask covering their face. He slashed through their leg with his hand, they fell and let out a curdling scream. When Takashi moved to finish the job, the person ripped off their helmet. He told me the person looked like Samuel Holt, one of the people who'd joined him on the Kerberos mission. He told me he couldn't control himself, he slashed through his chest without a second thought.

 

Samuel wasn't always the victim in these nightmares, sometimes it was Matthew, or Adam, or even you Keith. No matter who it was, he always did the same thing. Killing them without a second glance, not even recognizing their faces. He couldn't stand these nightmares, but with time they became more bearable. Then it got worse.

 

He had the same nightmare, but this time he was in the training room sparring with you.

 

Keith inhaled slowly, pausing with the brush half in the bottle.

 

It went the same way, and he couldn't take it anymore. At least the other ones were in the arena so he knew they were nightmares. Then when he woke up he could tell it was all because of his PTSD from being in Galra captivity, but when it was in the training room…

 

The Black Lion opened his eyes to stare into Keith's.

 

He couldn't tell what was real and what wasn't.

 

Keith let out all the breath he'd been holding in. He cleared his throat and looked back at the nail polish bottle.

 

"And then what happened?"

 

The Black Lion closed his eyes and continued.

 

Well, he came to me. That was the first time we had a sleepover, it was a fantastic bonding moment, really strengthened our relationship. Of course, I cannot just get rid of his PTSD, that requires therapy. Or so he's told me, but I did help him get rid of the nightmare. He slept inside my cockpit, and I concentrated our bond inside of the nightmare. I turned you into the Galra and the training room into the arena. Every time he came back, I did this. Eventually, his nightmares became simple dreams or fighting in the arena. I would call it a nightmare, but it wasn't terrorizing him anymore. It was merely an unpleasant dream.

 

Keith finished the nails on all four of Black's paws. He screwed the cap back on the bottle and placed it down with the rest of the bottles.

 

"You can open your eyes now," he said while reaching for the red bottle of nail polish.

 

Black looked down at his nails and let out a purr of content.

 

 

 

Good job Paladin. I like the choice of color, very original.

 

Keith smiled to himself and held out the bottle to Black.

 

"Now do mine," he said with a slight smirk.

 

They sat in silence for a while, Black painting slow and slightly shaky strokes onto Keith's nails.

 

"Hey Black?" Keith said breaking the silence.

 

Yes, Keith?

 

"Thanks for doing this with me, and for telling me about Shiro's nightmares. I wish I could have known sooner so I could help him."

 

To be fair, Takashi would avoid telling you at all costs, he wouldn't want to worry you.

 

"Yeah, I guess you're right. This is fun, I'm glad you talked me into this."

 

So am I.

 

 


Okay now get the eyeliner, I want my wings to be so long I can fly away from all this bullshit.

Chapter Text

Here’s the thing.

 

Hunk hates Monopoly.

 

Not just because he’s horrible at it, although that is a significant part of it, but because it tears his friends' relationships apart.

 

So when Romelle asked him to play an Altean game called Empire which happened to look suspiciously like space Monopoly, you can’t blame Hunk for being less than thrilled.

 

Especially now that she had invited Pidge to play along with them.

 

“Is everyone good on the rules?” Romelle asked cheerfully.

 

“Oh yeah,” Pidge said while cracking her knuckles in a way that made Hunk cringe “Bring it on, I’m going to destroy all your quiznaking asses.”

 

Romelle raised a questioning eyebrow but didn’t push it, she’d been learning to keep her curious notions to herself, especially considering nobody answered her questions half the time. Which, initially Hunk thought was pretty rude… but he couldn’t help but think they were getting on his nerves as well.

 

Pidge’s voice snapped Hunk out of his inner dialogue “I’m going to chose the Scaultrite token.” she said as she placed a small white marble figurine that looked distinctly like Scaultrite lenses on the corner of the board which Hunk assumed was supposed to be the “Go” space.

 

“Uh… I guess I’ll go with the Spork.” Hunk said while picking up a smaller marble version of the utensil.

 

“Alright, I shall choose...The crown!” Romelle said excitedly, picking up a model crown that looked somewhat like Allura’s crown and placing it on her head.

 

“Bow before me, for I shall be your new queen! Queen Romelle!” she ordered in a mock royalty voice.

 

Hunk bowed over dramatically while saying in the same accent “My league”.

 

Pidge just looked at them with a deadpan stare. “Can we start already? I’m feeling lucky today” she added with a wicked smirk.

 

Hunk tried to keep the look of terror off his face, despite Pidge’s age and small stature she could be pretty intimidating if she wanted to. She mentioned it being something about “asserting her dominance”... whatever that means.

 

 

Romelle picked up a small tablet, “Okay, the rules state that in order to determine the first person to roll the die should be the one who has either slain most enemies in combat or holds the oldest amount of years on the Nebular Pine.” she said. Then she looked up at the paladins and winced. “I don’t suppose you two have any idea of what a Nebular Pine is, do you?” she asked.

 

Hunk and Pidge both shook their heads. “Even if we did”, Pidge spoke up, “It would probably be easier to do it the way it’s done on Earth. We simply roll the die, and whoever ends up with the highest combination goes first.”

 

Romelle nodded, her blonde pigtails bouncing slightly “That sounds reasonable.” she agreed.

 

“Alright, I’ll go first!” Hunk said and picked up the die in his hands. He cupped them and shook them around before letting them go on the center of the octagon-shaped board.

 

“6 and 2, that makes 8!” he exclaimed.

 

“Great counting Hunk, I’m so proud you managed to pass kindergarten level addition,” Pidge said sarcastically.

 

Hunk threw her a glare and handed the die to Romelle, “Since you decided to be rude Pidge, I’m letting Romelle go next.”

 

Pidge huffed “Fine, see if I care, I’ll still beat your asses.”

 

“Language.” came Shiro’s voice from another room.

 

“Sorry, Dad!” Pidge yelled back mockingly

 

Romelle cupped the two dice in her palm before kissing them both individually, Pidge and Hunk exchanged glances and then Romelle released the die onto the board.

 

“Twelve!” she shouted gleefully.

 

“Wha- but, h- how?!” Pidge stuttered. Hunk just simply gazed at Romelle with a look full of awe.

 

“That’s just a little trick I picked up from my cousin whenever our families would get together for a junior tournament,” she said cheerfully while picking up the dice to hand them over to Pidge.

 

“So like, Altean’s version of Family Game Night?” Hunk asked while Pidge was shaking the dice inside her cupped hands vigorously.

 

“I guess so, although I’d have to know what Family Game Night is before I know for sure,” she said.

 

“Oh, well every family is different, but in my family, we’d all gather around the living room on Friday night and play a couple board games while eating my Mom’s Paifala, then we’d watch a movie. The winner of the board games would get to pick which one, the last time I won, we watched Moana.” Hunk said while standing up.

 

“Speaking of snacks, I’m going to go make some. Any requests?”

 

Pidge threw down her dice with a loud rattle, “Damn! Only 10- Uh yeah, can I get some of those Goo chip thingies you make sometimes?”

 

Hunk nodded with a small smile, then he turned to Romelle, “What about you? Anything you want in particular?”

 

Romelle looked puzzled for a moment then she stood up too, “Actually, do you mind If I come with you? I’m not exactly sure what the options are here.”

 

Pidge snorted, “Don’t worry about it, Hunk here can make just about anything. However, I wouldn’t be against getting familiar with the rules, also I call Banker. I can deal you guys out while your fixing snacks.”

 

Hunk chuckled, “Okay, but just know that I’m going to be checking that we all have the same amount when we get back.”

 

Pidge threw her hand to her chest and gasped in mock offense, “How dare you accuse me, Pidge Gunderson-Holt, of cheating at Space Monopoly.”

 

Hunk shook his head in exasperation, “You spend too much time with Lance. Come on Romelle, let’s get cracking.”

 

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Let’s get one thing clear.

 

Hunk loves keeping his working space clean, with the exception of his engineering workshop set up in the garage at home, but other than that he likes to keep things tidy.

 

So inviting Romelle to help him prepare snacks for the mini-game night? Not his best idea.

 

“What’s this thing do?”

 

“Is this cool enough to eat yet?”

 

“Can I lick this?”

 

“What kind of cookie is that?”

 

“That looks like Yalmore dung”

 

Finally, Hunk had enough.

 

“Romelle! Could you just... sit down over there and wait patiently until I get this into the oven?” He said, using his spoon to point to the bar stools surrounding the island.

 

“Oh, sure!” Romelle said, hopping off the counter and carrying a small bag of Pinackle Berries over to the island.

 

“Thanks.” Hunk said, sighing in relief. Now with the absence of Romelle’s presence and constant questions he could finally ease into a steady workflow.

 

He continued stirring the light pink filling for the Paifala, the Pinackle Berries simmering and combining with the tan sugar he’d picked up from a farming planet a couple months ago. He stirred a couple more times before adding some of Kaltenecker’s milk that he’d gotten from Lance a couple days ago after he’d made Milkshakes.

 

He then turned to the island, combining some Pinackle Juice with an imitation of cornstarch he’d accidentally made once when trying to create flour out of, well, a flower.

 

He added the cornstarch juice to the square-shaped saucepan, stirring it around and humming delightedly at the pleasant smell of it.

 

“Romelle,” he called out while stirring, “Can you come over here for a tick?”

 

He heard the sound of a chair scraping against the floor and footsteps walking over to him.

 

“What do you need?” Romelle said, right in his ear.

 

Hunk startled and nearly dropped his spoon.

 

“Geez Romelle, don’t scare me like that. Anyway, I was wondering if you could just stir this stuff in the pan until you see it thicken. Can you do that for me?”

 

Romelle nodded and took the spoon from Hunk, stirring the berry mixture slowly like she had seen Hunk do previously.

 

“Great job, you’re doing fine.” Hunk said while reaching over to turn the head of the stove down. “I’m going to start making the dough, make sure to tell me as soon as you see it thicken, and keep your eyes on the pan at all times. We don’t want the filling to burn.”

 

Romelle nodded and continued stirring without looking up, her face set in concentration, a slight wrinkle in between her brows and her shoulders tensed.

 

Hunk chuckled, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to look so intense, it probably won’t catch fire the second you look away, you can relax a bit.”

 

Romelle let out a sigh as she released the tension from her body, “Alrighty Hunk, you’re the boss!” she said, turning around quickly to give a two-fingered salute.

 

Nodding, Hunk turned around and got another bowl from the cabinet below the counter, inside he placed mock flour (which was a pale yellow color), some baking powder-ish stuff, and margarine he’d made from more of Kaltenecker milk. He washed his hands in the sink beside him before reaching in and mixed the dough. It turned into a crumbly mixture and he added some Koktrank Milk that he’d harvested himself (with great difficulty and the help of Keith’s Bayard).

 

“Hunk, the sauce stuff has thickened!” Romelle said, as she took the pan off the stove and placed it to the side.

 

“Awesome, just leave it on the counter to cool.” Hunk said while mixing the dough.

 

He rolled the dough on the surface of the counter, which was covered in mock flour. Then he separated the red-orange dough into 6 equal pieces before rolling them flat into medium sized circles. Romelle came over next to him and watched intently, picking a piece of the dough off from one of the circled and placing it in her mouth.

 

“Hey! Don’t eat that, we need it for the Paifala!” Hunk cried out, slapping Romelle’s hands away from the dough before she could get any more.

 

Romelle pouted and went over to turn off the stove, Hunk rolled his eyes fondly and started to clean up some of his workspace. He’d dealt with a lot of moochers in his kitchen before, Lance is one of the worst, constantly waiting for samples and always licking the spoons clean even if Hunk wasn’t done with them. Still, he was his best friend, and Lance had toned it down to asking and sometimes even helped Hunk cook. He remembered Lance mentioning his Mom had taught him to cook as soon as he was old enough to be near a stove. Pidge was also a big moocher, stealing the majority of snacks before they were even completely cool and yet still complaining whenever she burnt her tongue. Hunk snickered at the memory of her gulping down water packets while Hunk and Lance had laughed at her while she muttered profanities under her breath.

 

“Okay! Now we should be ready to start filling these babies.” Hunk said triumphantly, turning around to grab the now cool saucepan from the counter.

 

“Sounds fun! ...How do we do that” Romelle asked, leaning against the island.

 

“Well,” Hunk said while carrying the pan over and reaching to grab one of two sporks from the counter, “We simply take the filling, and spread it out over half of the dough. Here, I’ll do an example.”

 

He took the spork and scooped up a small amount of filling, spreading it over half of the dough with the back of the utensil.

 

“See? Easy peasy, now you try,” he said handing the remaining spork to Romelle. Cautiously, she took it and scooped out some filling, spilling a little on the counter.

 

“Quizack,” she muttered and plopped it onto the dough, spreading it over half of it and making sure to leave room around the edges to fold it up, just as Hunk had done.

 

“Awesome, now we have to do it to the rest of them. It’s gonna go faster with the both of us,” he said smiling at Romelle.

 

She beamed at him, and eagerly took another scoop of filling from the saucepan, spreading it around another dough patty. Hunk did the same, and just in a couple Dobashes they had successfully filled and sealed the Paifala. Hunk placed them all on a baking pan and put them in the oven for over half a Varga.

 

Hunk dusted his dough covered hands off on his apron and looked out onto the mess of a counter before him.

 

“Oh boy, this might take a while.” he sighed.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

ミ✧Okay! How did the meetings with Keith and Lance go?✧

 

ミ✭I will admit, Keith and I had some… issues but everything turned out okay in the end.✭

 

ミ✫Black... Your aura feels happier than usual, what happened?✫

 

ミ★Keith and I had a sleepover!★

 

✭You wHAT?✭

 

ミ✲Wow, color me surprised.✲

 

✭But… you’re already green..✭

 

✲It’s an expression Red.✲

 

✭Right! I knew that…✭

 

✫Anyway, Yellow, our meeting with Lance went very well! He was having some nightmares, as you know already, so we decided to pitch in and help him.✫

 

✭His night was way better after that, when he woke up we decided to plan some kind of rooming situation where we would comfort him in shifts until his night terrors disappeared.✭

 

✧So… temporary roommates?✧

 

✫I suppose so, yes.✫

 

✲Oh my god, they were roommates…✲

 

★Green, stop memeing, Red, and Blue, great job bonding with your Paladin. I have no doubt this should improve Lance’s skills and awareness in battle now that he is able to get a full night’s rest. Takashi told me that is very important for a human’s energy and motor functions. Lack of sleep can lead to drowsiness, unawareness, and excessive yawning.★

 

✧That sounds great! I’m so proud of you guys! So Black, any chance I am able to interact with my Paladin?✧

 

★Well, as we’ve previously established, the overall reactions from our Paladins have been positive so far. I say give it a shot, however, the final decision is up to you and what you think is best for Hunk.★

 

✧Alright! Then I’m going to go introduce myself! Wish me luck, although I have a really good feeling about this meeting!✧

 

✲Luck is wished. I be-leaf in you Yellow.✲

 

★Green.★

 

✲Yeessssss..?✲

 

★Was that a fucking pun.★

 

✧…✧

 

✭…✭

 

✫…✫

 

✭What’s that Lance?✭

 

✫You need Red and I to come over right away? Well, I wouldn’t want to keep you waiting!✫ミ

 

✭I’m coming, my Paladin!✭ミ

 

✧I would make up a fake excuse for leaving before the tension in the astral plane becomes too much, but unlike Red and Blue, I actually have one so… yep. Operation Cinnamon Roll is a go. Be nice you two.✧ミ

 

✲Wow, thanks for leaving guys, really feeling the love over here.✲

 

★Green.★

 

✲...Yeah?✲

 

★I am so fucking proud of you.★ミ

 

✲Wait wha- BLACK YOU CAN’T JUST LEAVE AFTER SAYING THAT! COME ON!! WE HAD A BONDING MOMENT!! I MADE A PLANT RELATED PUN! QUIZNAK.✲ミ

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Since the snacks would take a while to make, they decided to move the game into the Kitchen.

 

“Okay, five more Quintents before the Paifala is done, here are your goo chips Pidge!” Hunk said while passing the bowl over to the smaller girl.

 

“Thanks, Hunk! Okay, I’ve figured out how much money everyone is getting, which took a while because I couldn’t find my Altean translator.” Pidge said, taking a handful of chips and putting them in her mouth.

 

“You would find it easier if you cleaned up that room once in a while, the last time I was in there I swore I could see eyes looking at me from one of your clutter piles!” Hunk said, taking his stack of Groggeries and lining them up on his side of the board.

 

“Oh yeah! Don’t worry about those little guys, they’re just some little aliens I befriended when I landed on that trash planet. Anyway, everyone gets 2,550 Groggeries, don’t ask me what they are worth, because these things are so old, the Altean translator can’t even read them.”

 

“I can probably read them,” Romelle spoke up, reaching for a chip from Pidge’s bowl, “We used to play a very similar game to Empire’s back on my home planet. However, we would use GAC instead of Groggeries. I honestly don’t think Groggeries are even made anymore, how old is this thing?”

 

“If it was in the castle when Allura and Coran got frozen in the pods, then probably well over ten thousand deca-phoebes ago.” Hunk said while carefully arranging his Groggeries.

 

“Wait, wHAT?!” Romelle shouted, “Allura and Coran have been trapped in pods for ten thousand deca-phoebes?! How is that possible? They are almost as old as Zarkon, they should be dead!”

 

Pidge shrugged and placed another handful of chips in her mouth. “Weol, the cayro pofs konda slowed doown the aefing profess. Traffing fem if ah frofen-like sfate in time.”

 

“Pidge,” Hunk scolded, “What have I told you about talking with your mouth full?”

 

Pidge flipped him off but swallowed the chips anyway. “Fuck off Hunk, you aren’t Shiro, you can’t tell me what to do.”

 

“Language, Pidge.” came the voice of Shiro from somewhere in the castle.

 

“Fuckin’ dad senses,” Pidge muttered and kicked at the wall.

 

“I heard that, and don’t kick the Castle,” he replied.

 

Pidge rolled her eyes before turning to hand the dice to Romelle. “Alright, because Romelle has some god-like ability she rolled a perfect twelve, meaning that she gets to move first.”

 

Romelle took the dice in her hands, again repeating the same trick she released them onto the board with a small clatter.

 

“Yes! Nine, which should land me ooonnn..” Romelle moved her token to land on a picture of a wonky looking question mark.

 

“Uhh, what exactly does that space do?” Hunk asked.

 

“Oh fuc- I mean darn. There’s another mechanic to this Monopoly thing. See, we all get this card because we are corrupt business peoples and shi- crap. So throughout the game, the other way to get other players out is by proving to the police that they have done bad things yadda yadda. So essentially the card tells us all our boo-boo’s and we have to expose other peoples. Every time someone lands on… whatever kind of messed up punctuation point that is, they get to choose someone to reveal a corrupt fact about themselves. Reveal all three facts and they can be put on trial and arrested, or in this case, kicked out of the game.” Pidge explained.

 

“So… kinda like Clue?”

 

“Hunk, what the fuc- hell, damn this is annoying, did you even play Clue? It’s about a dinner party where someone gets killed and you have to find all the-”

 

“I choose you Pidge! Tell me something about yourself.” Romelle interrupted, which Hunk was glad for.

 

“What? Son of a bitch, I didn’t even get to finish!”

 

The exasperated sigh of Shiro could be heard from Galaxies away, it was enough to make Hunk feel the second-hand shame, even though he knew he didn’t do anything wrong. Suddenly, Shiro entered the kitchen, standing there in a robe and lion slippers.

 

“I’m not mad at you Pidge, just disappointed,” he said before walking out again.

 

“Ouch, critical hit,” Hunk muttered as he turned back to face Pidge’s look of absolute dismay.

 

“Quizak, I didn’t even swear and I still feel guilty,” Romelle said.

 

Pidge got up and ran out, yelling out a quick “Be right back, gotta make dad proud of me or something!”

 

Hunk shook his head with a fond smile and Romelle sighed. “Now I can’t know what was on her card, plus it would be her turn right now.”

 

“Hmm, on the plus side, this gives us a chance to get to know the rules of the game.” Hunk pointed out.

 

“I suppose you’re right. Besides, we have just started, so it isn’t like we’re faced with a life-threatening decision right now.”

 

They both eyes each other wearily and hoped to whatever divine being, or Allura was listening that they wouldn’t be cursed with such luck.

 

Suddenly, a shrill beeping emerged from the oven, telling them the Paifala was done. The two go up and walked over to the oven, Hunk putting on oven mitts before reaching inside and placing the Paifala out of the oven and onto the counter to cool.

 

“I hope these make Pidge feel better, I hate seeing her look so upset. It’s like looking at a kicked Zeebog pup.” Romelle said.

 

“I have no idea what it is, but I agree. Plus it’s just, an all-around unpleasant experience for someone’s who’s sad.” Hunk added.

 

Suddenly, Hunk felt a rush of quintessence. He could tell it was quintessence because of how his energy and adrenaline increased, as well as his awareness and stability. He always felt this way whenever he was n the presence of the Yellow Lion, it’s fortifying aura making him feel strong and protected. He glanced over to the doorway and saw a glowing Yellow Lion, it’s mane was soft and golden looking, it’s eyes shining like amber. It stepped into the kitchen and slowly made its way over to a very shocked Hunk and a very confused/concerned Romelle.

 

“Hunk, are you alright? You look a little pale.” Romelle asked cautiously.

 

“A-are you seeing this thing? Tell me I-i’m not the- I’m not going insane.” Hunk stuttered in shock when he was able to find his voice again.

 

Uhh, hello? I’m sorry to startle you Hunk, I am the Yellow Lion. I will not harm you, and she cannot see me, just, wanted to let you know that. Nice to… finally, meet you face to face?

 

Hunk’s eyes widened as he stared at the gorgeous glowing creature before him. He recognized that voice in his head, it matched the pitch of purring he had become so accustomed to. He really was speaking to the Yellow Lion. Er, not speaking, more like telepathically communicating, which didn’t seem possible until now.

 

This is so cool slash frightening and I am literally speechless right now.

 

That was… a better reaction than what I was anticipating honestly. Good to know you aren’t going to try and kill me.

 

“Kill you? Why would I try to kill you?” Hunk asked, surprised.

 

“Uh, kill who Hunk? Kill me?! Please don’t kill me, I was really starting to like it here.” Romelle said, slowly backing away from the Yellow Paladin.

 

“What!? Uh- no no no, I’m not going to kill you Romelle. I was talking to the Yellow Lio- er, me! Yeah, I was… talking… to myself.” Hunk stuttered.

 

Nice job! She’s totally going to buy it!

 

“Yeah, I don’t buy it,” Romelle said, crossing her arms.

 

What? Your cover was perfect, she’s just a skeptic. That’s not very nice. Here, I’ll reveal myself to her so you don’t look crazy.

 

With that, the Yellow Lion glowed brightly before solidifying completely, losing its slight transparency.

 

“Now this is going to take a lot of energy out of me so whatever questions you have should be asked carefully and in an orderly fashion.” He spoke in a voice that was strong and yet soothing.

 

Romelle and Hunk (but mostly Romelle) gaped at the Lion for a solid five ticks before bombarding it with questions.

 

“Who are you?”

 

“How long were you able to do this?”

 

“Are you the Yellow Lion?”

 

“Can the others do this too?”

 

“How are you glowing?”

 

“Have all the other guys met you?”

 

“Are you the only one of your kind?”

 

“Why aren’t you able to do this for very long?”

 

“How did you get in the castle and find us? This place is HUGE!”

 

At Romelle’s shouting, Hunk stopped and stared at her. She blushed, embarrassed, then muttered: “I was curious…”

 

The Yellow Lion sighed and then spoke again. “Well, all of those questions went against my two guidelines which I created specifically for the purpose of answering your questions quickly and efficiently, but I suppose I can do them all in one go.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Yellow proceeded to answer all the questions at once. “I am the Yellow Lion, I have been able to do this since last mission,I am indeed the Yellow Lion, we are all able to do this, I am made of mostly quintessence which glows, nobody but you two have met me yet however they all will in due time, I am not the only one of my kind, there are four- well technically five more like me, being visible to everyone outside of those I have a bond with is tiring and requires a lot of energy from my main power, If I want to do it again I will need to recharge, I followed the bond that Hunk and I share, It gives off something like a homing beacon that directs me towards my Paladin in case of an emergency.”

 

Yellow released the breath with a woosh.“Are there any more questions?” he asked.

 

Romelle and Hunk glanced at each other before looking back at the Yellow Lion.

 

“Nah I’m good.” Hunk said with a shrug.

 

“Maybe once I can think of more, but I kind of want to get back to playing our game and those Paifalas are calling me,” Romelle added.

 

Yellow let out a sigh of relief and laid down on the floor. “I hope you don’t mind If I disappear again, I feel awfully winded,” he said to Romelle.

 

“Go ahead, I don’t mind. Hunk, let me know when I’m about to trip on him or something.” Romelle said.

 

Hunk nodded and placed the now cool Paifala onto multiple plates, which he carried over to the island where they had set up the game.

 

“Romelle, can you go get Pidge, I don’t want her Paifala to get cold before she has a chance to try them.”

 

Romelle gave a single nod of her head and left the kitchen in search of the Green Paladin.

 

Soo…

 

“I think she’s okay with you.”

 

Oh thank the stars, It would have been very awkward otherwise.

 

Yellow stood up on his hind legs and leaned over the counter.

 

Now, any chance I’m able to have on of those tasty looking treats?

 

Hunk looked at the Lion, who was licking his lips in hunger.

 

“Are you even able to eat things?” Hunk asked, moving the plate away from Yellow.

 

I guess we’ll find out?

 

Hunk glared at Yellow’s puppy dog eyes, which shouldn’t be very effective considering the Lion had no pupils, but it made Hunk soft anyways.

 

“Ugh, I’m a sucker for cute animals, here.” Hunk said, handing a Paifala from his plate over to Yellows awaiting mouth. “Just don’t get too many crumbs on the floor.”

 

Yellow eagerly took the pastry from Hunk and leaped onto a chair, chewing carefully and glancing down ever so often to see if any crumbs fell down.

 

Hunk watched it with curious eyes, studying its movements. It moved with significantly more ease and looked a lot less mechanical than it’s robot counterpart. Or was it more like an outer shell? He’d have to ask as soon as Yellow was done eating. Did the Lions have taste buds? Oh god, what if the food went right through them?! They are spirits after all, maybe, possibly.

 

I can feel you worrying, Hunk. Don’t fret, the food isn’t passing through me and it tastes delicious.

 

Suddenly, Hunk was wrapped in the feeling of calm and peace. He blinked twice and shook his head.

 

“Yeah, sorry about that, I can get too caught up in my own head sometimes. I tend to worry a lot.” Hunk said, rubbing his neck in embarrassment.

 

That’s okay, everyone can succumb to their own anxieties from time to time, it’s a totally normal thing to do. Of course, it isn’t pleasant by any means, but you're not the only one who worries a lot. The other Lions think I worry too much as well, maybe we can help each other with that. Grounding and reminding each other that we aren’t alone and that everything will turn out okay, and even if it doesn’t, then we can find a way to fix it.

 

“Wow,” Hunk said in awe. “Where have you been all my life?”

 

Yellow chuckled, Inside a giant sentient yellow lion of course, where else?

 

Hunk laughed, “Man, we can find friends in the strangest places huh?”

 

Yellow smiled.

 

Yeah, I suppose we can.

Chapter Text

Pidge had done the one thing she had promised not to do.

 

She disappointed Shiro. Which in hindsight, probably isn’t the only thing she should have promised not to do. She should have promised to respect her teammates, or not commit murder, but hey, this is space, so if a little stabbing goes on, then who’s to care?

 

Shiro, probably.

 

Which is why Pidge promised not to disappoint him, because most things that would disappoint Shiro included disrespecting her teammates, committing murder, and swearing.

 

Which is exactly what Pidge had done.

 

Swear. She, Pidge Gunderson-Holt, had said a bad word.

 

Doesn’t that sound childish? She thought so, protecting your child’s innocent little eardrums from the forbidden vocabulary that was ‘swear words’ was pointless in her opinion, because they would only learn one way or another, and then the cycle of dumbasses would continue on and on until one day someone decided “this is pointless bullshit, hey kid wanna know a couple secret words?”

 

That person was going to be Pidge.

 

After, ya know, she apologized to Shiro for swearing. Which was against her master plan but, hey, it was Shiro, the poor guy had been abducted by aliens, forced to fight in an arena, broke out of prison, crash landed on earth, proceeded to adopt four children, and then went right back up into space where he became the leader of an ultimate weapon for saving the universe from the hands of the exact same aliens that had previously kidnapped him.

 

The dude was probably exhausted, Pidge knew she would be.

 

He had white hair for fuck's sake, her dad had white hair, and he was older than Shiro.

 

Maybe, probably, she didn’t know, whatever.

 

“Shiro! Shiroooo!? Hey, look, I’m sorry okay? If you can hear my swearing from the halls you can probably hear my apologies too! I don’t just apologize to anyone Shiro, I have a reputation to uphold!” she called out.

 

Looking for someone?

 

Pidge whirled around, accidentally tripping over her feet and falling over, “AH FUCK-”

 

A magnificent shimmering Green Lion stood before her, it’s fur matched her Lion to every refined detail, It looked significantly less mechanical and it appeared translucent, like a hologram. It’s gleaming yellow eyes reminded Pidge of fireflies, looking down at her with a hint of mirth.

 

You okay there?

 

“Holy… Shit…”

 

Hey, I thought you were in trouble for swearing?

 

“Fu- I mean crap, yeah. I’m uh, looking for…”

 

Shiro?

 

“Yee.”

 

I can show you where he is if you want, I saw him walk towards his room.

 

“Yeah, thanks that would be… great, fantastic, coolcoolcool very cool.”

 

Green smiled down at the flustered girl. Everything alright Pidge? You don’t look so good.

 

Pidge stood up and looked the Green Lion in the eye, she gulped down the mass of questions building in her throat and said, very eloquently.

 

“You’re the Green kitty.”

 

Close, but not quite. Green replied, smirking.

 

Pidge facepalmed, “Ugh, yeah right I meant Lion. Oh my GOD, this is so cool! How long were you able to do this? Have you been like this the whole time? Does this take up any energy? How do the mechanics work? Is this basically like a programmed simulator dedicated to bond with the assigned paladin in order to establish a better bond??”

 

Woah, Woah, Woah. Slow down Pidgey. I can only answer so many questions. Honestly, I think Black might be able to tell you more about me then well, me.

 

“There are mORE OF YOU?!” Pidge couldn’t believe what she was hearing, this was amazing! A Green Lion AI interactive that could assist you in battle? That’s genius! She had to hand it to Alfor, dude knew how to build a kickass robot.

 

Yes, all the Lions have modes like this. Are they called modes? I think they should be called modes…

 

“This. Is. Amazing. Do you know how much earth technology could improve with tech like this? We already have holographic AI’s, but by programming an adjusting learning personality into it could be phenomenal! The Garrison could do so much with that kind of program. Forget Shiro! His apology can come later, right now I need to run some coding processors on you.”

 

Pidge grabbed Green’s paw, and was surprised to see it had become completely solid, “Woah, this is so cool I think I might explode.”

 

OH! OH NO, Pidgey please don’t explode! I like you as my Paladin! The others would be very upset if you exploded. Can humans even explode?

 

“For the record, no. Unless they have access to explosives, which I do not. Shiro confiscated them all, I think he’s taking his role as the dad too seriously. Anyway, come on! I wanna get this started right away!”

 

Oh boy.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Pidge was running DNA samples when Lance walked in.

 

“Hey Pidge, what’s crackalackin,” he said, walking over to her computer.

 

“Your bones if you touch any of my stuff,” Pidge replied, not looking up from where she was studying the sample results.

 

Lance quickly pulled his hand back from the examination table, “Duly noted. What ‘cha doin’ in here anyway? I thought you were playing space Monopoly with Hunk and Romelle.”

 

“Yeah, I was, something came up.”

 

“Oh ho~ what kind of something?” Lance said, leaning into her personal space with a smirk.

 

“Wipe that creepy look off your face, I’m just running some code examinations of the Green Lion using a DNA sample,” she replied, pushing his face away.

 

“Wait, you got one too?!” Lance exclaimed.

 

“What do you mean, too? Are you trying to tell me that you have also come into contact with your Lion’s spirit thing and didn’t tell me?!”

 

“Yeah! What’s better is that I got Red and Blue! Blue’s been following me around the castle all day, isn’t that right gorgeous” Lance said, looking down at his side and smiling.

 

“Uh… Lance? There’s nothing there-”

 

Suddenly, with a slight gleam of light, Blue appeared beside Lance, looking much more solid than Green was.

 

“Hello Pidge, Green, nice to see you.”

 

Pidge lept up from her chair and ran over to the Blue Lion, “How did you do that? You’re completely solid! Can I take a sample of your fur? How long does this state last? Can you hold it forever, or just for a small period of time? Can all the Lion’s do this? Can Green do this??”

 

Blue chuckled and Lance pushed Pidge back a little, “Woah Woah Woah, give the lady some space! Heh heh, get it? Space? Cause we’re in-”

 

“Yes Lance, I get it” Pidge groaned.

 

“Brilliant pun Lance!” Blue said, pride evident in her voice.

 

“Aww, thanks Blue.” Lance cooed at her, reaching down to give her a hug, which Blue happily melted into purring loudly.

 

“Holy shit, they’re like big magic cats…” Pidge gasped in awe.

 

Green came over to the group, solidifying as well “Hey Lance, how’s it going? I’m Green, nice to properly meet you.”

 

Lance looked over at Green in shock, “Omigosh you’re so beautiful!”

 

Green smiled at that, before looking back up at Pidge, “Hopefully, since both of us are here now, we can answer most of your questions?”

 

Pidge’s eyes gleamed at the possibility, “Really?? That would be great, this is such an amazing opportunity, wow, thank you so much.”

 

Blue grinned from where she was snuggled in Lance’s arms, “Of course, this would be a great chance to strengthen our bonds.”

 

Quickly, Pidge ran over to her desk and picked up two sample kits, “Then let’s not waste another tick, get your asses over here, it’s testing time!”

 

Lance groaned, “Aw man, I hate tests.”

 

Pidge looked at him with a deadpan expression, “Not you, idiot, the Lions.”

 

“Oh, psssh, I knew that.”

 

“Mhmm, maybe we should get you tested, your IQ doesn’t seem to be all that high.

 

Lance gasped dramatically, “‘Um! Excuse, I am very intelligent!”

 

“Sure Jan,” Green replied. Pidge looked over at her with a wide smile before wiping a fake tear from her eye.

 

“I’ve taught you well.”

 

Meanwhile, Lance was basking in the utter betrayal he’d just been dunked in, “Green… how could you…”

 

“What? We didn’t have a bonding moment? You didn’t cradle me in your arms, and I don’t remember it happening.” Green sassed.

 

“Hey! Stop making fun of me for that, I really don’t remember! I’ll get Keith to prove it, HEY KEITH, GET YOUR MULLET OVER HERE” Lance yelled into the hallway.

 

Unsurprisingly, Keith did not respond. Lance turned back to Pidge, “He’s probably hanging out with Black and Red, I’ll go get him.”

 

Pidge watched him walk out, the door closing behind him. Then she turned to the two Lion’s still in the room.

 

“Well girls, who wants to go first?”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Green went first, and Pidge placed a single fiber of her now solid fur into a DNA program she had created for identifying alien species and cataloging them according to power levels. Green’s results were pretty high up on the charts, high up as in way above any other species she had scanned before. She was almost pure quintessence, and Pidge wondered how all that power didn’t go to her head.

 

 

“Okay Green, your results are in,” Pidge said, printing out a single sheet of paper.

 

“Drumroll please…” she said while looking up at the two Lions. They stared back at her in confusion, Blue’s eyes squinting and Green’s head tilted ever so slightly.

 

Pidge sighed and patted the table next to her in a quick rhythm, “Your stats are….” She turned the paper to read it, “10/20 Damage, 15/20 Armor, and 17/20 Speed. However, those would be in your mechanical ships, your power levels in this form would be average in terms of attack, your protection and strength are above average and your speed level is higher average. Pretty well rounded, okay Blue, you're next!”

 

Quickly scurrying back over to her computer, Pidge filed away Green’s test results and opened away a new page for Blue. She took a small sample of fur, just like how she had done for Green, and placed it into the DNA scanner.

 

As soon as the results showed up on the screen, Pidge scanned them over briefly before printing it out. She took the page from the tray and sat on the table, swinging her legs slightly.

 

“Alright, so Blue, your results were also higher than average. You and Green are in the same area, with 13/20 Damage, 14/20 Armor, and 15/20 Speed. Or to put it simply, you are above average in power levels, above average in strength and protection, and above average in speed. Overall, your stats are pretty even.”

 

Blue puffed out her chest with pride, “Thank you, Paladin.”

 

Green would roll her eyes if she had pupils, “Oh please, those are nothing. My speed is so much higher than yours, and I bet my intelligence is too.”

 

Blue gaped at her sibling and Pidge ooohed under her breath. Blue shut her mouth with an audible click, her eyes narrowing dangerously before speaking.

 

“Watch your tone young lady, respect your elders”

 

Green’s fur puffed up in anger, “I AM ONLY 15 DECA-PHOEBES YOUNGER THAN YOU, YOU DISCOUNT PRINGLE.”

 

Pidge has never been more proud of her Lion. Even when her flying body nearly collided with her workstation.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Were the test results worth it?

 

Yes, undoubtedly. Pidge had gotten the information she wanted, Green and Blue had gotten some strange sibling bonding time. Everyone was happy.

 

Was the broken computer worth it?

 

Oh, fuck no.

 

Said computer was lying rather pathetically on the floor, wires were sticking out all over the place and dented metal parts were strewn everywhere. Green and Blue had retreated to the edges of the room by the door in order to escape the wrath of the small Paladin.

 

Pidge fell to her knees in agony. She hadn’t known this computer long, but its processor was unlike any other. It was a little heavy, chunky in most places, but she could overlook appearances. Especially when It could run any amount of programs without lagging or crashing and had a storage equivalent to larger than anything Pidge had ever modified on Earth. Altean technology was amazing, this being a prime example, and now here it lay, broken beyond repair.

 

Pidge was, understandably, furious. However, storing such a large amount of fury in her tiny body was much too tiring, so instead of snapping and infecting both Lion’s with bugs so strong their fleas would have fleas, she decided to go the scarily calm route. Letting them know she was above punishment, but could still break at any moment with the smallest amount of provoking.

 

It worked like a charm on Matt, and he was basically a civilized animal with some culture and an intelligent mind. So these Lion’s wouldn’t be much different.

 

Ah, psychology. It was a bitch, but it was Pidge’s bitch.

 

Slowly standing up, Pidge began to work her plan into action. She carefully scored her expression into an eerily nonchalant one, slowly turning and not sparing the two Lions a second glance as she walked out of the room. All she had to do was ignore them, they’d be sorry, she’d make sure of it. In the meantime, she may as well go looking for Shiro. Unfortunately, she had an apology to issue.

 

Her footsteps echoed in the empty hallways, the closer she got to the rooms, the closer she would hear the sounds of swords clashing against each other and Lance’s pining reaching her from Shiro’s bedroom door. A small thud came from somewhere on the training deck, Pidge ran down the hall to see who got their ass whooped but bumped into someone before she could turn the corner.

 

“Ack, hey watch it- oh.”

 

Krolia raised an unamused eyebrow at Pidge from where she had landed on the floor. The collision had left her unaffected.

 

“Hello Pidge, watch where you’re going next time,” she said, her voice in a hushed whisper.

 

Pidge scrambled into a standing position, and readjusted her glasses, “Yeah, okay. What are you doing outside the training deck anyway? And why are you whispering?”

 

Krolia pressed a clawed finger to her mouth and pointed in the direction of the slightly open door. Through the crack, Pidge could see Lance and Keith together, most likely arguing. Lance was lying down on the floor and probably bitching about something while Keith was gazing down at him with what looked like exasperated fondness.

 

“They were training together,” Krolia whispered, “Then Lance got knocked down. He’s been lying on the ground complaining for the last five dobashes.”

 

Pidge noticed Lance’s sword had been thrown across the deck, which was strange, considering the boy didn’t look nearly as tired as Keith was.

 

“How long have they been here?” Pidge asked, keeping her voice low.

 

“Well, Lance just walked in around thirty dobashes ago, but I think Keith might have been here all day using my new training simulators. He was very excited to try them out. I don’t understand why they’ve stopped, those simulators are perfect for strengthening teamwork.”

 

That had explained a lot, Pidge knew Lance would never willingly walk into the training deck, he’d probably gone in there to bother Keith. Like he did with Pidge whenever she had been working for a while. She smiled, remembering how Lance would throw himself across the desk and whine until Pidge would reluctantly take a break long enough to satisfy him.

 

“I know what he’s doing,” Pidge said, smiling softly. Krolia gave her an inquisitive look and she explained, “He does this to me all the time. He’s just trying to get Keith to take a break, Lance wants to make sure he’s not overworking himself.”

 

Sure enough, Keith grabbed Lance's hand and hoisted him up off the floor, the two boys walked over to where Krolia and Pidge were standing, Lance talking about all the things Keith had missed on his crazy space journey while Keith practically hung on every word.

 

“He’s so far gone,” Pidge muttered.

 

“Which one?” Krolia asked exasperatedly.

 

The two looked at each other and shook their heads fondly, both having to suffer through the two boys excessive pining, they walked away quickly before said boys found out they were snooping.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

After stopping by Dad’s - Shiro’s - Room to apologize (he was asleep anyway so she left a note to avoid waking him up) Pidge remembered the space Monopoly game.

 

She raced down the hall over to the kitchen, where she found Hunk and Romelle waiting for her to return.

 

“Oh my god you angel’s, I didn’t think you’d actually wait for me!” she exclaimed.

 

They swiveled around to look at her, “Well yeah,” Hunk spoke, “You were gone for a while though, what were you doing?”

 

“I was running some DNA tests on Green and Blue,” she said, noticing the Yellow Lion asleep on the floor. “When were you going to tell me about Yellow by the way?” she said crossing her arms.

 

“I just found out about him today! You know I would have told you first!” Hunk defended.

 

Pidge glared at him still, just to watch him squirm. Then she eventually relented, she wasn’t a monster okay? She believed him anyway, Hunk was always coming to her to tell her about a new species he’d encountered so they could run experiments together. They’d started a data log for the new critters, adding the info to the outdated Altean files Coran had lying around in his console.

 

“Yeah, you’re right,” she said, hopping up on a bar stool. “I’m here now though, let’s get started.”

 

Hunk picked up an orange pastry from a plate resting next to him and offered it to Pidge. “Want one? They’re Paifala, Romelle helped me make them.”

 

Pidge took it eagerly and bit down into the flaky crust, “Mmm! Tastes like pineapple!” she exclaimed, quickly chewing so she could take another bite.

 

“Thanks, I used those berries we’d gotten from our last supply run. They taste a lot like pineapples but I find them to be a little sweeter.”

 

Romelle picked up the dice and shook them, letting them roll out of her palm and clatter onto the game board. “Six!” she cried out and moved her crown-shaped piece six spaced ahead. The three teens squinted down at the space she landed on.

 

“What does it say?” Hunk asked aloud.

 

“Not sure, Romelle?”

 

“No idea, this game is written in old Altean, that language is practically ancient. New Altean is a lot more similar to Galran, considering Prince Lotor was the head of government for a while.” Romelle answered. “Pidge, don’t you have any Altean translators?”

 

“Oh right!” Pidge exclaimed, hopping off her stool to snag a small tablet from the common room before racing back and translating the sentence.

 

“Okay, it’s got three possible translations. The first one is an animal, since there aren’t any animals in regular Monopoly I don’t think that’s it…”

 

“It could be though, I mean think about it, alien Monopoly is probably crammed full of weird stuff. Remember Monsters and Mana? It could be similar to that in a way.” Hunk added.

 

“True, but wasn’t Monsters and Mana very similar to one of your Earth games as well?” Romelle pointed out. “What was it, Prisons and Princes?”

 

“Dungeons and Dragons,” Pidge corrected. “And I guess so, the second translations says its some sort of Altean Marketplace or Store. Seeing as most Monopoly spaces are property’s, I guess that might be the most accurate.”

 

“What about the last one?” Hunk asked.

 

Pidge squinted at her tablet, “It just says ‘Squirrel’, no background information. Must be a glitch, I’ll fix it later. Anyway, the Marketplace is selling for 200 Groggeries.”

 

“What the quizak is a Grogery?” Romelle asked.

 

“It’s money, Coran had a bunch of them lying around, they were used as old Altean currency before the Galra took over and changed it to Gac. They’re essentially worthless nowadays, but we still have a lot of them around here.” Hunk answered.

 

“And it’s Groggeries, I’m not sure what the singular would be,” Pidge added.

 

“Old Altean culture is strange, I’d love to learn more about it!”

 

Hunk stole some of Pidge’s chips, “Well if you want to ask somebody -ow Pidge, no biting- you should ask Coran or Allura. I’m sure they’d love to tell you.”

 

Romelle’s eyes lit up, “I’d love to! My family was always telling me tales of old Altean history but I never got to hear anything from the source! I’ve always thought books could tell me more, but most of them have been influenced by Galra, and Lotor made sure to keep all contact with old Altea severed. Getting to experience a lost part of my culture would be a truly unforgettable experience.”

 

“Wow, I’d never thought to recognize how much the Alteans have been through, I mean, being controlled by the Galra even when you were supposed to be free must have been horrible. It goes to show how much influence this war has had on multiple alien races.” Pidge said, her brown eyes widening behind her glasses.

 

Hunk wiped away a tear, “Well if it means anything, we’re always willing to help you find any information you might be looking for, Pidge and I are your resident tech geniuses and we’d love to lend a hand.” he sniffled, “Man, getting in touch with family history never fails to activate the waterworks.”

 

Pidge patter Hunk on the shoulder and stole one of his Pastry’s, “Aw you big softy, we’ll do everything we can to help you Romelle.”

 

Romelle gave the two a watery smile. “Thank you so much, you have no idea what this means to me.”

 

Hunk opened his arms and gestured towards himself, “Alright you two, bring it in!”

 

Pidge backed away a little, “Hunk I don’t really think a hug is necessary-”

 

Hunk grabbed her and squeezed the girls in one of his famous Hunk Hugs, “Nuh-uh Pidge, we’re all in this together now, research bro’s together forever.”

 

Romelle buried her face in Hunks shoulder and Pidge patted his arm comfortingly. The three stayed there for a while, comforting each other with the underhand promise of complete devotion to this new project. Soon enough, Hunks arms grew tired from supporting their weight and the counter was starting to dig uncomfortably in Pidge’s ribs. Hunk let them go with a smile and wiped his eyes on his sleeve.


“I think we’re going to make the greatest team ever.”


Pidge smiled earnestly, “Yeah, what do you think Romelle?”


Romelle gave the two a bright grin that could rival the sun, “I think I might just cry again from happiness.”


Hunk’s eyes watered and Pidge shook her head fondly, “Alright you sap, let’s get on with the game huh?”


The three lapsed back into the unforgiving world of Empires, while in the back of her mind, Pidge thought about her family.


Romelle reminds me so much of myself, eager to discover the secrets behind myself and my family.


She looked up to see Romelle cheering when she landed on the blessed “Free Parking” space.


I would do anything to help her.

Chapter Text

Shiro was a bit confused.

 

Scratch that, make it, a lot confused.

 

Very confused.

 

He looked around.

 

Where am I?

 

This place reminded him of the astral plane, but different. There was a powerful energy coursing around him, it felt as though something, some unknown presence, was attempting to squeeze the life out of him, but instead made him feel like he was receiving an awkward hug. His surroundings looked different too, more cheery and carefree. It was blue, a lighter blue than the sky but still reminded him of cliche pictures of the beaches around California that were set as a default desktop background.

 

White wispy clouds surrounded him, but no matter how far he walked towards them, they still seemed out of reach. The turquoise sky melted into a baby blue the further he walked, but still, no objects appeared in the distance.

 

Must be some weird lucid dream, maybe I can go somewhere else.

 

Now, Shiro hadn’t heard much about lucid dreaming, he’d only seen some studies about it. He’d always wished to do it himself, but he never got around to training his mind. In fact, he hardly slept at all during the Garrison, his studies and markings keeping him up until Adam found him asleep drooling on his desk.

 

Shiro knew a couple things about lucid dreaming, he knew that if too much was controlled by you, then the dream would break… somehow. He also knew that he needed to enter a state of sleep paralysis before being able to lucid dream.

 

So… minimal control. I can do that, I’ll just get a door and lead myself back into the castleship.

 

Shiro concentrated as hard as he could, and eventually, a wooden door showed up in front of him. He grasped the rusted gold handle and turned it with ease, he was surprised to feel the cool metal touch his palm, he opened the door slowly, hearing it gently give off a creak with any small change in pressure.

 

He stepped through and immediately was hit with a cold blast of air conditioning. The strongest he’d ever felt, which means he could only be at one place.

 

The Garrison.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

His footsteps echoed in the suspiciously empty hallway. It was usually filled with cadets, mingling and rushing off to class or simply hanging around for the hell of it. Occasionally a senior officer would enter the hallways and order the students to disperse in the designated lounges or in their rooms. Shiro wasn’t fond of doing this, he knew the conditions of the lounges weren’t the most comfortable or ideal and the rooms were usually off limits around school hours. He had never had a problem with the cadets hanging around the hallways, in fact, he’d gotten quite used to it, which made this environment all the more unnerving.

 

Maybe there’s a reason for this? Maybe everyone is just in class.

 

The thought still seemed unlikely, no two schedules were the same, and everyone got a break period around four different time sets. Still, any time he’d tried to look at a clock, the numbers were all warped and blurry.

 

Typical.

 

So, with no students to converse with and no officers to report to, Shiro head to the one place he was most familiar with, his old dorm room. He started down the hallway, following the familiar route and noticing the little things he always used to, the scratch on the wall, the broken light that would only stay fixed for two weeks, the water fountain that always sprayed you in the face.

 

Oh, and the observation deck.

 

Sure enough, the narrow walls were replaced by the glass that gave way to the multitudes of ships and equipment down on the main testing grounds of the Garrison. Except for this time, all Shiro could see was the vastness of space. The dark midnight and star-speckled sky glaring him right in the face as if to remind him ‘’you aren’t really home, this is just an illusion.’’

 

He backed away slowly from the open hallway and hurried down to the dorms. He quickly typed his code in on the keypad, muscle memory taking over after years of learning and eventually teaching here, the door opened with a woosh, reminiscent of the doors on the castle ship used to behave.

 

They still behave that way Shiro, this is all still a dream, He reminded himself.

 

Shiro took two cautious steps inside as if the sturdy looking walls would blow away at any sudden movement and drag him out into the vacuum of stars and planets. He was pleasantly surprised to find everything sticking in the same place, reminding him that he still had partial control over this dream.

 

Tentatively, he called out to the only human being who would be in there,

 

“Adam?”

 

Silence, Try again maybe?

 

“Adaaaam? You here? Adam?”

 

Still nothing.

 

Damnit, I thought for sure he’d-

 

Shiro was pulled from his thought by the sudden sound of the door opening behind him, he whirled around in time to see…

 

“Takashi?”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Green was padding softly down the hallway in search of Pidge, she knew the young girl tended to stay up late working on her projects, but she knew how tired that would make her in the morning. She only wanted the best for her Paladin, and that meant taking care of her basic needs.

 

If only It was easier to find her, this place is huge!

 

Turning a corner, Green found herself back at the training deck.

 

“Auggggghhhh” She groaned out loud, “This is hopeless! We need signs around here, I haven’t had to navigate these halls in over 10,000 deca-phoebes!”

 

Suddenly, her systems shut down, she felt her spirit being pulled back into her body, through walls and floors as though she was a ghost. Relentlessly, she was shoved back into her own pilot seat and was bombarded with coded messages.

 

                                                         

 

What in the quiznak?

 

Green forced her systems to work hard to process the message, but it was coming in faster than she could decode it, bits and pieces came together, but by the time the message had been fully received, Green’s energy had been completely diminished. She shook herself out and displayed the message on the dashboard.

 

I need to tell everyone, immediately.

 

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

ミ✲Guys, everyone get here now I have urgent news to tell you all.✲

 

ミ✧What's up, Green?✧

 

ミ✫Everything okay?✫

 

ミ✭What’s going on here?✭

 

✫Green called us for a meeting✫

 

✧She said it was urgent✧

 

✭Urgent?! Is everyone okay?✭

 

✫Is Pidge okay?✫

 

✧Is HUNK OKAY? What about-✧

 

ミ★Everybody, calm down. Green, show us the message.★

 

✲Take a look!✲

 

❉✲*Green Sent A Message*✲❉

 

✫…✫

 

✧Uh…

 

✭What the quiznak does that say.✭

 

✫Red!✫

 

✭What?! It’s a valid question!!✭

 

✲I’m not entirely sure, Red. I’m going to get Pidge to translate the binary, I suggest the rest of you come along with me too.✲

 

✫Good idea. Black? What do you think?✫

 

★I think that’s the best option we have here, considering the matter is urgent and The Green Paladin can decode the message quickly and efficiently, she is the best candidate. Everyone is responsible for bringing their own Paladin, we don’t have any time to waste.★

 

✫I’ve got Allura!✫

 

✭I’ll get Lance and Keith.✭ミ

 

✧I can get Hunk and Romelle!✧ミ

 

✲I’ll go find Pidge and Coran!✲

 

★And I will take care of Shiro and Krolia.★ミ

 

✲Let’s Go Lions!✲ミ

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

“Takashi?”

 

Shiro turned around and came face to face with…

 

“Adam!”

 

He ran forward and gave his Fiancé a big hug.

 

Adam staggered back “Oof, Takashi what’s going on? What happened to you?!”

 

Adam pulled back and lifted his hand to run across Shiro’s face, gently touching the scar before lightly brushing his hair.

 

“Takashi your face, your hair,” he took a couple steps back, “Holy cow, your arm!”

 

Shiro rubbed the back of his neck with his human hand, “Uhh… surprise?”

 

Adam launched forward and pulled him into a kiss, gently reaching his hands up to cradle his face while Shiro relaxed into it and placed his hand on the small of Adam’s back. They both pulled back, equally as reluctant and desperate for air.

 

“I missed you so much, Adam…” Shiro said, breathing heavily.

 

“It’s been too long,” Adam whispered, equally as breathless.

 

They came together again for another chaste kiss, finally breaking off when Adam needed to speak.

 

“Where have you been?”

 

Shiro chuckled, “Do you want the long version or the short?”

 

Adam took his hand and lead them to the couch, sitting down but still not releasing his hand.

 

“I want you to tell me everything, start from Kerberos, I know it wasn’t just a pilot error.”

 

Shiro smiled softly and nodded, “Alright, back to Kerberos then…”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

“Easy, son. This ice is delicate.”

 

“Amazing. Isn’t this exciting, Shiro?”

 

Shiro felt the strangest sense of deja vu, he looked around and focused back onto the two suit-clad men leaning near the ice extraction machine.

 

He chuckled, “You guys get a little more excited about ice samples than I do.”

 

Sam smiled, still looking at the samples, “This is history in the making. Not only have we traveled farther than any human ever has, but this ice could hold microscopic clues about the existence of life outside Earth.”

 

Matt looked back at Sam, “Think of it Dad. We could use those clues to become the first people to meet aliens.”

 

“My life’s work would be complete,” Sam considered.

 

Suddenly, the ground began to shake. Through the thick suit, Shiro could feel goosebumps pricking up on his arms.

 

Sam looked up, “What is that? Seismic activity?”

 

Shiro shivered, he had a bad feeling for some unknown reason, they needed to get out of there, now.

 

“We should get back to the ship.”

 

Matt stood up holding the ice sample in his hand, the rumbling increased as a huge shadow loomed over them. Shiro’s eyes widened, a huge ship, bigger than their own loomed over them. It’s sickening purple lights glowed menacingly and glared down at them like a predator does its prey.

 

Sam cried out, “What? What is that?”

 

A beam charged on the head of the ship, gleaming down at them, “It can’t be…” Sam whispered.

 

Shiro felt his eyes grow in fear, he quickly snapped out of it and grabbed the other two men, “Run! Come on, run!”

 

Matt dropped the sample as the three ran as fast as their legs could take them, a bright purple stream of light charged down behind them, tearing up their forgotten equipment and the moon’s surface around it. The fuschia beam pulled all the rubble towards it, picking up the explorers and sending them helpless towards the ship. Shiro felt himself scream until his lungs were gasping for air and he started seeing black spots enter his vision.

 

He blacked out.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Slowly he felt himself regain consciousness, a muffled voice entered his head,  “Emperor Zarkon,”

 

He opened his eyes slowly, the room still spinning and his arms and head aching. The voice continued, “We were scouting System X-9-Y as ordered when we found these primitive scientists.”

 

His thoughts caught up with him, Kerberos, Sam, Matt, Ship, Tractor Beam…

 

He raised his head, fully awake, ignoring the pounding inside his head, the bright purple lights did nothing to soothe his headache, he saw a dark figure displayed on a fuzzy purple screen, space nearly fully surrounding the glass. A lone figure stood on a raised platform, still blurry as his vision fought to clear itself.

 

“I don’t think they know anything useful.” the figure spoke again, voice low and unsettling.

 

The dark display spoke, voice somehow lower and more unsettling than the blurred out figure, “Take them back to the main fleet for interrogation. The druids will find out what they know.”

 

Shiro turned to look beside him, there kneeled the Holt’s, their visors had gone dark, to block out the bright lights around them. Guns were held against their heads, at least, they looked like guns.

 

They must still be unconscious.

 

Shiro turned to look back at the front of the room, his vision clearing and allowing him to see the tall figure dressed in bulky armor standing in front of the screen. Shiro couldn’t take it anymore, he found his voice.

 

“Please, we come from a peaceful planet!” he called out, voice still raspy from screaming earlier, “We mean you no harm!”

 

The figure turned around at the sound of his voice, Shiro’s eyes widened at what he saw. The vaguely humanoid figure had a distorted purple face that looked straight out of a horror movie. His bright yellow eyes had small purple slits for pupils and dark purple spikes ran down his bald skull. Pointy ears protrude out from the side of his head, he narrowed his eyes at Shiro.

 

“We’re unarmed!” Shiro started again, but he was cut off when a sharp object hit him from behind. He groaned in pain and hunched over as his vision went black once more.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

He blinked his heavy eyelids open and found himself off the deck. Instead, he was lying tied up on a cart, being transported down a dark hallway with bright green lights gleaming down from jagged edges in the ceiling. Ahead of him was a tall metal figure, armed with the same gun he recognized before, holding one of his crew members hostage as they continued down the corridor.

 

He turned his head towards the side and saw cells. Multiple holding cells with tiny slits high up on their metal doors. Pairs of eyes in all shapes and multitudes stared through them, a deep muffled male voice sounded out from one of them, “Look, they brought in another one.”

 

“Who is it?” another asked.

 

“Over there. It’s another one.” the deep voice answered.

 

“Huh?” Shiro felt himself say, as he tilted his aching neck to look towards his right.

 

Open windows gave way to walls and walls of identically sized cells, so many they made his head dizzy.

 

His eyes widened and he gasped, realizing that soon he’d be in one of those cells.






That was Seven Years Ago.






 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

His next memory started in the Arena.

 

He could barely make out the monster's face, it didn’t matter what it looked like, all that mattered was beating it.

 

It was hard to keep his humanity during these days. At times Shiro went an entire day without talking, only training hard. There were no friends, only competitors, threats, and enemies.

 

If it wasn’t for Matt, he would have lost all hope, and eventually become one of them.

 

The Monsters.

 

Hulking masses of purple metal limbs, sharp white teeth and yellow slits for eyes. It was hard to think these things had ever been like him, once human, or vaguely human. Not just another target, another pawn in Haggar’s grand scheme. Whatever that was supposed to be.

 

Shiro never liked looking back on them. Ever since he’d been in the healing pods he remembered everything from his time in Galra captivity. He had unlimited access to all his memories, his entire past over the course of those horrid days when he’d barely eat anything, and constantly strived just to live, just to keep his title as The Champion.

 

He never wanted to look back, but now he had to.

 

For Adam, he deserved to know.

 

He remembered using a weapon pointed at Matt to slash open his leg. Claiming his lust for blood, so he’d be put in before Matt, so Matt could survive a little longer.

 

All the monsters were the same, no matter what modifications, species, sob story, battle strategy, they were all the same.  All much bigger and faster, all with metal extensions too big for their bodies. Boulder-sized eyes, long slender metal fingers, rotating gears on the outsides of their arms.

 

All the same, but he needed different methods to take them down.

 

Most involved impaling them with their own weapons, tangling their huge limbs or making them trip over their own bulky feet. Often times Shiro had to fight with his fists, no weapons offered at his expense until he gained a title for himself. Then they gave him swords, long crowbar type weapons, whips, axes, guns, anything you could imagine.

 

Shiro fought with them all, and he won every time.

 

Until he didn’t.

 

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Black ran as fast as his limbs could take him, and it wasn’t nearly fast enough. They had just received an S.O.S. from somewhere far out in the Galaxy, and it was urgent.

 

Red ran alongside him, sliding to a stop in front of his Paladins door, Black did not stop. He called upon enough quintessence to solidify completely, hurrying along the corridor towards the guest rooms.

 

I need to get to Krolia, then I’ll go after Takashi.

 

Black opened his wings and shifted his weight onto them, making him lighter on his feet. His paws barely touched the ground as he picked up speed, turning the corners lightning fast.

 

He stopped short at one of the guest rooms, he could barely make out the heat signature inside the room, the doors opened with a woosh and Black prepared in advance for what he knew was coming next.

 

Shing! Thunnnnnnng.

 

A Marmora Blade, fully transformed, nearly missed his head by a microfibre. Krolia stood in full defense mode and only gave Black a second before charging towards him.

 

Black used his wings to fly up and out of Krolia’s reach, she attempted climbed the walls using her sharp nails and flung herself towards him, Blade in hand with full intentions to skin him where he stood, er, hovered.

 

She missed.

 

And promptly face planted on the floor.

 

Which would have been hilarious, if not the urgency of the situation.

 

Black landed next to her and placed his forehead against hers, it was much easier this way to effectively transport thoughts and feelings without having to waste his energy speaking. When he opened his eyes again, Krolia met his stare. She nodded, determination settling into her features before climbing on his back as he took off down the hallway towards Shiro’s room.

 

Hold on Shiro, we’re coming.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Blood.

 

There was blood everywhere.

 

Shiro barely remembered it, but when he woke up, his left arm was replaced with a metal one, engineered by the Druids.

 

He had become one of them.






That was Six Years Ago

The Year of his escape from Galra Captivity.

When Ulaz came to lead him towards the Escape Pods.

When he crash landed on Earth.

 

When he saw Keith again.

 

When he met Lance.

 

Hunk.

 

Pidge.

 

Allura.

 

Coran.

 

So Many Others...

 

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to see you again Adam.”

 

Adam smiled softly and ran his hand over Shiro’s knee in a comforting gesture.

 

“That’s okay Takashi, I know you would have if you were given the choice.”

 

Shiro looked up at him, “I don’t know if they would have let me,” he answered honestly.

 

Adam chuckled, “I would have liked to see them try and stop me.”

 

Shiro smiled and looked down at his lap, “Thank you.”

 

Adam tilted his head to the side, still smiling, “For what?”

 

Shiro kept his eyes downcast, “For being here. Ever since it all happened, I never really allowed myself to think about it again. So many horrible things happened in that Arena, I was scared to believe it would be a part of me forever, that it made me a monster. Now I realize, my time in the arena doesn’t define me. I choose to be my own person, It wasn't my fault I had to fight, it’s nobody’s but the Galra.”

 

He looked up.

 

“I’m glad I got to see you again Adam.”

 

Adam’s smile grew softer, his eyes overflowing with emotion, “Me too Shiro, me too.”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

He woke up to Alarms Blaring.

 

He snapped awake and threw off his covers. He opened the door and spotted a figure running towards him. It looked a bit like-

 

“SHIRO!” Krolia yelled.

 

She was riding on the back of a magnificent Black Lion, its red and blue colored wings were spread out and it’s shining yellow eyes narrowed once they spotted Shiro.

 

It skids to a halt in front of him.

 

“I’ll explain on the way!” Krolia continued, extending a hand towards him, “Hop on!”

 

Shiro grabbed her hand and was swiftly pulled onto the beast.

 

“Hang on! We’re headed to the deck!”

 

Shiro grabbed the sides of Krolia’s waist and hung on for dear life as the creature took off into the hallway.

 

Oh boy, what a way to wake up

 

The Lion’s wings spread out more and more until Shiro felt the hard thuds and jolts of its paws hitting the ground no longer.

 

Krolia turned around and nudged him, “BRACE YOURSELF, WE’RE COMING UP ON A TURN!” she yelled.

 

Shiro winced a little at her volume but leaned in time with the turn, the lion’s paws hit the wall as it launched itself into a turn, causing Shiro’s fingers to dig into Krolia’s stomach where he was holding on. Shiro didn’t normally mind high speeds but this was a little… much.

 

Eventually, the Lion’s wings spread out again, jerking them at a slower pace as they traveled towards the floor again. Soon enough Shiro could once again feel the thundering of paws hitting the floor in a full sprint.

 

By the time the Lion came to a full stop, they were at the Bridge. The three burst into the room to find most of the other Paladins there, along with three other nearly identical colored Lions. Shiro turned his head to Allura, to find her looking up at him.

 

“Oh good! You’re already here,” Allura said, walking away from the com’s, “I was just about to make an announcement.”

 

Hunk yawned from where he was leaning against a giant Yellow Lion, “I don’t see why we need to be here now if we aren’t doing any important training, I was having a really good dream…” Romelle mumbled in agreement from the other side, her face buried in the creature's fur.

 

Lance patted him sympathetically on the back, “Same, buddy, but Pidge told me it was actually super important, before, y’know, she ran off to shut herself inside her room again.”

 

“That’s correct Lance!” Coran said, making himself known and twisting his mustache, “This is no ordinary training call, The Green Lion has informed us via Pidge that we’ve received a distress signal from somewhere located in the White Hole!”

 

“Ugh, you mean the one Lotor dragged us to?” Lance asked, skeptically.

 

“Right again number four!” Coran responded, not seeming to pick up on the tension that settled in the air at the mention of Lotor.

 

“Wait, hold on a second, why am I number four now?! I thought I was number three!” Lance whined.

 

“Yeah you were, then Keith came back after like two years or Galra bonding and grew, like, two inches,” Hunk mentioned, eyes closed as he snuggled into Yellow’s fur.

 

“What! No way is Mullet taller than me, get over here Keith we’re measuring each other right now!”

 

Keith’s eyes widened, but he awkwardly made his way over to Lance, standing back to back with him. Lance stood with his back straight up, allowing Keith to stiffly slide in behind him, only slightly slouched until Lance elbowed him.

 

Shiro finally decided to break up this little… whatever it was, but before he could intervene, Coran was standing between the two with what looked like a translucent roll of measuring tape.

 

“Well, it appears as though you two are roughly the same height…” Coran started.

 

“Buuuuuuut…..” Lance prompted.

 

“However, Keith's hair gives him a little height advantage. So, technically Lance is taller,” Coran finished, letting go of the measuring tape with a snap.

 

“Hah! Take that Keith-”

 

“I left for 5 dobashes and you idiots are having a measuring party?” Pidge spoke from the door.

 

Everyone turned to face the Green Paladin. Beside her was the Green Lion, in a similar state to the rest of the Lions. Pidge was holding a small tablet in her arms and she ran towards her station.

 

“Okay everyone, gather round,” Pidge announced. “The reason you’re all here is that Green has received a distress signal from the White Hole, as you’ve no doubt been told already. Green has already translated the frequency to binary so it will take some brief decoding to translate the entire message.”

 

“Won’t that normally take you like, five ticks?” Lance asked.

 

“Well yes, but somebody…” she said, sending a loaded glare at Blue and Green, “broke my laptop, so until I fix it, I need to use this tablet and the console. It won’t take me too long, just a little more time than usual.”

 

As Pidge’s hands clacked away at her keyboard, the rest of the team started brainstorming around the console.

 

“Who do you think sent it?” Hunk asked.

 

“Maybe one of those statue creatures on Oriande?” Allura mentioned.

 

“Why would they send a distress signal, and more importantly how?” Keith said.

 

“Perhaps the Galra empire has used Haggar to find the White Hole and cause whatever’s in there to be in distress,” Krolia spoke up.

 

“But how are they able to reach us in the first place? More importantly, why the Green Lion? Allura was chosen by the White Lion, shouldn’t she have received the message? Or even Blue?” Hunk countered.

 

“I got it!” Pidge spoke up, breaking the tense worry that had settled into the conversation. Pidge brought the message up into full screen, allowing everyone to have a clear view of it.

 

Allura read the message aloud,

 

“Hello, Green,

 

I am messaging you from a series of connections streaming from the astral plane. I am sorry to say, but I am in need of Voltron's help.

 

You have reached out to me quite recently, as I recall two challengers journeyed to the white hole to attempt my trials. One of which succeeded, none other than Princess Allura.

 

Since then, another challenger has attempted my trials, Honerva, or Haggar as she is more commonly referred to as. She hadn't succeeded but instead attempted to capture my essence using her dark quintessence.

 

I am currently stationed inside the fabric of the white hole and requesting an extraction. Please, make haste, If Honerva finds me, she will extract my quintessence and use it for her own dark magic experiments, which could mean catastrophe for Voltron, and possibly the known universe.

 

I hope you reach this in time, I do not know how long it will be until her druids lock onto this signal.

 

Sincerely,

 

The White Lion.”

 

The message left everyone in shock, then finally, Lance turned to Keith.

 

“Well, team leader? What do we do,” he asked.

 

Keith looked surprised for a moment before turning to Coran.

 

“Set a course for Oriande.”

 

He then turned to the rest of the Paladins, “Everyone, suit up. We’ve got a Lion to rescue.”

Chapter Text

The Paladins all rushed to the hangars to get suited up.

 

Allura nearly felt herself flinch at the small hand that grasped her wrist in a firm grip.

 

“Allura wait!”

 

She whirled around to find Pidge looking up at her.

 

“I need you to ride with me and green on our way to Oriande. If you can’t open a wormhole, I need to be able to track the connection you made with the White Lion so we can find our way there.”

 

Green stopped short of the hangar doors, Hold on, If Allura is going to be with us, then who’s going to pilot the Blue Lion?”

 

I will ,” came a voice from behind them. They turned around to see the Blue Lion standing there and looking determined. She continued, “I can use the bond Allura and I have to pilot myself as long as we wormhole over there. After all, this isn’t the first time we’ve moved on our own.”

 

Green nodded from beside Pidge, She’s right. Allura, you should activate the wormhole. Blue can follow along with us.

 

Pidge nodded her head thoughtfully, “That should work, good luck Princess!”

 

Green, Blue, and Pidge rushed into their respective hangars as Allura headed back to the bridge.

 

This is a serious situation. If Haggar manages to gain the White Lion’s quintessence, who knows what she’ll be capable of…

 

When Allura reached the bridge, Coran looked up in surprise.

 

“Allura! What are you doing here?”

 

Allura walked over to the slightly elevated platform and placed her hands on the two scepters that allowed her to summon a wormhole. “Blue sent me back here, she’s going to pilot herself, We don’t have much time, it would be much easier to wormhole there instead of simply traveling by Lion. We need to save all the energy we have.”

 

Coran nodded and headed back to his station, “Preparing the Castle for wormhole Princess!”

 

Allura nodded and closed her eyes. She felt a buzz of power rush to her fingertips, a tingling sensation she was very familiar with. She concentrated her power and pictured Oriande, bitter memories swarmed her as the first image she saw was that of Lotor. She shook her head and pictures the white hole, the temple they-- she had laid her eyes upon, the trials she faced, and the final trial against the White Lion themself.

 

When she opened her eyes, the beginnings of a wormhole grew wider until it was full sized. She saw the lions fly into it, the Castle following shortly behind them.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

When the swirling tornado of white and blue clouds came into view, Allura immediately moved the castle forward, seeing the brief hesitation the other Paladins held. She spoke through the coms, “No need to worry Paladins, the White Lion is expecting us, everyone head straight for the white hole!”

 

As soon as her message came through the Lions activated their engines and flew towards the center of the White Hole. Soon, the image of the White Lion appeared, it regarded them with impassive eyes and opened its mouth to allow them safe passage to Oriande.

 

Then, suddenly the castle jerked to the side, almost hitting the Lions. The image of the White Lion disappeared and the entryway closed. Exclamations of confusion came from the coms.

 

“What the heck just happened!”

 

“Allura! Are you guys ok? I saw the castle get hit!”

 

“Why is the White Lion gone?!”

 

“You okay there Blue?”

 

Allura groaned and righted herself, Shiro spoke from beside her, “Everything's fine Paladins, Pidge, see if you can draw a connection to the White Lion through the message sent to Green. In the meantime, everyone comes back to the castle, we need to re-evaluate our approach.”

 

Another hit to the castle, this time on the right.

 

“And hurry! Coran, activate the shields!”

 

“Already on it Shiro,” Coran responded. Seconds later the translucent hexagon pattern displayed overtop of the White Hole, the hangar opened and the Lions came inside. Allura steered the ship out of the White Hole, managing to avoid any other blows to the sides of the ship.

 

Once they were a safe distance away, the Paladins and Lions came through the bridge doors.

 

“What happened out there?” Keith asked.

 

Allura turned to them, “I’m not sure. I suspect it could be defense systems that the White Lion set up to fend off the druids, but it could have just been turbulence.”

 

“I don’t know, we never experienced that much turbulence heading into Oriande the first time…” Hunk started.

 

“And White probably would have mentioned any defense mechanisms they imputed, and besides, why would they target us anyway?” Pidge finished.


“I don’t think those were defense mechanisms,” Krolia spoke up from one of the consoles, “In their message, the White Lion mentioned that Haggar had sent Druids to scout the area. The blast that hit us could have been their lightning attacks.”

 

“That would explain why we didn’t see anything, considering the druids can teleport.” Shiro nodded.

 

Lance crossed his arms, “Those sneaky assholes…”

 

“Of course,” Krolia continued, “We can’t be sure it was them. We can keep the shields up on our second approach, but they’ve already taken substantial damage.”

 

“Right, Keith, what should we do?” Shiro asked, turning to the boy in question. Keith blinked a couple times in surprise before turning to address Pidge.

 

“Pidge, find out if there are any accessible external security cameras. If not, then get to work installing them. How long do you think that would take you?”

 

Pidge walked over to her station and scanned the castle while speaking, “If they are pre-existing, no time at all. If not, then I might need some extra hands helping to assemble them. I’ve already got the basic formula for security cameras down, I would just need to install some extra adjustments for hypersensitive motion detection so we can catch these creeps in the act.”

 

“Great, Hunk and Romelle can help you with that. Coran, Shiro and Krolia, I want you to work on repairing the shield. Allura, try and re-access your connection with the White Lion, see if you can make a plan when we try our entry again. Lance, come with me, we’re going to assess the damage done to the castle.” Keith said, before turning to Lance.

 

“Roger that team leader, let’s go!” Lance said, running out the doors with Keith following close behind.

 

The room was silent before Pidge’s voice popped up, “Who wants to bet they aren’t actually going to do repairs.”

 

Everyone's hands went up.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Allura sat in the observatory, eyes closed and mind focused. She reached out in her mind to grasp the small strings that represented her bond with White. Compared to Blue, whose strings were multitudinous, bright, and completely solid, White’s strings were few, and glowed softly, only solidifying when she touched them. She grasped a couple of them and followed them into the depths of her mind. Walking past memories, ideas, weaknesses, and finally reached a glowing crack.

 

It reminded her of Blue’s, the way it expanded. But Blue’s was a wide-open cavern, welcoming all who dared enter with open arms, the soft glow often a sight for sore eyes. Entering granted you with an overflowing wave of calm and serenity. Pools of water spilling onto each other, and in the center rested Blue, her fur melting into the pool she lay in, glowing softly and seemingly leaking quintessence. White’s crack was exactly that, a crack. Emitting a harsh glow that nearly blinded her. She often had to squeeze to get through it, and on the other side was the White Hole, swirling around her and tentatively reaching out to brush against her. That was their bond, slow, cautious, one that needed trust.

 

On some days when Allura had free time, she would often come to the observation deck just to enter her own headspace and try to reach her connection with White. Sometimes she would walk on forever until the memories of Oriande became too painful and she would run back seeking the comforting waters of Blue’s cave. Other times the bond would simply flicker out of her grasp, and she’d have to wake herself up in order to reset her mindscape to prevent becoming lost.

 

Today though, the bond was strong, stronger than it had ever been. Perhaps White was trying to reach out to her too. Allura ran quickly along the line, eventually reaching the harshly glowing crack which had appeared to have grown larger. She slipped through with ease and found herself not in the White Hole, but instead at the Temple she visited on Oriande. The very same one she thought of when opening the wormhole.

 

White was standing in front of it, and she ran up to them. They nodded their head in brief greeting before turning and walking calmly into the Temple. Allura followed alongside them, looking along the walls at the statues that had appeared to have taken some damage. She didn't recognize any of their odd crumbling states from the last time she visited. She turned to White, and opened her mouth, only to discover no sound came out when she did. She projected her thoughts to White instead.

 

༓☾What happened to the statues, they weren’t like this the last time I came here.☽༓

 

White turned to her, still advancing ahead, -:✧ The statues have taken some hard hits from the Druids and Honerva. They are secondary guardians to the temple. When she came here, she sent her druids to distract them while she came for me instead.✧:-

 

Allura hummed and placed her hands on the two familiar pillars from before. She found herself and White back in the place they had battled in before. Instead this time, White was sitting down in front of her.

 

-:✧You came here to discuss something, yes?✧:-

 

She nodded before speaking- er, thinking. ༓☾ I wanted to talk about what happened earlier today. It seems like we were attacked, do you know what happened?☽༓

 

-:✧The Druids have been guarding the entrance to the White Hole ever since I rejected Honerva during her trial. She sent them to attack anyone who came close enough to be judged, in order to buy herself some time to figure out a different strategy.✧:-

 

༓☾Surely she should have known about what it takes to be judged fairly,☽༓ Allura inquired

 

-:✧The judgment process involved a lot more than choosing on one half. I ultimately make the final decision. Based on Memories, Ideals, and Weaknesses.✧:-

 

Allura found herself gasping, ༓☾ That’s what I see every time I come to visit you!☽༓

 

-:✧It is no coincidence. I have chosen you for a reason Allura, I see your dedication to preserving Altean culture, it is a pure one, unlike that of Lotor. I see your heart, how it is filled with love and admiration towards your teammates. I see your bravery, your kindness, your curiosity.✧:-

 

White paused, and stood up, leaning their forehead against Allura’s, ༓☾ I see you, and you are beautiful.✧:-

 

Allura blushed and looked at White. Their yellow eyes were shining a lot softer than before, brimming with honesty. She smiled, warmly, knowing they were telling the truth. She then hardened her expression into one of determination and stood up.

 

༓☾Follow me, I want to see if you can enter a physical form like the rest of the Lions.☽༓

 

White nodded and closed their eyes, teleporting them back outside the crack in the darkness, light still leaking out of it.

 

The two followed the bond together, side by side. It felt oddly symbolic, walking along the strings of fate with the one you are bonded to. Soon enough the string came to an end, and Blue’s strings appeared shortly ahead of them, still shining brightly.

 

Allura ran up to the strings and turned around to face White, ༓☾ I’m going to see if I can find Blue here, she can probably help you with your physical form.☽༓

 

White laid down and set their head on their two front paws, -:✧ Alright, I shall wait for you two here then.✧:-

 

Allura turned around again and began to run briskly along the strong connection, eventually reaching the softly glowing mouth of Blue’s cavern. She entered and immediately picked out Blue from the various pools of elevated water. Scaling the landforms she knelt down in the water next to Blue and shook her gently. The water rippled around Allura’s knees when she moved, but stayed still when Blue did. Slowly, the Lioness raised her head and opened her yellow eyes, regarding Allura with a warm look.

 

◃:✫Hello Allura, anything I can help you with?✫:▹

 

Allura smiled, ༓☾ Yes actually, I have someone I want you to meet.☽༓

 

Blue looked confused for a tick, but then stood up in one fluid motion as if she herself were made of water. ◃:✫ Okay then, you know I trust you, lead the way.✫:▹

 

As they made their way out of the cavern, the drops of water slowly rushed off of them and returned to the pools, still leaving behind a lingering sense of serenity. When they finally reached White, they stood up and approached Blue. Blue seemed to tense slightly beside her but relaxed a bit when White nodded calmly to her before looking back at Allura.

 

◃:✫So,✫:▹ Blue began, ◃:✫ This is the White Lion, right?✫:▹

 

White nodded, -:✧ Pleasure to meet you Blue. I have seen great things about you.✧:-

 

Blue looked a little confused at that statement before Allura ‘spoke’ up. ༓☾ I was hoping you, Blue, you teach White how to project themselves into the real world, considering they don’t have a Lion counterpart.☽༓

 

Blue smiled so her eyes crinkled, ◃:✫ Of course, I would be more than happy to! In order to do this, I need both of you to focus. Allura, you must focus on the physical world and do so without waking, can you do that?✫:▹

 

Allura narrowed her eyes in determination, ༓☾ It might be difficult but I can certainly try.☽༓

 

◃:✫Great,✫:▹ she then turned to White, ◃:✫ I am going to need you to focus on solidifying. This is an easier process with a physical form you can refer to but I’m sure it can work with your spirit as well. Think about the most solid form you’ve taken, or maybe an experience where you interacted with anything solid that you were able to touch without passing through.✫:▹

 

White closed their eyes and hummed softly, the light starting to blur around their edges. ◃:✫ I’ll take that as you trying, okay. Is everyone ready? Just focus on my voice and I will direct you through this…✫:▹

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇


“Hey,” Lance spoke up, walking towards where Allura was sitting on the observation deck.

 

“I finished the damage assessment with Keith a couple ticks ago, how’s everything going?”

 

He leaned over and looked at Allura’s face, her eyes were closed. She looked peaceful.

 

“Oh shit, sorry ‘lura. I’ll leave you and your Lion Bonding alone.” he said, straightening and turning to walk out the door.

 

Suddenly, Allura jerked awake. Lance turned around to watch as a Huge White Lion leaped out of her chest and landed gracefully on the ground. He saw with an open mouth as Allura slowly stood up and looked at the beast, then slowly walked forward to hug it.

 

“Good job, White. Welcome to the Castleship.”

 

The tender moment hung in the air until Lance finally decided to alert them of his presence.

 

“Uhh… what the quiznak just happened?!”

 

Allura flinched and turned around, the Lion behind her seemingly unaffected and barely bat an eyelash at Lance’s sudden question.

 

“Oh! Lance! When did you get here?” Allura said, looking a little frightened.

 

“I came in a couple ticks ago to tell you Keith and I finished our damage control. The castle needs some repairs, just a couple panels, and stuff, nothing too big. Anyway, I came here to ask you where they might be stored, but let’s put that aside and focus on the GIANT FREAKING LION THAT JUST HOPPED OUT OF YOUR CHEST!” he yelled, gesturing to White.

 

“Ah, yes, I don’t suppose you two have met before. Lance, this is White, the Guardian of Oriande.”

 

White stepped forward and, if possible, looked even more regal.

 

“Wait… weren’t you the dude who attacked us the first time we came here?”

 

White, to their credit, looked a bit guilty at this, “That is correct, however, it was all in good nature. I cannot let those who are unworthy of learning the secrets of Altean Alchemy into Oriande. The power could be too much for them to handle.”

 

Lance nodded, “So you sent the distress signal?”

 

“Correct.”

 

Lance clapped his hands together and smiled, “Perfect! Now that the extractions’ done, we can get the hell out of here!”

 

Allura shook her head, “Not so fast, Lance. We still need to chase the Druids out of Oriande. Considering the guardian is no longer present, the planet has been left venerable. We need to make sure Haggar cannot access the secrets it holds.”

 

“That is true, however, I assure you that Oriande can survive without my protection. If I leave, the only thing that will be missing is the final trial. Considering the only Alteans left are under Galra control, I do not think any new Altean Alchemists, aside from you, will be a common occurrence.” White added.

 

“Then we must finish these new additions quickly, if we leave the gate open for the Druids for too long, they will eventually contact Haggar. I don’t wish to find out what happens when she arrives.”

 

Lance made his way over to the door, “Got it, I’ll go tell Pidge, Hunk, and Romelle to hurry up. See you later Princess. Oh, And White of course~”

 

With that, he was out into the hallway.

 

“Wait! Lance! I haven’t told you where to find the repair materials for the castle!” Allura yelled after him.

 

The squeaking of shoes could be heard from the hallway as Lance whirled around and entered again, frantic. He leaned himself on the doorframe to appear casual. He failed miserably.

 

“Oh! Ha, almost forgot, uh… where are they exactly?” he said, feigning casualness.

 

She sighed and said, “Down the hallway between the bridge and the hangars, if you remember the room the Scoltrite were stored in, there is a section that opens up to a larger room with organized compartments for repair materials. Show Coran the damage done and ask for the appropriate parts. Once you are done, do NOT forget to turn the lights off, it could cause a reaction with some of the parts in there if they are left to long exposure to light.”

 

Lance tilted his head in confusion, “Why do we have parts of the castle that get weird when exposed to light?”

 

“They usually go underneath the plating on the castle, meaning they don’t see enough light to become reactive.”

 

“Good to know, good to know… see ya!” he said, running out the door once more.

 

...

 

“Are… all of your crew members like this?” White asked, hesitant.

 

“Fortunately, no. He’s probably the only one that’s like that.”

 

“How disappointing, I have grown quite fond of him already.”

 

Allura stared up at White in disbelief, “Are you being serious?”

 

“Of course I am, I would never lie to you, Allura,” White said, with no hint of sarcasm.

 

“Of all my Paladins, you chose to be fond of Lance?”

 

“Of course, he seems sweet and insecure, I want to love him. Why, is there anything wrong with that?”

 

Allura blushed in embarrassment, “No! Of course not! You are entitled to your own opinions of course… just, it’s a rather unpopular one at that.”

 

White raised an eyebrow, “Unpopular?”

 

“Yes, most people find Lance to be… well… annoying… and stupid.”

 

White’s face showed no emotion, but their eyes gleamed with murder, “They are wrong.”

 

“Well, I kind of agree… he can be annoying sometimes-”

 

“No. They are wrong. The only reason he is ‘’annoying’’ is that he seeks attention due to the absence of his large family. Considering nobody finds his jokes funny anymore, he attempts to gain attention through negative reactions. They hurt him, but at least he knows nobody will forget about him. He has good intentions, he is simply lonely, and requires validation.”

 

Allura gaped at White, “H-how do you… know all of this?”

 

White looked towards the door, “I have access to everyone’s quintessence signatures as per my judgment, I read their personalities and intentions to judge their character. I simply read Lances when he made his presence know.”

 

Allura looked down at her feet, White continued, “I suppose we should go to the bridge to figure out the next course of action.”

 

She nodded, not daring to speak. Then she felt a soft paw land on her shoulder, it was surprisingly light, but still felt comforting.

 

“Allura,” White spoke, she looked up at them, “I know you are feeling guilty about this, it is not entirely your fault. I am sure Lance would feel more appreciated if you were to spend more time with him.”

 

Allura smiled slightly, she hadn’t considered that Lance’s actions were a result of needing validation. I guess I just thought he was already given enough, but really, we’ve been pushing his idea’s away more than we have been considering them.

 

The two walked out the observation doors and into the cool hallway, a comfortable silence settling in the air around them. When they reached the bridge, they found most of the group huddled around Pidge’s workstation, Allura assumed she had finished her security camera prototype. She made it in time to catch the end of Pidge’s sentence.

 

“-of course, they will be bigger, considering this is only an example. In the real version, I want to have a higher quality camera, and we need to update the motion sensors since these motherfuckers are fast-”

 

“Pidge. Language.” Shiro interrupted

 

“Right, sorry Shiro,” Pidge corrected, “So anyway, as I was saying- Oh! Hey Allura!”

 

Everyone turned around to acknowledge the Allura’s entry, “How did the summoning of White go?”

 

“Fantastic actually! Everyone, I have someone to introduce…” as she said this, White stepped through the open doors, walking over to stand beside Allura. “Meet the White Lion.”

 

They were all wide-eyed in awe for a moment, before Krolia spoke up, “You were the one who sent the distress signal, correct?”

 

White turned their yellow eyes to her, “Yes, that was me. As mentioned in my message, the Druids were sent by Honerva to guard the White Hole to prevent passage for anyone, Altean or otherwise.”

 

“That means it was definitely a Druid that attacked us.” Hunk piped up.

 

Allura turned to him, “When do you think the cameras will be ready?”

 

Pidge looked to her prototype, fiddling with it for a tick, before looking up at Allura, “With a few extra hands, I can probably have all six done for tomorrow.”

 

“Alright,” Allura sighed, “Then I will let you get to work, Hunk and Romelle can- hold on a tick.”

 

“What?” Shiro asked.

 

“Where is Romelle?”

 

Pidge and Hunk eyed each other before Hunk spoke to Allura, “She… may or may not be… sleeping? On Yellow?”

 

Allura was silent for a moment before closing her eyes and sighing, “Okay, okay, I’ll just have Keith and Lance help you once they finish repairs on the ship. Shiro, you and Krolia can take a break, Altea knows you need it. Coran, I want you to help Pidge in order to make sure her technology is compatible with our Altean tech.”

 

“Of course Princess!” Coran said while following Pidge and Hunk out the doors, “Did you know when I was a kid my Pop-pop let me help him with his ship? I was in charge of building those security drones you used to fight off against smaller threats.”

 

“You mean the ones Keith and Lance repeatedly smashed together?” Hunk asked.

 

“Er, yes. Fortunately for them, those drones were made of a re-enforced Altean metal called Romine . Actually, I think we still have some left over in our parts and storage room! Come with me Paladins, no time to waste!”

 

Pidge and Hunk gave each other excited looks before hurrying down the hallway after Coran.

 

“Princess,” Shiro spoke up, “Are you sure we can’t be doing anything else? Of course, I can’t speak for Krolia, but I know I’d rather be doing something useful other than sleeping.”

 

Krolia nodded and walked up to them, “I agree with Shiro, when I worked for the Blade of Marmora, we were more used to set sleeping schedules that we occasionally ignored in favor of our missions. I am much more equipped for working.”

 

Allura shook her head and grasped them by the shoulders, “I am absolutely certain. You two need more rest than all of us combined, do not be afraid to take some time for self-care. In fact! I should ask Lance to help you, he is quite good at that.”

 

“But Princess I-” Shiro started.

 

“That is an order, Shiro.” Allura interrupted coldly, before smiling sweetly and pushing them out the door, “You two have fun now! When you find Lance, ask Keith to go help Hunk and Pidge with the security cameras!”

 

With that, they were out the door and into the hallway.

 

“Ummm, what just happened?” Shiro asked.

 

“I believe the princess has just ordered us to care for ourselves,” Krolia answered.

 

“Yes, I know that. I want to know why,”

 

“She said it was because we are overworked?” Krolia said, but she phrased it like a question because she too was confused.

 

Shiro sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, “Alright, let’s go find Lance.”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

“You guys want him to what?”

 

They found Keith and Lance arm deep in wires and metal, arguing about what size cables they needed in order to attach the plates to the castle's body. Keith thought it would be easier to use bolts instead of cables and Lance argued they needed to do it properly or he would get yelled at.

 

It was an interesting conversation, but now that the relaxation matter had been brought up, it only added more confusion. Keith and Lance were now still standing in the pile and staring at Shiro and Krolia like they had grown two heads.

 

“Host a spa day,” Shiro repeated.

 

“The Princess has ordered us to relax, and she recommended you for the job.”

 

Lances face lit up, Shiro thinks he might have been crying, “This is the best opportunity of my life! I am going to make you guys feel so pampered, you won’t even know what hit you.”

 

Krolia scoffed, “Of course I would know what hit me, you aren’t exactly the stealthiest of Paladins. Or of people. In fact, you’re rather-”

 

Keith sighed loudly to interrupt her, “Okay, great, spa day, fantastic, can we get back to work now?”

 

Shiro almost breathed a sigh in relief, Krolia looked visibly less tense as well, “Sure, sounds great, I’ll help lend a hand.”

 

“Literally,” Lance muttered under his breath. Keith slapped him on the shoulder, but he was smiling.

 

“I can help as well, I have a feeling you’re going to need some extra strength to carry those sheets of metal,” Krolia said.

 

Lance clapped his hands, “Alright repair team, the first order of business, let’s pick out these cables!”

 

“Lance.” Keith piped up.

 

“Yeah, Keefers?” Lance responded, turning to look at the other boy.

 

“One, don’t call me that again,”

 

“Okay, Keefers.”

 

Keith just sighed dejectedly and continued, “Two, shouldn’t our first order of business be untangling ourselves from this mess?”

 

Lance looked down at the pile of wires and metal surrounding them, then he looked back up at Keith, “Uh yeah, good idea Samurai. Hey, can we get some help over here?!”

 

Shiro chuckled, half at Lance, and half at the small blush that came over Keith’s face when Lance called him ‘’Samurai’’. “No problem you two, hang on, we’ll get you out of there.”

 

“How did you even manage to get so tangled up in all of this,” Krolia muttered under her breath as they approached the pile.

 

“Well first-” Lance began.

 

“Stop. It was a rhetorical question, I don’t want to hear it.” She interrupted.

 

“Well too bad, cause you asked! Okay, so first-”


◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

Allura paced up and down the short distance across the doors to Pidge’s designated tech area while she waited for the shorter girl to complete her first camera. White waited patiently outside the door, head on their paws as they watched Allura pace with a bored expression.

 

“You know…” they started, “At the rate you are going, you ought to bore holes in the floor by the time she has completed the cameras.”

 

Allura stopped pacing to glare at White, who didn’t seem to bat an eyelash when she practically drilled through their skull with her eyeballs. “Very unhelpful advice, White. You know, I never thought I’d be taking advice from Lance, but, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut your quiznak.”

 

White raised an eyebrow, “I am not sure that term is being used properly.”

 

Allura leaned against the door and sighed, “Oh, it’s not, but it’s still relevant in this case.”

 

“Understood, and what if I do happen to have something nice to say?”

 

Now it was Allura’s turn to raise an eyebrow, “Like what?”

 

White shrugged, “You have beautiful eyes, Princess.”

 

Allura blushed a little and looked down, “Ah, that- that’s very nice but- hEY!” she bristled as she looked up to point an accusing finger at White, “You’re just trying to distract me from your previous comment!”

 

White blinked at her, impassive, “Ah, no, you have caught me. However shall I go on…”

 

Allura crossed her arms, “I could do without the sarcasm, White. You know, for an ancient being of all-powerful intelligence, you don’t seem to act very maturely.”

 

White stood, and promptly ignored Allura’s comment as they proceeded to walk in the opposite direction down the hallway.

 

Allura ran to catch up with them, “Hey! Where do you think you’re going?!”

 

White regarded her presence with a mere side-eye, “ I am going to find something less boring to do than watch you pace and complain.” Allura started stuttering at that before White interrupted, “I do not mean to cause any offense, Princess. I am simply trying to get your mind off of the security cameras. I can see you tense at the mere mention of them, they seem to remind you of your encounter with the Druids, am I correct?”

 

Allura shivered and looked down, nodding. “That is correct…”

 

White finally turned to acknowledge her, a small smile in place on their face, “Then I suggest we go find something to distract you from those thoughts. What do you say we go wake up Romelle?”

 

She returned White’s smile with her own sunny one, “That sounds great, White. Her room is just this way, follow me!” With that, she took off down the hall, now thoroughly distracted and excited to bond with the blonde Altean. White shook their head fondly before racing down the hall after her.

 

She made no hesitation walking right up to the door and knocking loudly on it until she heard a motion from inside the room.

 

The door slid open revealing an incredibly sleepy Romelle, dressed in a wrinkled sleep shirt Allura had lent her and her two pigtails were undone, leaving tangled hair cascading in messy waves down her shoulders.

 

She was… beautiful… in a way…

 

Wait, what?

 

Allura shook off those particular thoughts and looked into Romelle’s squinting purple eyes, “Hello there, Romelle. Did you enjoy your nap?”

 

Romelle rubbed at her eyes and mumbled out, “mhmm…” Yellow came up to stand beside her, fur also visibly mussed.

 

“Hello, Allura! Anything you needed?”

 

Allura smiled at the cheerfulness in Yellow’s voice despite him appearing quite drowsy, “Yes, actually! White and I were wondering if you wanted to join us in… er- White, what exactly is it that we’re doing?” she asked as she turned to look at White, hands clasped together.

 

White seemed to shrug before responding, “Anything that is not counterproductive, but still manages to keep our minds off of the impending event.”

 

She nodded at that before turning back to the two standing in the doorway, “Yes! Exactly that, so? What about it?”

 

Romelle yawned before using her hands to de-tangle her blonde hair, “Sounds great, ‘Llura. Let me just get ready, I don’t exactly mind being seen like this but…”

 

Allura blushed and looked away, “O-of course! Yes, we’ll give you a moment to sort yourselves out. Meanwhile, White, Yellow and I can organize our activities!”

 

Yellow tilted his head to the side, “We can??”

 

She grasped Yellow’s broad shoulders and moved him into the open hallway, Yellow shivered a bit, partially at the temperature change, and partially at the iron grip Allura had on his shoulders. “Why, yes, of course, we can!” Allura said giving Yellow a side-eye that read I dare you to argue with me.

 

“R-right! Yes, uh- you go get dressed, we will handle things out here!” Yellow stuttered, now shivering from the pure intensity held within Allura’s gaze.

 

Romelle nodded hesitantly and turned back towards the room, “Alright then, I’ll be out in just a tick.” With that, the door shut behind her and audibly locked.

 

 

“Soooo…” White began, eyeing Allura’s lingering blush, “What was that all about, hmm?”

 

Allura flushed again and blustered out, “N-nothing, of course! Absotively, positutely, nothing!”

 

White raised a single eyebrow, but Yellow spoke up before they got to comment. “Ooh~ I have an idea! How about we go into the kitchen and bake a celebratory cake for when we defeat the Druids!”

 

Their attention turned to Yellow, “An excellent idea, Yellow. However, I regret to inform you, that none of us are very good at cooking without specific set instructions. In order to gain said instructions, we would need to bother Hunk, which would end up being counterproductive as he is currently occupied building the security cameras with Pidge. We certainly do not want to delay them, do we?”

 

Yellow blinked a couple times before smiling sheepishly, “Ah, I guess not. That was kinda my only idea though… anyone have any others?”

 

White nodded and spoke up, “Actually, I was thinking that we could do some research on the properties of the White Hole itself. It could give you more information on Altean Alchemy, Allura.”

 

Allura’s eyes widened, “Would you really be able to do that for us?”

 

“Of course, consider me your mentor for now. If you have any questions regarding the possibilities of Altean Alchemy, you can ask me. This would also be a brilliant chance to record your questions and update the data log your father started.”

 

Allura looked confused, “My… father? King Alfor? I don’t understand… he never mentioned having a data log on alchemy.”

 

“He could have wanted to keep it a secret, after all, this alchemy is pretty strong. If any potential enemies of the Altean Empire were to get their hands on those secrets, it could be catastrophic. They could even be able to build their own Voltron!”

 

Allura turned to Yellow, “Build their own Voltron!? You mean…”

 

White spoke up, “The secrets recorded in your father’s data logs were information surrounding Altean Alchemy, but they also included a day to day update log on the progress of Voltron. Yellow is right if those instructions were followed carefully enough, anyone could end up with their own Voltron.”

 

“But Voltron is unique! Its pieces were forged out of a one-of-a-kind comet! I don’t  understand…”

 

“Remember how Lotor found a similar comet? Then managed to build his own Voltron?” White interrupted.

 

“Well… yes, but-”

 

“Your Voltron is not as one-of-a-kind as you imagined, Allura. The only thing that made Voltron special was the alchemy that went into it. Gaining those secrets from the data logs your father recorded means that anyone and I mean anyone, could build their very own Voltron. Or possibly something even better, as long as they had an Altean.”

 

Allura looked down at the floor, contemplating. The door to Romelle’s room opened, revealing Romelle fresh and ready for the days' activities.

 

“So! What are we doing today?” she piped up, cheery despite the tension that hit her like a wave when she had opened the doors.

 

“The library,” White said, without hesitation. “We are headed to the castle library to learn about Altea.”

 

Romelle’s eyes practically sparkled at that, “The royal Altean archives! I’ve only heard stories of those! They say the books lined from floor to ceiling and contained information to answer all the questions of the universe!”

 

Allura chuckled and looked up, “I don’t know about all the questions of the universe…”

 

Romelle’s face fell, and Allura hastily spoke up again, “But there are certainly a lot! Let us not waste another tick! This way to the archives!”

 

Before she could chicken out, Allura grabbed Romelle’s hand and raced down the hallway, heart beating wildly in her throat as the two Lion’s watched them leave.

 

“Awww, they’re so adorable…” Yellow cooed.

 

White nodded, amused, “Certainly. However, they seem to be pulling ahead.” They turned to Yellow and offered a mock paw out for the taking, “Shall we, my good sir?”

 

Yellow grabbed the paw, batting his eyes, “Oh~ why of course. Lead the way.”

 

With that, White chuckled and held Yellow’s paw as the walked down the hallway.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Romelle’s eyes practically sparkled as the library’s tall shelves came into view.

 

“Oh my… I’ve never seen so many books!”

 

Allura smiled softly, “Yes, well, my father was rather fond of reading. I took after him in that sense, though I must admit, I haven’t been here in quite some time.”

 

Romelle hurried her pace and ran up to one of the bookshelves.

 

 

She swiped her finger across the spine of a royal blue book, wiping off a significant layer of dust.

 

“I don’t know where to even begin looking, there must be like, a thousand books in here!”

 

Allura chuckled, “Well, you’re not wrong there, but I assure you, there’s a lot more than a mere thousand.”

 

The blonde Alteans head whipped around to stare at Allura, eyes wide, “M-more than a-?”

 

She cut her off by walking over to the directory in the middle of the room. “Let’s begin searching, shall we? I have no doubt this will take us long so we must not waste any time.”

 

Romelle followed her, looking over her shoulder as Allura typed in a few keywords.

 

“There we have it, shelf H, sections twelve through fourteen.”

 

Romelle tilted her head to the side in question, face now closer to Allura’s while still being over her shoulder. “Correct me if I’m wrong but, I always thought Altea was spelled with an ‘A’”

 

Allura averted her eyes and blushed a bit at their sudden proximity, “Yes… but my father was fond of organizing his books not Alphabetically but by subject. Since he has so many, he dedicated the shelves to individual spaces. It just makes things easier to find…”

 

Romelle raised her eyebrows, then Allura abruptly continued, “Of course, after sorted into sections they are organized alphabetically. We aren’t animals after all.”

 

She snorted and looked back at the map now shown on the directory screen. She raised her finger to press slightly on the pulsing pink dot before pulling it up to point down one of the multiple bookshelf corridors, “Sooooo, section H is over there?”

 

Allura shook her head and grabbed Romelle’s hand, “Not quite,” she said, adjusting it slightly to point down a separate corridor, two shelves down. Her small hand felt dainty against the princesses own, and incredibly soft. It was as if she had absorbed an entire bottle of Lance’s sweet smelling moisturizer. Her nails were manicured and smooth, with a slight bit of nude polish that was slowly chipping away. Allura’s face heated again, but she found herself not wanting to let go.

 

This is a friend thing, right? I see Lance, Hunk, and Pidge holding hands all the time! I’m almost certain they don’t feel like this while doing it though…

 

She snapped out of her contemplating to hear Romelle clear her throat, their hands resting between them, intertwined.

 

Quiznak, this might not be as platonic as they demonstrated.

 

“Should we get going? I mean, we don’t want to waste time or anything…”

 

Allura looked up from their hands to stare at the other Altean, “Uhh, yes! Of course, er- right this way!”

She began walking towards the bookshelf until Romelle stopped her, “Isn’t, section H that way? This is the path you told me not to go down…”

 

And promptly died of embarrassment.

 

“Yes, yes it is. Let’s go, Romelle,” Allura said, head held low so the other girl couldn’t see the raging blush occupying her face.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the castle, Lance was mixing up a food goo mixture to use as a face mask base.

 

“Lance…” Shiro began, looking warily at the bowl, “Are you sure this is… hygienic?”

 

Said boy rolled his eyes and scoffed, “Are you doubting my skills as a beauty guru Shiro?”

 

Keith snorted, “Beauty guru, really?”

 

Lance stuck his tongue out and ignored him, “Don’t worry, Shiro. I’ve been through this routine plenty of times. Besides, shouldn’t you be grateful you know what’s going into them? Most face masks on Earth are made with natural ingredients anyway, so this is basically the best thing we got!” he broke eye contact and stared at the bowl thoughtfully, “And I guess you could eat it too if you really wanted. Might make you sick though…”

 

Krolia looked scandalized for a minute before hesitantly putting some food goo into her mouth, Lance let out a high pitched squeal that nearly made her choke.

 

“Not NOW! We have to use this for the face masks! Geez, were you raised in a BARN??”

 

Krolia gave him a deadpan stare before answering, “No. I was raised on a ship. What is a barn?”

 

Lance closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose like he’d seen Shiro do when he was stressed, “ Dios mío, Lord give me strength…”

 

Keith cleared his throat from where he was petting his wolf on Lance’s bed, “Uhh, so Lance, what exactly happens during your,” at this point he raised his fingers to put quotations around “bonding moments”. Lance did not miss the small smirk that came with that sentence, which was unfair because he was emotionally unstable and that could be considered bullying.

 

“Well first of all Keef, ” that nickname was revenge for the ‘bonding moment’ comment, “I usually call them spa seshes or sleepovers. Secondly, to answer your question…” Lance flopped down on the bed beside him and pulled a couple board games from his pillowcase, “We chill and play games!”

 

Krolia raised an eyebrow skeptically, “This seems counterproductive, we should be helping the others with the new security measures.”

 

Lance released an over-dramatic gasp and placed a hand against his chest, “Are you suggesting we disobey a direct order from the Princess??

 

She tensed at that, “Well… no, but-”

 

He cut her off quickly, “Nope! Not happening. I will get my spa day even if I have to lock you in this room to get it!”

 

Keith raised his hand, “If you have to lock the room, can I be excused? I don’t think I’m supposed to be here anyway…”

 

Lance shook his head, “Nuh-uh, sorry Keefers, you’re not getting out of this that easily. Now, the mixture is all done, so I’ll teach you how to spread it on your faces.”

 

He divided the mixture into 4 separate bowls and handed three of them to the others.

 

“Now just dip your hands in, and use the mirror to spread it aaaaall around”

 

Lance did the motions with practiced ease, not even needing a mirror to apply the cold mixture to his face. When he opened his eyes however, he saw the others were less than successful.

 

“Am I doing it right?” asked Shiro, who had goo all over his eyebrows. Lance couldn’t bear to disappoint the man, so he simply held a thumbs up. He glanced over to Krolia, who was staring her reflection in the mirror down so hard Lance was afraid it might melt.

 

“Okay, Shiro, you’re good to go, go help Krolia,” he instructed. Shiro wiped off the extra goo from his hand and scooted over to help the Galran woman.

 

Then Lance looked at Keith, who was so adorably hyper-focused on getting his mask on correctly that his forehead was gaining wrinkles and his nose was all scrunched up.

 

Cute…

 

Wait, what??

 

Lance mentally shook off that thought and decided to replace it with the fact that Keith was actually doing a horrendous job of applying his mask. He sighed, walking over to the other boy and sitting criss-cross applesauce in front of him, holding a pre-wet rag for corrections.

 

“Keith, buddy, you’re killing me over here. Just, let me do it.”

 

Keith pulled back from the rag, as Lance tried to wipe off the dripping goo, “What? No, I’m doing this myself.”

 

“C’mon Keef-” Lance started.

 

“-Not a chance, Lance. It a face mask, how hard can it be-”

 

“-That’s big talk, coming from someone who’s not even doing it right in the first place-”

 

“-Lance! Let me go, I want to do my own!-”

 

“-I WON’T LET YOUR PRETTY FACE BE SUBJECT TO SUCH POOR TREATMENT!”

 

“-WELL HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO- wait, what?” Keith stopped in shock.

 

“...what?” Lance asked.

 

“You just called my face pretty.” Keith pointed out, a faint blush visible on his cheeks.

 

Lance felt heat rush rapidly to his face. “No I didn’t!” he defended.

 

“Yes, you did! You said I won’t let your pretty face be subject to such poor treatment !” Keith said, including a horrible impression on Lance.

 

Said boy squeaked in offense, “I do not sound like that! And I didn’t say pretty!”

 

“Oh really?” Keith challenged, “Then what did you say?”

 

Lance stuttered for a hot minute before yelling out, “I said shitty!”

 

Keith didn’t believe him for a second, and it showed. “Oh suuure.”

 

“I’m serious!” Lance flushed.

 

“Uh huh, no I totally believe you, Lance. My shitty face is definitely not pretty, cooler, older, or grizzled.” Keith said teasingly, a stupid smirk set on his (perfect) lips.

 

At this point, Lance was full on ready to die. Thankfully, Shiro took that exact moment to be a lifesaver and ask for Lances help to apply moisturizer to his scars.

 

“This isn’t over Mullet.” Lance seethed, smearing goo quickly onto Keith’s face (correctly this time).

 

Keith sputtered slightly as Lance got up to go help Shiro. He stared as Lance gently massaged Shiro’s left arm from where it was disconnected with his prosthetic, smiling softly.

 

Maybe I do have a chance after all...

Chapter Text

“Hunk, pass me the- oh, thanks.”

 

The security cameras were almost complete, and they’d made a couple of extras, Hunks hands were starting to hurt so he retired from tinkering and resorted to handing any tools Pidge or Coran needed for their final devices.

 

“Okay, I’m all done with my pile. You need any help, Coran?” Pidge asked, standing up and stretching.

 

“Not to worry number 5! I’ll be done in a dobash or two, why don’t both of you start installing the cameras. I’ll meet you on the bridge when they're done.” He said, not looking up from his camera and twisting his mustache.

 

“Sounds good. I’ll grab a bag from my room so we can carry them easier.” Hunk said. Pidge nodded and grabbed the toolbox.

 

“I’ll put our stuff away.”

 

Hunk nodded and jogged down the hallway, the door closing behind him. He made a beeline over to Romelle’s door, he’d seen Yellow in there previously and to be honest, he was kinda missing the guys' company.

 

He opened the door to find an empty room, no Lion or Altean in sight. There was a pile of crumpled pajamas next to the closet along with a standard castle-ship blanket.

 

I guess they left? Don’t know why they didn’t come to find us though…

 

Hunk shrugged and left the room, walking over to the main hallway. He heard a couple of voices coming from Lance’s room beside him, and well… he’s never been one to ignore his curiosity.

 

The door opened with a woosh in front of him, “Hey guys, the cameras are almost done. So we might need some help installing those in a sec. Whatcha doing?”

 

He finally gave them all a proper once over. They all had goo spread around their faces, Shiro and Keith had their shirts off- wow, that’s a lot of muscle- to prevent the mixture from staining them. Krolia was also there, most likely passed out on the floor, with Kosmo resting on her stomach.

 

How can she sleep like that? The floor’s so uncomfortable, and Kosmo’s pretty heavy…

 

“Hey Hunk, we’re just having a good ol’ spa day. Y’know since these workaholics think the definition of rest is productivity or training and shit like that.” Lance answered, massaging Keith’s bare shoulders with lotion.

 

Shiro hummed from where he was resting on the bed. “Language, Lance.”

 

“Sorry, Dad ”. He replied, making Keith snort.

 

Hunk nodded, “Alright, well I’d hate to rush you guys but-”

 

Krolia’s eyes snapped open and she jumped up, almost making everyone shit themselves (everyone but Keith, he was used to this behavior).

 

“I can be down there to help in a dobash, I just need to get this… stuff off my face,” she said, running into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

 

Lance sighed heavily, leaning his head on Keith's shoulders, making the other boy blush. “She really needs to keep that on, her pores are bigger than my d-”

 

“Dedication to Voltron.” Shiro snapped from the bed, glaring at Lance as Keith practically combusted.

 

“Ugh. Shiro, you’re no fun. Besides, s’not like it’s not true.”

 

Keith cleared his throat, still blushing, “Please don’t talk about my mom’s pores.”

 

Lance scoffed and raised his head, “You should be grateful, Mullet. You didn’t end up with pores as atrocious as hers.”

 

Krolia emerged from the bathroom, rubbing her wet face with a towel, “I’m not sure what ‘pores’ are but I know they’re unimportant so I’m going to ignore you.”

 

“Heathen.” Lance hissed under his breath. Keith elbowed him in the stomach.

 

“Okay! Well, you guys enjoy your spa day. Lance, save some mask goo for me. I’ll see you guys later!” Hunk said, Krolia walking past him.

 

“Sure thing bro, you know these bonding moments don’t count without you!” Lance chirped.

 

“Aww, bro.”

 

“Bro.”

 

“Go.” Keith seethed, probably mad about the ‘bonding moment’ thing.

 

Man, that guy, and his bonding. That sounds weird. I’m gonna not think about this.

 

“Alright, alright, we’re waiting for you at the bridge. See ya!”

 

He closed the door behind him, and Lance let out a tired sigh.

 

“Okay, maybe we should wrap this thing up…”

 

Keith whirled around, “What? But I thought you said-”

 

“Yeah, I know. But I don’t wanna keep you guys from the important stuff Hunk wants you to do. Just because I want to take the day off doesn’t mean I should. Or that I should force you guys to join me.”

 

Shiro sat up on the bed, “Thank you, Lance. I’m sorry we didn’t get to spend more time on this.” He got up and patted Lance’s head on his way to wash off the mask. “Maybe next time,” he smiled.

 

Keith glared at the floor, but the effect was weakened by the gooey mass on his face.

 

“Keith… Hey, Keith. Keef, Keefers, Keitharoonie.” Lance pestered, poking the other boy's shoulder.

 

Keith looked up with a smile, “Keitharoonie? Seriously?”

 

Lance shrugged, “What? I think it’s adorable,” he said, pinching Keith’s cheek.

 

He batted Lance’s hand away, “Whatever you say, loser.”

 

Lance placed a mock offended hand to his chest gasping dramatically, “How dare you, sir. I share my goods with you, and this is how you repay me? Insults and mockery?”

 

Keith rolled his eyes with a smile at his dramatics, “Okay, fine. Thank you, Lance.”

 

He smiled, “You’re so welcome, Keefers”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Pidge exhaled heavily, after tightening the last bolt.

 

“That’s the last one on this side,” she spoke into her com. “I’m heading back now.”

 

“Okay, great, I’m just finishing with this camera. This tool isn’t gripping properly.” Hunk answered.

 

Pidge frowned and looked over at the small Hunk she saw floating around the fourth engine. “You want to borrow mine? I made my own tool since these bolts are pretty slippery.”

 

“Why didn’t I think of that! And, Pidge, I totally would, except I’m kinda panicking at the thought of you hurtling towards me in open space. No offense or anything.”

 

Pidge rolled her eyes, “C’ mon Hunk, you want to get this done or not? Coran’s probably wondering what’s taking so long. Besides, don’t worry about me floating off, it’ll be just like that time in the castle when we thought it was haunted! Except now, I actually have thrusters.”

 

Hunk audibly gulped from the com line, “Yeah… okay, fine. I trust you. Just, don’t die or anything. Please.”

 

Pidge smirked and started flying over, “No promises.”

 


 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

When the rest of the Paladins arrived at the bridge, Coran was ready to debrief them.

 

“Alright Paladins, with these new cameras, everyone should be able to catch the druids. However, we still need to do a test run, so I've asked Lance to go out there now since the Red Lion is the fastest.” Coran explained, before bringing up the com channel he set up with Lance.

 

“How's it going, Lance?” Coran spoke into the mike.

 

Lance grinned at the screen before looking back up out of his windshield, “Looking great, guys. Red and I are just gonna do a couple of warm-up laps, we’ll letcha guys know when we’re ready to go!” With that, he increased his thrusters and sped off away from the castle, before heading back and circling wide paths around it.

 

Pidge spoke up from her station, “I’m picking up some activity through the camera’s, you’re doing great, Lance. Wanna try coming a bit closer?”

 

Lance nodded, “Sure thing, Pidgey!”

 

Pidge rolled her eyes at the nickname, then looked back to the rest of the group, “He’s within range, we’re picking up on his activity. Now, we just need him to go faster…” she rubbed her chin for a bit before looking up at Keith. A wide smirk came over her face, “Keith, as the former Red Paladin, and number one in goading Lance, would you like to do the honors?”

 

Keith returned her smirk, “Number one, huh? Are we sure there’s any competition?” he chuckled before taking her seat.

 

“Alright, Lance. So you've had a couple of practice rounds. You ready to show us some actual talent?”

 

Lance shrieked in indignation, “ Why, I’d never. The nerve of you, Kogane. Fine, you wanna see speed? I’ll show you speed. ” he pushed the thrusters into high gear, and Red shot out like a rocket.

 

Pidge monitored the activity from beside Keith, “Mhmm, close, but not quite Druid speed. Think he can go faster?”

 

Keith smiled, almost fond, “Oh, trust me, I know he can.” He spoke into the com again, “Alright, that's really cute, Lance. But we don't have time to race snails-”

 

The Red Paladin sqwalked at that, “ Did you hear that, Red? Mr. High and Mighty thinks we´re racing snails!” Red growled in agreement. “ Alrighty, Red, but don't blame me if we crash! FULL THROTTLE! Let's show ‘em what we're made of! ” Red roared, and blasted by the main deck, going faster than he ever had before.

 

WHOOO HOOOO! That's what I can speed, baby! Hey, Keith? That fast enough for ya? ” Lance shouted over the com, his downright evil smirk doing messy things to Keith’s heart.

 

He smiled, and replied with a voice that was softer than anything Pidge had ever heard, “That’s perfect, Lance.”

 

Pidge nodded at the results and handed them over to Hunk to analyze, before turning back to Keith, who was staring out into space where Lance was doing his victory laps.

 

Her face grew into an evil smirk, “That’s perfect Lance, and so are you, I want to have half Galran babies with you~ mwah mwah mwah”

 

Keith jumped from the sudden intrusion, his face glowing bright red as he processed the words being spoken to him. “I-I do NOT sound like that!” he said, making a very unconvincing argument judging by the way his voice cracked. His blush retreated to his neck as he slunk down in her seat, “Besides, s’not like it matters or anything, he still likes Allura, even after all these years.”

 

Hunk piped up from beside Pidge, causing Keith to jump again, “Actually, dude, it’s still only been like, a couple of weeks for us. Sorry… plus I for one think he’s getting over it!”

 

Pidge smirked again, “Yeah, and there might be a certain other Alien he’s got the hots for instead~”

 

Keith blinked at them, oblivious, before setting his head down on the desk, groaning, “Don’t tell me he’s crushing on Romelle now…”

 

Pidge facepalmed, “Nope, guess again.”

 

He looked up, “...my Mom?”

 

Hunk sighed, “Getting closer…”

 

Keith sat up ramrod straight (or… maybe not so straight).

 

Finally. Pidge and Hunk thought simultaneously.

 

“Oh my god…” Keith started, “Lance is a furry! He’s got a crush on my dog? What the fuck??”

 

Dammit.

 

“OH MY GOD KEITH, NO” Pidge yelled, grabbing him by the shoulders. “LANCE HAS A HUGE, GAY CRUSH ON YOU AND YOUR NEWLY COOLER AND GRIZZLED OLDER BODY, BUT HIS HEAD IS TOO FAR UP HIS ASS AND HE’S TOO STUBBORN TO SEE IT SO HE’S SWIMMING IN A POOL FULL OF DENIAL!” She let out a breath and exhaled, releasing his shoulders, “That felt good to get off my chest, I wonder why he still won’t admit it.”

 

Keith, on the other hand, was looking majorly distressed. He opened his mouth a few times, and then closed it. His face was also getting steadily redder.

 

Hunk wheeled over to where Pidge was studying him, “Pidge… I think you broke him.”

 

Then Lance decided to break the silence with his general presence.

 

“Helloooo party people! Man, am I dizzy! I’m just gonna take a quick nap right here! Wake me up when it’s time to kick ass.” he announced, strutting into the room clumsily and promptly plopping his head to rest between Keith’s tense shoulder blades. From there, he was out like a light.

 

This, obviously, was not a good thing for Keith.

 

“Oh my god”, he spoke in probably the quietest voice they’d ever heard.

 

“Ohmygod”, he said again, and then he passed out.

 

Hunk winced as his head nearly hit the table, only being saved narrowly by Pidge’s hands. “Do you think he passed out due to the blood rushing to his face?” he asked.

 

Pidge merely sighed in response. “These two idiots are dragging me within an inch of my life, sometimes I wonder how my hair hasn’t gone as white as Shiro’s.”

 

Hunk chuckled softly, “Imagine how he must feel, he’s had to deal with this, on TOP of our behavior. Aaaand the Alteans.”

 

“Poor dude. He deserves a five-year nap.”

 

“Pidge, don’t joke about Shiro’s five-year naps, you’ll trigger Keith.”

 

“Whoops.”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

To Keith, it still felt a bit weird piloting the Black Lion. Especially with Shiro’s return. He still found himself shocked when people looked to him for leadership, especially when he felt as though he didn’t deserve it.

 

He was, after all, gone for too long. He abandoned his team to learn about his Galra lineage and help out with the Blades.

 

It was selfish.

 

And yet…

 

If there was anyone to talk positions with, it would be-

 

"Oh, hey Keefers. What are you still doing up?"

 

Lance.

 

"Well, from what I’ve learned these past few years, time is a strange and relevant concept, that can be played with and rearranged at will."

 

Lance paused in buttering his space toast. He looked up at Keith, one brow raised.

 

"Did the space whale give you time traveling powers? ’Cause, I’d greatly appreciate if you could use them on this toast, it got kinda burnt since I used the oven."

 

Damn, had he missed Lance.

 

"Sorry to disappoint, I only saw things about my past and future. Even the present, kinda."

 

"Aha! Impossible! Since time is not just a construct and is instead a steady, and measurable moving pace, it would be impossible to see the present, since every second we’re moving to the future, and every present become past! So technically, there is no present!" he said while gesturing wildly, accidentally spilling some of the jam, dropping it on the counter. It fell with a splat.

 

"Aw… five-second rule!" he yelped before licking the jam off with his tongue.

 

Damn, had he missed Lance.

 

Keith did not voice these claims, instead, taking a dish towel and wiping off the jam excess from the counter, chuckling fondly.

 

Lance smiled, "Nice to see you’ve still got a sense of humor in you, Mullet."

 

He looked up at the other boy, who was smirking at him, offering an olive branch to return to their older dynamic.

 

Keith took it. "Nice to see you’re actually being funny for once."

 

Lance gave an overdramatic gasp, "I cannot believe, the audacity of you Keefers, really. Did spending two years on a space whale somehow make you meaner? Actually, don’t answer that, my feelings are hurt enough already" he finished with a fake sniffle.

 

That sentence, however, got Keith’s gut wincing in guilt. "Lance, I’m… sorry for before."

 

Lance blinked his eyes open before looking to Keith as if to say go on…

 

He sighed, "I know the situation was urgent, but… I shouldn’t have just pushed you aside like that. It was rude of me so… I’m sorry."

 

Keith looked up from the counter to stare at Lance, the other boys' eyes had gone slightly wide.

 

"Aww, Keith , you don’t have to apologize for that-"

 

"No, I do. It was completely immature of me. You were just saying Hi, you know, in your own unique, stupid, kinda way."

 

Lance shook his head with a smirk, "Only you can compliment me while insulting me."

 

Keith returned the smile and stepped forward, feeling brave. "Actually, besides that, I wanted to talk to you about something..."

 

Lance took a bite of his toast, "Sure, what’s up?" he mumbled, crumbs spewing everywhere, which Keith generously ignored.

 

"I was wondering if… you wanted me to step out of the Black Lion so Shiro could pilot again. It’s not exactly fair for me to show up out of nowhere and just… take control as I did."

 

Lance frowned and held up a finger before swallowing his toast. “Okay, first of all, Shiro can’t exactly pilot the Black Lion anyway considering Allura literally used his connection with him to fuel the spirit transfer. While doing that, it basically severed all connection. Sure, he can still see Black’s spirit when he presents himself, but he won’t be able to actually pilot again.”

 

Keith opened his mouth to respond, but Lance cut him off with a frown, “AND ANOTHER THING, hold your space horses, Keith. I’m not done yet. Why do you think we let you come back to Black anyway? Hell, why do you think Black let you pilot him in the first place?! We all missed you, buddy. And, sure, it hurt when you left. But we aren’t gonna hold it against you, what kinda friends would we be if we did that?”

 

The other guy blinked in surprise, “We’re… friends?”

 

Lance stared at Keith with and ridiculous expression, “Oh my god, Keith, come here,” he said while walking around the counter to get closer to Keith. When Keith backed away, he held out his arms and advanced faster, “C’ mon man, you can’t escape it. We’re hugging things out, you emo weirdo.”

 

Keith finally paused and let the lanky boy embrace him. It was… nice. Really nice. It felt like being squeezed by an octopus but in a nice… warm… sort of way. It was so distinctly Lance that Keith smiled and returned the hug. He could feel Lance relax in his arms, felt the way his gun-calloused hands massaged his shoulder blades, felt the way his thumb traced smooth circles on his lower back. It was heaven, and Keith melted.

 

“Woah, who knew the resident bad boy loner type is a huge cuddle bug?” Lance said, jokingly. But his voice came out a bit choked, he probably wasn’t expecting Keith to be so okay with this.

 

In response, Keith merely dug his head into the other boy's neck, nuzzling it fondly as he relaxed even more (more than should even be possible).

 

“...Keith? You good man?” Lance asked, worried.

 

Keith sighed into his neck, and whispered, not wanting to break the fuzzy blissful state he was in, “Mhmm, I’m touched starved, just… let me have this.”

 

Lance was silent for a bit, before nodding and squeezing Keith tighter.

 

Damn, had he missed Lance.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

...Five Hours Earlier…

 

“Found anything worth interest yet?”

 

“...Nope! Nothing so far! Sorry!”

 

Allura chuckled under her breath before raising her hands to cup her mouth, “You don’t have to apologize, just keep looking!”

 

There was a moment of silence as the voice carried over before an “Okay!” rang out from the other side of the section. Allura lowered her hands and knelt down beside the bookshelf. Being back in this library without her Father was a little disheartening, but fortunately, she wasn’t completely alone. She actually had another Altean with her, other than Coran! The thought made her giggle a little, still giddy from the discovery. Although it hurt to see Lotor go so abruptly, she was stronger than that. Now that she had Romelle in his place, maybe things wouldn’t be so lonely anymore.

 

She sighed before leaning against the shelf and sitting down. Lotor . That was an iffy subject, it still brought tears to her eyes, her heart panging with sorrow. Although she found a piece of her still belonging to the Galran Prince, her relationship with him had been too good to be true.

 

I should have seen it coming…

 

Eventually, when the tears threaten to spill over, Allura had to lower her head into her lap, trying to muffle the sounds of her quiet sobbing. She didn’t want anyone to see her like this, she needed to be strong for them. All of them. Her brave paladins, her nervous Alteans, her new Galran passenger, and… the space wolf. Her ever carefully crafted mask had been scratched and dented, she couldn’t hide behind it much longer… but I need to be strong. I can’t show my weakness to the Galra, I can’t show my fear. They’ll only use it against me. I must instill confidence in my teammates… my friends… my...

 

Family.

 

She felt a soft hand rest on her knee, along with a bigger paw on her other leg. The thought had paused her sniffling a bit, so she rose her head a little, to look over the edge of her knees. There she saw the White Lion and Romelle, both sitting down in front of her. Romelle gave a tentative smile, and White leaned forward to lick the salty tears from her cheeks.

 

“Are you alright Allura?” Romelle asked, softly.

 

Allura opened her mouth but hesitated at the thought of her voice coming out shaky. She closed it and sniffled, trying to make herself look better.

 

“It’s okay that you aren’t, you know.”

 

She turned her head up, even more, to see Romelle face to face. She must have looked like a mess, red-rimmed eyes, quivering lips, her nose running. Allura knew she was an ugly crier, and this time she doubted would be any different. Romelle took her silence as a chance to speak.

 

“Okay, I mean. It’s okay that you aren’t okay. Does that make sense? I don’t know… I guess what I’m trying to say is that you don’t have to be so strong all the time. You can let your true emotions show, it won’t scare us. If anything, it would be a relief to know that someone as important and powerful as you can suffer through the same kinds of grief and still come out on top. Crying is not a weakness, Allura, and it’s okay that you aren’t feeling your best. We’re all here for you, but if you still aren’t ready to let us see you, then you can use my shoulder to cry on…”

 

That snapped the last bind. With that, the mask came free, showing Allura in all her messy, wet, sobbing, grief. She collapsed forward on Romelle’s shoulder, while the other Altean brought one hand to her hair to run through it slowly and rubbed her other hand up and down her back. Romelle appeared uncaring that Allura was soaking her shirt through with tears. Instead, every so often she would place feather-light kisses on the crown of her head like her mother used to do when she was a child. She sniffled for a bit before gathering enough courage to sit up and face her two friends.

 

“Feeling any better?” Romelle asked quietly, a comforting but concerned smile resting on her face.

 

Allura nodded, and wiped her eyes, she reached up to gather her hair in a bun at the top of her head. “Thank you for that, Romelle. I’m sorry I ruined your shirt…”

 

Romelle shook her head, her twin pigtails swishing around her shoulders, one significantly dampened. “It’s not a big deal, I can always wash it.” She offered a hand to Allura and helped her up. “I do need to tell you something though…” she started.

 

This snapped Allura into attention, “Oh my, I’m so incredibly sorry Romelle. I was so caught up in myself that I completely abandoned our search-!”

 

Romelle cut her off with a finger to her lips, effectively shutting her up. “That doesn’t matter to me, Allura. You were feeling down and had to let some stress out, I get it. What I was trying to say was that I found something that might be of interest to us!”

 

Allura blinked at her, still stunned by the delicate finger that was resting on her lips, Romelle’s brows furrowed for a moment as she ran the pad of her finger along Allura’s lips. “Hmm, your lips are really chapped… you should ask Lance for some chapstick. He said it makes your lips feel silky smooth!” she finished with a bright smile. Then she took Allura’s hand and lead her briskly down the isles, “C’mon, I want to show you what I found! I think you’re really going to like it.”

 

As they turned the corner, Allua suddenly noticed the clearing between the content-heavy bookshelves. It seemed as though they had parted to make way for a single desk that was made of rare wood from Altea. Orian Wood if she recalled correctly. Allura approached the desk slowly, running her fingertips along its edges, and picking up a considerable layer of dust. The wood itself was a cherry brown and had small highlights of reds and pinks within its creases. The centerpiece of the desk was a small golden emblem made of an even rarer Altean metal called Knectis. It held the Royal Altean Crest, and it had a small dent that upon further inspection held King Alfors fingerprint. Or, at least, what she assumed to be.

 

“Soooo…?” Romelle interrupted, slinking over to Allura’s side. “I think something important might be locked in the desk, what about you? Because I already tried the drawers, and they won’t budge.”

 

Allura squinted, still staring at the fingerprint. “I think that’s because the key was in my Father, King Alfor’s fingerprint. It’s welded here in the emblem, see?”

 

The blonde Altean bent down next to Allura to examine the fingerprint. The White Lion came up beside them, and when they spoke, it caused the two females to jump in surprise, “I believe anyone with Royal Altean Blood is able to open this seal, Allura. If you look closely, you can see small pricks in the fingerprint. It’s meant to look impossible to break into while also serving a security purpose. So that anyone who’d gotten a copy of Alfor's fingerprint wouldn’t be able to open it.”

 

She blinked at them, shocked. “Well… alright then. I could try to open it, I suppose.”

 

Romelle nodded excitedly, and took a couple of steps back, along with White. When Allura turned her wide-eyed gaze on them, Romelle smiled nervously, “You know~ just a precaution. Don’t want to get caught up in any traps and whatnot. Good luck though! We’ll be rooting for you!”

 

Allura slumped her shoulders, and looked to White who waved a paw as if to say “ Go on…” She sighed and turned towards the seal, slowly raising her finger to press into the print. Well, White was right about the pricking, she thought while wincing at the sharp tinge of pain she felt sink into her fingertips. Then, to her surprise, the pain subsided, and a small line appeared in the emblem, running right down the center. The seal slowly cracked open, revealing a pedestal that held a significantly worn book, that was accompanied by a couple of visible holo-patches they were commonly used to display vitals or blueprints. The cover had an Image of the Voltron symbol on it in a faintly glowing white.  

 

“What in the quizak is that?” Romelle asked, suddenly beside her.

 

“I’d assume it’s a journal of some kind, maybe a project my father was working on related to Voltron? These holo-patches are commonly used for data storage or diagnostics, but mostly blueprints. I wonder how…” as soon as she tipped the book to the side, the cover fell open. It revealed a piece of browning paper that was creased and folded into a medium sized rectangle. Small enough to fit inside the book cover without sticking out. Romelle picked it up and unfolded it, revealing fancy and very cramped handwriting. Allura immediately recognized it to be her Mothers. She gasped, “That note is in my Mother’s handwriting, what is it doing in here?”

 

White nudged her shoulder, “Do you know what it says?”

 

She gently held a corner of the page so that she and Romelle could both take a look at it. “Hmm… it’s addressed to my Father, so that’s probably why he kept it in here. Oh, wait! I recognize that name, Elipskoi, a planet that my Mother frequented regularly to attend diplomatic meetings. The timestamp reads… yes, this would have been written not too long before my Mother began her annual trip there. That very summer was when my Father began working on constructing Voltron. I suppose he kept this here for good luck.”

 

“What else does it say?” Romelle asked, curious.

 

Allura pursed her lips, “Not much. I really do think it was just meant to be for luck. Otherwise, he would have placed some more tight-knit security around it. See, look here, she even wrote out Good Luck with your exciting new project, I hope to learn all about it when I return.”

 

White purred softly, “Why don’t we look through the book then? Maybe it can tell us some useful information about Voltron.”

 

She raised her eyebrows, “More than we already know?”

 

“Think of it this way, you already didn’t know about this book’s existence. Nor of this letter, there could be so much more merely written between these pages.”

 

Romelles eyes practically sparkled with curiosity, “Let’s look through it then!” she said as she grabbed the book and placed it down on the floor, laying down in front of it and flipping through a few pages.

 

Allura gasped, “Careful with that! It’s practically an antique!”

 

The other girl blew a raspberry, “ You’re an antique!”

 

White chuckled, “She’s not wrong there.”

 

“Quiet, you. Fine, let’s have a look.”

Chapter Text

 

“Well… I think it’s safe to say that Voltron’s secrets are pretty secure,” Romelle said lightly.

 

Allura groaned and thumped her head silently on the journal. “We’re never going to find anything useful here…”

 

“Or legible,” White added.

 

Her father, as it turns out, depended heavily on Coran and Melenor for note-taking, letter writing, etc. Otherwise, all his notes would be typed out. The only time Allura had seen her Father actually handwrite something was to forge a signature and of course, those weren’t required to be neat.

 

 

She realized now, that the reason for this odd tactic was because her Father’s handwriting was so incredibly atrocious, that it looked like a child had gotten its hands on a crayon and had merely scribbled across the page. White was correct, they certainly wouldn’t be able to find anything legible in here.

 

“I could ask Pidge for a translator, but I don’t think her datapad is equipped to translate chicken scratch,” said Allura, her head now risen from the pages, staring at them harshly. “Honestly, I love my Father, but I cannot forgive this. I’m glad I inherited my Mother’s handwriting capabilities.”

 

White nodded solemnly, “At the very least there are detailed diagrams included that have typed information rather than written.”

 

“Yeah,” Romelle piped up, “Like, look at this one! It proposes the idea of an entire other Lion! Isn’t that cool? And by the looks of things, it’s almost as if he’d already started construction!”

 

Allura froze. “Hold on a tick,” she said before inspecting the writing. “Romelle, those aren’t suggestions, those are legitimate plans! My father has actually built this Lion!”

 

Romelle stayed gaping at her before squinting down at the journal, “Are you sure?”

 

“Absolutely, have a look! It includes them right here! Oh, this is so exciting, a whole other Lion! I cannot believe it!”

 

“Which begs the question,” White started, “Why wasn’t it in the hangars with the rest of the Lions?”

 

Allura’s face fell into a more questioning one, “Oh, you’re right, good point. Ah, let’s see…”

 

The blonde Altean tapped her chin, “You know It would have been way more efficient to have all this information stored in some kinda vlogging type ordeal, don’t you think?”

 

Allura smiled, “Yes, I suppose so. But on the bright side, at least nobody will be able to copy Voltron word-for-word now!”

 

White nodded, “Only picture-by-picture. And that’s after they get through all the security.”  

 

Romelle shivered, “Don’t put any ideas into my mind, now I’m going to be overthinking all the possible ways this information could end up in the wrong hands for the rest of the afternoon!”

 

White shrugged, looking vaguely sympathetic, “Sorry.”

 

“Oh! Come look at this!” Allura announced, to which the other two responded by squishing in beside her, cheek-to-cheek. “Ah… too close, can’t breathe.” The others let up, scooching back a bit. “That’s better, now look.”

 

“This is a map of the castle, according to these starting coordinates, the place we are right now should be the library. I’d assume approximately around where the desk is placed. This little white dot over here is near my parent’s quarters. I don’t visit that place very much, but I don’t remember there ever being a room that’s going off of this hallway… We should check it out! Who knows, maybe my Father housed a lab there of some sort where he did primary construction on the White Lion!” Allura explained.

 

“Worth a shot,” Romelle said, shrugging.

 

“I wonder what would happen if Voltron formed with the White Lion? Where do you think it was supposed to go?” White asked as Allura began detaching the map from the journal.

 

“I’m not sure, I’ve only seen Voltron form about twice. Maybe the wings?” said Romelle.

 

“Voltron’s already got wings,” Allura responded, gently tugging on the sleeve of the patch.

 

“Hmm… maybe some kind of armor then?”

 

“That would be cool, but kind of unnecessary, don’t you think? I mean, Voltron’s already very protected.” White wondered.

 

“Well there’s no use musing about it now, we don’t even know if it still exists!” Allura said, getting up to look around in Alfor’s desk for a screwdriver.

 

Romelle pouted, “I guess not…” Then she tugged on the holo-patch, trying her hardest not to tear them.

 

“Hold on, I’ve got it. I remember how these things work now, you just have to-” There was a satisfying click before the patch came loose, “-press on the knob. Aha! There we go, let’s put this book back where it belongs.”

 

When they had safely returned the journal, Allura opened the holo-patch, which was now a holo- map. “Alright, we’ll start by walking over to my parent’s quarters.”

 

“Oh, this is so exciting!” Romelle cheered, “It’s like our own little treasure hunt! We could call it, Alteans and the Search for the White Lion, doesn’t that sound cool?”

 

She continued to ramble as they left the library and followed the map down one of the hallways, “We should have a group name! Like the scavengers or lost treasure finders !”

 

“Lost treasure finders? I don’t think it’s very lost if we have a map towards it, and besides, it was never missing in the first place. We only learned of its existence right now.” White remarked.

 

Romelle pouted, “Oh… I guess so,” she perked up again, “But that doesn’t mean we still can’t give out little group a name? What do you say, Allura?”

 

Allura startled from where she was concentrated on the map, “Oh? Uhh… I don’t know. How about the Oriande Avengers ?”

 

The blonde Altean gave a sunny grin, “I like that! White, how about you? All in favour of The Oriande Avengers ?”

 

Whites snout wrinkled as they frowned, “That sounds like a superhero team name.”

 

Romelle pouted again, her eyebrows furrowed, “Well who’s to say we aren’t superheroes? We’re saving Oriande, aren’t we? That makes us pretty darn super in my book!”

 

“Alright then. All in favour of naming our little group The Oriande Avengers say ‘I’,” Allura said.

 

“I!” Romelle cheered.

 

“I,” spoke a reluctant White.

 

“I,” Allura finished with a smile. “And by the way, we’re here.”

 

The hallway ended at a door, typical to the ones stationed elsewhere in the castle. As Allura approached, it stayed stationary, a dark pink light being emitted from the pad next to the doors.

 

“Locked,” stated Allura. “I’ll try a couple of password combinations, otherwise we might need to ask Pidge to override the doors.”

 

“What? But then it wouldn’t be The Oriande Avengers anymore, it would be The Oriande Avengers and Pidge!” Romelle complained.

 

Allura grumbled from where she was attempting to guess Alfor’s password, White approached her, “Here, let me try.”

 

“Can you even type with your paws-” Allura cut off her sentence as White’s paw began to glow and shocked the data pad into darkness. The doors opened abruptly and didn’t close.

 

“I overloaded my quintessence into it, it wasn’t able to handle that much energy and so it’s circuits fried,” White explained. “Let’s go in.”

 

Allura nodded slowly, still in shock. Romelle, however, merely skipped into the room, happy that they didn’t need to ask for anyone else’s help. “Hurrah! The Oriande Avengers prevail!”

 

They stepped into the dark room, which was formatted liken to Allura’s. The large bed was covered in a considerable layer of dust that sat undisturbed. The room was very neat and tidy, but despite that, it still looked lived in. Her Father’s inventions were strewn across his desk, and her Mother’s books and jewelry were scattered across the vanity and side tables. A glass sat beside her Father’s table, upon further inspection, moldy water was found inside. Allura winced and grabbed the cup, heading to the bathroom. She promptly dumped it out into the sink. The air freshener wasn’t running anymore, but the scent of Juniberries still lingered in the air.

 

“Allura,” Romelle called softly, causing Allura to flinch and spin towards her. “Are you alright?”

 

The princess stared at the ground for a moment, composing herself, “Yes, I’m fine now, thank you. Let’s continue.” She straightened her spine and picked up the holo-map from where it was resting on the side table, “According to the map, the lab should have an access point from somewhere in this room.”

 

“Any ideas where specifically?” White asked, looking at themselves in the small mirror on the vanity, curiously.

 

Allura sighed, “Not remotely. Originally I believed it to be stationed next to the bedroom in the hallway, but I didn’t see any doors, nor any outlines to indicate one.”

 

“Let’s check the bookshelf,” Romelle suggested, “There’s bound to be a secret room hidden behind there. My family had one back at my house, although it was just used for storage.”

 

They approached the bookshelf and flipped a couple of books around, Allura was hesitant to move anything, wanting to keep the room as it was before they entered to respect her parents, but the more she looked, the more she found herself thinking.

 

Perhaps my father intended to have someone find this, maybe even me!? Surely he wouldn’t want something like this to be hidden away forever. The Lions are meant to defend the universe as a whole unit, it cannot be whole if a fraction is missing. We must find it.

 

Suddenly, Allura spotted a peculiar looking book to the right of her. Romelle and White hadn’t seemed to have found it yet, so she inspected it.

 

“Hold on,” she said. The other two stopped abruptly.

 

“Found something?” Romelle asked, coming to look over Allura’s shoulder. Shockingly, Allura found herself comfortable with the presence of the other Altean, instead of flustered like before.

 

“I believe so, look at the title of this book.” Romelle squinted and read out, “‘The Mechanics of Cognitive Engineering.’ Alright, what does that mean?”

 

“It’s not so much as what it means, it’s where I found it. Remember what I told you in the library about my Father’s organization?”

 

“Yeeesss? You said that he organizes based on subject and then alphabetically, right?”

 

“Exactly!” Allura cheered. “I found this book right in between the titles ‘The Lore of Azka’ and ‘Sand, Sea, and Salvation’. Both of those titles are alphabetically sorted, but not-”

 

“By subject!” Romelle piped up.

 

Allura turned her head and smiled at her, “That’s right! These two books belong in the geography section since they’re both about land and history. However this book…” she trailed off.

 

“...Goes in the mechanics' section?” Romelle answered.

 

Allura nodded and passed Romelle the book, the blonde Altean considered it for a while before ordering it in the proper section. They heard a loud clunk and the bookshelf opened slightly.

 

“We did it! We found the lab! Let’s go, let’s go!” Romelle cheered, grabbing Allura’s hand and rushing past the open bookshelf and into the darker room.

 

White followed after them as Allura felt around the walls for a switch. When she finally found it, she flicked it up, hearing a gentle hum which indicated the start of the backup generator. Soon, one by one, the lights turned on. Revealing a huge open lab and an even bigger White Mechanical Lion hooked up to multiple cables and stationed behind a protective barrier that was identical to the ones the other Lions put up when they weren’t in use.

 

“The White Lion! We found it, we found it!” Romelle cheered, jumping up and down, holding Allura’s hands.

 

Allura was so caught up in the happiness and adrenaline of the moment that she turned towards Romelle and swiftly placed a quick kiss on her cheek. The other Altean stopped jumping, her mouth agape with an adorable rosy blush flushing her pale cheeks.

 

“What was that?” She asked, curious.

 

Allura smiled, her teeth contrasting beautifully with her rich chocolate skin, “I was just excited is all, and you’re very cute.”

 

Romelle’s smile widened as her Altean marks began to glow, her blushing never ceasing.

 

The soft moment was broken as White cleared their throat behind them, “As touching as this is, and we’re definitely talking about it later,” they spoke, sending a significant look towards Allura, “We still have to figure out who’s piloting this Lion.”

  

“Hmm, why don’t we see what we can gather from the control panel?” Romelle suggested.

 

Allura nodded, and reluctantly let go of the other's hands, walking forward towards the control panel. She rested her hand on it and it lit up, displaying a folder that contained multiple video files. They were all dated back 10,000 deca-phoebe's ago. “Aha! So this is where the vlogs were stored,” Allura said, choosing the most recent one and expanding it until they could all see it.

 

 

 

“Quintant 105, Subject WL006. I have run into some complications with the newest Subject,” the recording spoke, displaying a video feed of King Alfor, in all of his regal glory.

“I have discovered that the energy required to officially power WL006 is unavailable as of the current period. Until I manage to find another comet, or an energy source equivalent to that of the comet that is able to sustain sentience, WL006 will be offline for the time being.” Alfor ran a hand through his frazzled white hair and stared back into the camera with tired eyes.

“If I’m being honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to finish it. The comet was believed to be one-of-a-kind. I don’t see the probabilities of us coming across another one anytime soon to be very high. So this is what I’ve decided to do.”

Alfor took a deep breath, closing his eyes before speaking again, “I’ve decided to halt all progress with the newest Project until we can find an accurate power source. Meanwhile, I will alter the fusion components of the completed Lions so that Voltron can still be formed even as an incomplete. I’ll try and adjust them to accommodate the White Lion when it is complete, but until then they will still be able to function without it.”

The older Altean ran a hand over his face repeatedly, “I’m sorry Melenor, I wanted you to join us. I know how exciting this would have been for you. The prospect of fighting to defend the universe alongside each other is extremely exciting, but unfortunately I can not-” he cut himself off with a sigh. “I just- I’m sorry. This will be my last entry. Get home soon, love. Allura and I will be waiting,” he shot the camera a tired smile before reaching over to shut it down.

 

The trio sat in silence for a bit before Allura closed her eyes. A few tears ran down her cheeks as she remembered the day that her Mother never returned from her meeting. Shortly thereafter, the Galra had stationed an attack. The vlog was dated a couple of days after she was scheduled to return. Romelle grabbed her shoulders and pulled her in for a hug, arms wrapping tightly around her as Allura weakly sobbed into her shoulder once more.

 

“I’m sorry, Allura. You didn’t deserve that. Nobody does. You are very strong for picking yourself up and continuing on even after these tragic events. I sincerely admire you for that,” Romelle whispered to her as another solid weight leaned against her back, Whites nose and mane rubbing comfortingly against her as they all fell to the ground with Allura sobbing.

 

She looked up, her eyes red-rimmed and brimming with fresh tears, “I really must get you a new shirt, I’ve most certainly ruined it at this rate,” she spoke shakily.

 

Romelle merely smiled softly, “Alright, Princess, just make sure to get me something sparkly.”

 

That sent Allura into a fit of giggles as they all stood up slowly, Romelle wiping Allura’s damp cheeks with the fabric of her sleeve.

 

“Alright, enough of that. Let’s try to get the Lion free and flying,” Allura said, her voice considerably stronger than a moment ago.

 

Romelle nodded and looked back over to the vlog, “Alfor mentioned that he only needed a power source that was powerful enough to sustain sentience, yes?” When Allura nodded, Romelle lit up, “Then why not use White?!”

 

Allura blinked for a moment, considering it before speaking, “That could… actually work! Great thinking, Romelle!” she exclaimed, turning to White, “Would you be willing to do it?”

 

White hummed in consideration for a tick, “To be a part of and fly alongside the Legendary Defender of the Universe?” They looked to Allura with a slight smile, “It would be my honor, Princess.”

 

Romelle squealed in excitement, jumping up and down, “Oh this is so cool! I get to see a new Lion of Voltron being born! I can hardly wait!”

 

Allura smiled at her before walking over to the control panel, “Alright, White. I’m bringing down the barrier,” she announced before dragging her finger down a switch. The barrier around the White Lion dimmed and eventually faded completely.

 

White began to glow suddenly, starting off dim, then growing brighter and brighter. Then White began running right towards the Lion, roaring loudly as it entered the metal exterior abruptly. The sheer power behind the roar knocked both of the Alteans off their feet, feeling as though they had just been hit by a strong gust of wind. Then, the panel began flashing red, and the lights around them flickered wildly. The gusts of wind were getting stronger still, keeping the girls pinned down under the unrelenting forceful current.

 

“IT’S TOO MUCH!” Allura yelled out to be heard over the rushing winds. “THE LION CAN’T TAKE THIS MUCH POWER, WE HAVE TO FIND SOME WAY TO ABSORB IT! THAT WAY, MAYBE WE’LL BE ABLE TO STABILIZE THE CONNECTION!”

 

Romelle nodded solemnly before shakily getting to her knees, her Altean marks glowed brightly as she approached the overflowing Lion. Allura’s eyes widened, “ROMELLE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET AWAY FROM THERE, YOU’LL HURT YOURSELF!”

 

The blonde Altean didn’t cease in her journey, instead adjusting her weight with her chameleon-like abilities to relent against the force of the wind and pushing further towards the Lion. Then, she placed her hands on the base of the Lion, her marks glowing brighter than ever. She turned back to look at Allura, calling out “CLOSE THE PARTICLE BARRIER” Allura could only nod as she wobbled towards the panel, the winds getting harsher as she did. She took one last look at Romelle to find the other Altean looking at her with a smile.

 

“See you soon,” Romelle said, her voice at normal volume but somehow reaching Allura’s ears. She snapped back to the panel and hurriedly closed the particle barrier. As soon as it materialized, the winds abruptly stopped, and a harsh light emitted from inside the dome. Allura looked around to see the workshop in various states of disarray. She momentarily felt ashamed for disturbing the tidiness of her Father’s workstation before the glare of light ceased and her focus snapped back to the situation at hand.

 

“Romelle!” she called out, quickly pulling the barrier up again. She rushed towards the Lion, just in time to see Romelle crumple to the ground, her markings still glowing brightly. Allura kneeled by her side, noticing how the marks faded into normal. She propped Romelle up in her lap, feeling a pair of eyes on her from above. “Romelle?” she asked tentatively.

 

The blonde Altean coughed for a moment before opening her eyes weakly, “A-Allura?” she whispered, voice hoarse. “Did I do it?”

 

Allura could have cried with relief, “Yes, you did it Romelle.” she whispered and smiled warmly.

 

Romelle’s answering grin was a little shaky but still bright as the two of them brought their lips together in a chaste kiss. Allura sighed into it, full of relief that the other girl was alright, Romelle was also relieved that she was able to continue being by the other girls' side. Hopefully for as long as they lived.

 

They broke apart to smile again, so thankful that the other was alright before connecting again. Their Altean markings glowing together.

 

Chosen. White thought. They have been chosen by each other for another, the true Mark of the Chosen.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

When everyone gathered together on the bridge, they could immediately sense the aura of change that rested in the air. Allura held Romelle’s hand tightly in her own, now dressed in her pink Paladin armor.

 

“Paladins,” she spoke up, “We have accomplished great things over the short period of time, and I believe we are ready to defend Oriande. But first, I must tell you about something we have discovered.” She looked to Romelle who was beside her. When the other girl gave her a curt nod, she continued. “We have discovered the existence of another Lion, the White Lion,” she continued past the sudden gasps that came from her teammates, “White has given their spirit up to fuel it, and as it stands it is currently functioning.”

 

She took a deep breath before speaking again, “I will pilot the White Lion. My Father, King Alfor, built Voltron with the ability to function without the White Lion, but to accommodate it once it was whole. Since he could not find a power source fit to sustain sentience in the Lion, he had put the project on hold, and eventually abandoned it. I believe we can use this new component of Voltron to defeat Haggar and drive her Druids out of Oriande for good.”

 

She clasped her hands together, letting go of Romelle’s and stepping forward, “Are there any questions?”

 

“Yeah,” spoke Pidge, “Who will pilot the Blue Lion?”

 

Shiro furrowed his brows before stepping forward, “I will.” He then turned to Blue, “That is- if you’ll let me?”

 

Blue stood still for a moment. “I will need a moment to consider. Lions, let’s talk for a moment. I think we have some introductions to make.”

 

With that, the rest of the Lions gathered together and turned towards the Paladins. “We will not be gone long,” Black said, “We will be back as soon as we have made our decision.” He turned to address Allura, “I suggest setting a course for Oriande for the time being. We will try and make out meeting quick.” With that, all the Lions disappeared in a flash of light, leaving with the echoing sounds of roaring lions.

 

“Ah, Black. Always one for dramatics,” Keith mused, making Lance crack up to which he smiled at.

 

Shiro rolled his eyes, “Let’s keep the flirting to a minimum, please,” he sighed, ignoring the embarrassing squawks from the aforementioned Paladins. “Besides, we have another person’s relationship to question…” he trailed off, looking to Romelle and Allura who blushed under the sudden scrutiny.

 

“Oh boy. Looks like I’m meeting the family once again,” Romelle squeaked.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

ミ☆Hello?☆

 

Hello, White. I do not think we have been formally introduced. I am the Black Lion of Voltron.★

 

Hi there! I’m Yellow! We’ve already met before though.✧

 

★Wait, what?★

 

✫Oh yeah, us too.✫

 

★Excuse me?★

 

So have I. I was with Blue when we met.✭

 

I saw you outside where we were building the security cameras, right?✲

 

☆Ah, yes. I remember that.☆

 

★Okay. Am I the only one who has not gotten to meet White yet?★

 

Yep!✧

 

✫I think so…✫

 

✭Pretty much.✭

 

✲...Yeah, sorry.✲

 

★Great.★

 

☆Well, if it’s any consolation, your teammates are very nice?☆

 

Aww, thanks, White!✧

 

★Stop it.★

 

Aw, ok.✧

 

✭Hey, don’t take it out on Yellow that you haven’t met White yet, Black.✭

 

✫Red!✫

 

✭What?! I’m just being honest!!✭

 

✲Red’s right, Black. Apologize to Yellow.✲

 

★Fine. Yellow?★

 

...Yes? :’(✧

 

★How did you- actually nevermind. I apologize for snapping at you. That was uncalled for, sorry.★

 

I forgive you. :)✧

 

★Okay, now I need to know how you are doing that-★

 

☆This is very endearing and all, but can we get back to the subject at hand?☆



✫Or should you say… at PAW!✫

 

✲Nice one, Blue!✲

 

✫Thanks! Lance has been teaching me a few things. He calls them “puns” isn’t that adorable?✫

 

✭Totally.✭

 

I can't tell if you are being serious, Red.✧

 

✭Oh, I am. I don’t joke when it comes to Lance. He’s very important to me.✭

 

★LIONS, FOCUS!★

 

☆LIONS, FOCUS!☆

 

★… Oh.★

 

☆Ah, I see. We both have the same things in mind then.☆

 

★Back on topic. Do you have any suggestions as to what we do about the new Paladin?★

 

☆Actually, yes, I do.☆

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Two years ago, Keith would have thought the Black Paladin’s armor looked out of place on him. Now though…

 

He stared at his reflection, with it staring right back at him. The Black suit framed his filled-out shoulders. Making him look more mature if anything. His hair curled loosely around his collar, then he flicked a small switch on the inside of the collar. The previously Blue accents flickered, then changed into Red, bringing out the scarred tissue on his right cheek.

 

He looked…

 

Older… Cooler…

 

Grizzled.

 

He chuckled to himself, then found his attention drawn to the sound of the door opening. In the hallway, he spotted Paladin armor with bright red accents that used to belong to him. His smile grew.

 

“Hey, Lance. Come to talk about math again?” he asked, his voice holding a teasing lilt.

 

Lance smirked, but his eyes held genuine emotion as he looked Keith over with his sharp gaze. Keith barely suppressed a shiver as he felt those piercing blue eyes drag over him. Lance whistled low and clicked his tongue, now that made Keith shiver.

 

“I have to admit,” he began, smirk evident in his tone, “That’s a nice look on you Samari.”

 

Keith turned to face him and found himself doing the same as Lance, appreciating how nice it looked to have his colour on the other boy. It was a selfish thought, but Keith allowed it.

 

“Same goes for you, I suppose.”

 

Lance hummed and walked up to him, running his hands on the glowing accents of his collar. “Hey, how’d you do that?”

 

Keith looked down in attempts to get his mind over the short distance between the two of them. It would be so easy to lean over…

 

He let that thought trail off as he lifted his hands towards the other’s collar, “It’s just a small switch, may I?” he asked, and Lance nodded. He set his hands down on the shoulders of the other boy, feeling around on the inside of the collar until he heard the faint click of the switch. Lance’s accents began to glow red.

 

“Cool,” he whispered. His breath fanning over Keith’s face in a warm huff.

 

“Yeah,” Keith answered, at a loss for words and still not looking the other boy in the eyes for fear of drowning in their swirling blue depths.

 

Lance hummed again, “Not much of a purpose changing them though, considering I’m the Red Paladin now. I think I’ll just keep them as Blue.”

 

Keith clicked the switch back into place, resetting the colour back to the default. “Cool,” he spoke softly, mimicking the other.

 

Lance exhaled, looking at Keith with half-lidded eyes, “Yeah.”   

 

They stood there for a moment, just looking at each other softly until Lance chuckled breathily, “You going to kiss me or what, Mullet?”

 

Keith felt a hot flush rush to his face as Lance smiles cheekily, “S-Shut up,” he stuttered.

 

Lance leaned impossibly closer, only a hairs distance away from Keith. “Make me,” he whispered on the other boys' lips, and well, Keith was never able to back down from a challenge Lance issued, was he?

 

He rushed forward, causing Lance to make a small sound in surprise at the eagerness Keith displayed. Normally he’d curse himself for looking so desperate but it had been two years since he’d seen this idiot, and damn if he was going to let this moment slip through his fingers.  

 

Eventually, they’d settled into a steady pace, Lance was doing this amazing this with his jaw that made Keith believe he had some experience, which sent a white flush of jealousy through him at the thought of anyone but him being able to kiss this beautiful boy and letting him go. It was a possessive thought but at this point, he didn’t care, as he wrapped his arms around Lance’s waist and pulled him closer still because after all this time he still couldn’t let him go.

 

He pulled away, only to place small butterfly kisses across Lance’s face as the tan boy giggled in delight.

 

“I’ve,” a kiss to his cheek, “been wanting,” a kiss to his other cheek, “to do this,” a kiss to the crown of his head, “since,” a kiss to his nose, “the bonding moment,” kiss, kiss, kiss.

 

Lance giggled and practically had to pry Keith away from where he was pressing light kisses to his throat, “Keith, Keith, stop for a second. The bonding moment? ” he teased, making Keith groan.

 

“I know you don’t remember it, but I really thought things would change between us then-” Lance cut him off with a swift kiss to the lips, and pulled away just as Keith wanted to relax into it.

 

“Keith, I do remember the bonding moment,” he said, smiling so that his eyes crinkled at the corners.

 

Keith blinked and spoke hoarsely, “What?”

 

Lance snickered, “I’m telling you that I remember the bonding moment, Keefers. I just… wasn’t ready to accept the fact that I could have a crush on a guy. Really strange time to be me honestly.”

 

“So… what about now?”

 

“What about now?”

 

Keith cleared his throat, “Do you… do you still think you aren’t ready to accept a crush on a guy... a crush on me?

 

Lance looked at Keith blankly, which was doing wonders for Keith’s anxiety, “Keith. Keef. Keefers. Keitharoonie. My man, I’m telling you now. I would not have just made out with you if I wasn’t sure.”

 

“Are you sure that was making out? ‘Cause I-”

 

“Oh my gosh, just shut up and kiss me again, Mullet.”

 

“Can do.”

 

And so he did.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Shiro was sitting in his old spot on the deck, looking down at the footage they’d received from the security cameras. He sighed heavily and gave up trying to understand the intervals of time which Lance was flying across the screen. He leaned back, staring out into space and allowing himself to dwell on what he’d just gotten himself into.

 

Flying the Blue Lion.

 

Being a part of Voltron again.

 

He wasn’t going to lie, he missed Voltron. He missed the connection he felt with the other Paladins, the way he felt their emotions through the bond they shared. He missed the silence post-battle when they were all weary from adrenaline and anxiety and just hung around in the common room, enjoying each others company but being too tired to speak. He missed the rush of excitement he felt whenever they formed Voltron, whenever a plan worked, whenever they pulled off a new move. It was thrilling and what Shiro wouldn’t give to experience it again and again.

 

Flying the Black Lion was terrifying. It was a rush of power, the controls responding quickly and more fluidly than anything he’d ever flown at the Garrison. The bond he would feel humming in the back of his mind, comforting him, encouraging him, just feeling with him. It was like having two people in his mind at once, very confusing but it was always a relief to hear Blacks deep purrs which sent a wave of calm over his mind.

 

It broke his heart that he would never be able to feel it again, so he volunteered to take Allura’s position as Blue Paladin, just so he could feel that unique kind of connection again, or at least, something akin to it.

 

He turned his head to the side when he heard someone enter. It was Allura, and she had a sorrowful look on her face as she approached him. Shiro quickly rose and walked over to her to offer his comfort, finding that maybe, maybe if he could reassure her, it would make him feel better as well.

 

“Allura,” he spoke, “Is everything alright?”

 

She turned her head up, brows pinched, “...Yes, actually. I believe everything will work out alright.”

 

Shiro wasn’t going to attempt to unpack all of that, the deeper meaning hiding behind that sentence and her expression evading him, diving past his understanding. Still, he could try to offer her some kind of comfort, though he could guess what this was about.

 

“Is this about me piloting Blue?” he asked carefully, looking for any changes on her face. She shook her head, paused, then nodded.

 

“Sort of,” she said, “I should- I need to show you something. If you don’t mind. Come with me.”

 

Shiro nodded and followed her down the white hallways of the castle, passing by the rest of the resident's rooms, eventually passing his own, then even Allura’s. “Allura,” he started, “Where are you taking me, if you don’t mind me asking.”

 

Allura turned her head to the side and smiled back at him, all sorrow from her expression now retreated, “You’ll see~” she sang, before picking up her pace and rushing towards an open set of doors that Shiro hadn’t seen before.

 

“Were these always open?” he asked as they entered the dark bedroom. It was covered in a significant layer of dust, with the exception of a couple fingerprints and footprints, and were those paws?

 

Allura hummed, approaching a bookshelf, “Not always, White fried the circuits so we could get in, they won’t be able to close until we fix them.”

 

Shiro mentally connected the dots and figured that White, the newest Lion to be introduced, had been the one to fry the circuits. How they did so, he didn’t really want to know. He stood beside the Princess as she skimmed the bookshelf with one finger and rearranged the books. Shiro opened his mouth to question her when suddenly he heard a faint clunk and saw the bookshelf open to reveal a secret room. The light that came from it contrasted greatly from the darkness inside the bedroom, Allura passed through the threshold in front of him, and he followed her carefully.

 

“What is- Oh quiznak,” Shiro’s eyes landed on the huge White Lion that was sitting inside a particle barrier. In front of the console, he could spot the same White Lion, in spirit form, sitting down, appearing to be waiting for them.

 

“This is…?” trailed off as Allura nodded eagerly and practically dragged him towards White.

 

“Hello, Shiro,” they spoke suddenly, standing up to approach him. At full height, they were nearly as tall as Allura, no doubt taller than the rest of the Lions. They carried a calm aura, but radiated power.

 

“Hi,” he breathed out after a while.

 

“Shiro, I’m going to be blunt with you. I choose you to pilot the White Lion,” White explained.

 

He sputtered, “What? But, I thought Allura was supposed to be your pilot!”

 

“Shiro,” Allura said kindly, “It was never really my decision in the first place whether or not I should pilot White. This kind of decision is a mutual thing, not one-sided. If White believes you are a capable pilot for them, then who am I to stand in the way of that.” She sighed before continuing, “I won’t lie to you, I’m a little upset that I won’t get to pilot White, but I’ve thought about it and… it’s a good decision. White chose you because of your heart, you look out for others and place their priorities over yours. You are a truly selfless man, Shiro, and I think White sees that too. I’m not ready to pilot White… I’ve still got a lot more room to learn and grow, and so do you. But, hopefully, you can at least do so together, ” she finished with a smile, holding out a helmet that was adorned with pure white decals, the lights were adjusted to turn black, white contrasted beautifully, making it resemble a Yin-Yang.

 

“So, how does that sound, Guardian of Light?” White asked as the barrier flickered down.

 

Shiro tentatively reached for the helmet and placed it on his head. “I think that sounds great,” he answered finally, a wide smile stretched across his face.

 

As he sat down in the cockpit, he relaxed into the controls and felt White’s new connection with him humming in the back of his mind.

 

“It’s good to be back,” he whispered and heard an answering purr of agreement.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

As the Paladins prepared for battle, Hunk brought up an important question.

 

“Wait, are we just flying all the way over to Oriande, or are we opening a wormhole?”

 

They all paused and looked to Allura, who was looking at Romelle.

 

“Er-well…” Romelle began, “Allura seems to think that the access energy I absorbed from the White Lion would be enough for me to open a wormhole myself while Allura pilots the Lions with the rest of you.”

 

They all blinked at her confession and looked around at each other, until finally, Keith spoke up.

 

“I guess it couldn’t hurt to try-” Lance cut him off with a snort, which caused him to raise an eyebrow.

 

“You guess? Babe, the White Lion is mega powerful, I think if any single one of us even absorbed a pinky fingers worth of that energy, we’d be going all Mario Star Mode on the Galra. So imagine what Romelle could do with a whole bunch of that stuff.”

 

The explanation needed some work, and the ‘babe’ had caught everyone’s attention briefly, but it still managed to make sense. A faint finally could be heard from Pidge as Hunk snickered beside her.

 

“Alright then, we’ll give it a shot,” Keith said after a while. With that, all six Paladins hurried off to their hangars, new armor suited up on four of them. Once they got seated in their Lions, they witnessed a turquoise wormhole open in front of them, a little smaller than Allura’s but big enough to fit all six Lions and the Castleship inside.

 

When they popped out the other end, they found themselves staring directly into the White Hole.

 

“Great job, Romelle!” Allura cheered over the comms. There were various other exclamations of praise from the other Paladins before Keith cleared his throat and they eventually all went silent.

 

“Okay, listen up, team. Our objective is to drive Haggar and the Druids out of Oriande, as soon as you have visual, lead them away from the temple. Allura, Hunk, and Pidge, you will be assigned to the Druids, Romelle and Coran will assist you from the Castle. Lance, Shiro, you guys are with me, let’s get the witch out of here. Stay apart for now to cover more ground, we only need to form Voltron if things get tight. Got it?

 

“Right!” confirmed the rest of the team.

 

“Okay,” Keith nodded as the White Hole began to open up to reveal Oriande, “Let’s go!”

 

The team pushed their thrusters into full throttle, Lance and Shiro shooting ahead of the group, with Keith following not far behind.

 

“Keith,” a voice sounded suddenly from beside him, and he knew without turning that it was Black. “The rest of the Lions and I will assist you the best we can from the ground. You will still be able to pilot, you might just lose a bit of energy. Good luck.” With that, he disappeared, reappearing on the ground near the temple’s entrance. He was quickly joined by the rest of the Lions, all of them prepared to chase off any Druids that so much as approached.

 

“Keith, I’ve got visuals on Haggar, she’s on the roof of the temple,” Lance called out, and as soon as he did, a flash of purple lightning lit up the sky, shooting towards Yellow.

 

“Wo-hoah, that was a close one!” Hunk shouted, grunting as he narrowly dodged.

 

“Good eye, Lance. Let’s get her out of here,” said Keith, as he pushed towards the temple. Lance veers off to the left as he spots another Druid.

 

“That makes four! Keith, I’m going to provide backup to the others!” Lance yelled.

 

Keith grit his teeth, Haggar wasn’t even giving him a chance to collect himself as she fired off attack after attack, “That’s fine, Shiro and I will keep her occupied!”

 

The battle waged on as various grunts and brief yells came from the comms, Keith momentarily considered muting them in order to concentrate but ruled it out immediately, because he was supposed to be able to contact them in case of emergency. Which, if things continue as they were now, would no doubt happen soon.  

“Aha, gotcha! That’s one down, thanks for the cover fire, Romelle!” Pidge cheered, sending Keith a wave of relief from their shared bond.

 

“Good job, Pidge. Keep it up,” he answered before focusing back on looking for an opening to attack Haggar. It was hard when she deflected every attack he had nearly as soon as he fired it. He was afraid to get closer, lest he is subjected to a painful lighting attack or accidentally hit and ruin the temple. He doubted that White would be very happy about that, even if he couldn't control it.

 

Keith tried to tune out the grunts of exhaustion from his teammates as he hyper-focused on looking for an opening in Haggar’s defense. Easier said than done, as she covered her bases well-

 

Wait, that’s it!

 

Sending a mental apology to White, Keith fired off a direct attack to the roof of the temple, the aged stone immediately crumpling upon impact, knocking Haggar off-balance. Keith and Shiro wasted no time in barraging her with attacks, getting a sense of hope as she blocked them more clumsily that before. Eventually, she would slip, and they would be able to hit her.

 

Sure enough, one of Haggar’s lightning attacks missed, which meant a beam of energy hit her straight in the torso, sending her spiraling off the short ledge she had perched herself on when the roof collapsed.  

 

He cheered briefly, hearing Shiro do the same. Then, the older man was speaking, “Great job, Keith. Although, this still won’t get you out of trouble with White. They aren’t very pleased about the condition of their temple, understandably,” he teased.

 

Keith groaned, and flew upwards, preparing himself for when the Witch eventually recovered, “I know, I know, I’ll apologize later,” he finished, right as he witnessed Haggar emerge from the rubble, lightning crackling around her, “Right now, we’ve got a bitch to deal with.”

 

“Language,” he heard Shiro mumble before he jerked his controls to the left to avoid the purple energy. She looked furious, her hood had fallen down and her white hair raised and swirling around her head like a living creature. She snarled before recalling the Druids to her side, effectively getting all of Voltron in the same place. Then, they all attacked at once, the Druids and Haggar launching relentless purple lightning strikes while the Lions fired their tail canons and activated their bayards powers.

 

Lance activated his jaw-blade and flew in close to the Druids, chasing one off when he realized their power was feeding off of each other, as soon as he mentioned this to the team, Pidge joined him in blocking the Druids from re-grouping. Allura created a wall of ice around the temple’s entrance, blocking Haggar from entering while Keith and Shiro made sure she was too occupied to teleport anywhere.

 

Then, they all heard a loud rumble coming from the sky, the only warning they received before a strong canon of purple energy came shooting towards them.

 

“What? Where’d these guys come from?!” Lance yelled as the team frantically dodged the new onslaught. When the ships came into view, they could properly identify about 50 or so drone ships and three cruisers.

 

“Dammit, they called for backup? How?!” Pidge groaned, as her Lion fought off 6 ships at a time, blasting holes into each one with her tail cannon.

 

Keith scanned the battlefield, trying to make out how many Druids they were fighting before noticing another entering from behind the temple.

 

“There!” he yelled, then remembering that nobody could see where he was pointing, “Coming out from behind the temple, one of them must have escaped and contacted a nearby fleet.”

 

“Okay, so. Admittedly, things are looking pretty bad. This is a good time to form Voltron, right?” Hunk spoke, nervous tone creeping into his voice and slamming into a couple of ships.

 

“Right, everyone on me. Form Voltron!” Keith called as soon as he felt the presence of the other Lions solidify in the back of his mind. When he opened his eyes, they were a full unit, however, something else clicked. They felt more… complete.

 

“Woah, does anyone else feel that?” Lance asked.

 

Allura nodded from her video feed that had been opened up when Voltron formed, “That’s the White Lion. Voltron was made to accommodate it when it was finally completed. Voltron is whole now!” she spoke excitedly.

 

Suddenly, a new connection opened up, showing Shiro in the White Paladin armor, and some silvery interior from within the White Lion, “Hey guys, does anyone know where I ended up?” he asked, looking out the windshield.

 

Pidge performed a scan on the robot, “Shiro, you’re on top of the Black Lion, it looks like you formed some kind of Lion helmet and cloak!”

 

Hunk perked up, “A White Lion helmet? Awesome.”

 

Keith smiled but quickly schooled his expression back into determination, “Okay, team. Focus. We need to make sure Haggar doesn't get her hands on Oriande's quintessence, let's take out these ships and get back to her as soon as possible.

 

They quickly formed the sword and sliced through countless robots, Shiros helmet highlighting targets and locking onto them to correct the aim. Within no time, all they had left to take out was the cruisers. Keith formed the blazing sword and sliced down the side of the large ship, causing small explosions in its wake. They dodged countless energy beams and winced when they eventually hit Oriande's surface.

 

“Keith? I think I see Haggar doing something to the temple,” Hunk said nervously. As Keith looked over at the entrance of the temple to find Haggar crouched down in a glowing circle surrounded by the remaining Druids.

 

“No! They're going to draw the quintessence directly out of Oriande!” Allura cried, horrified.

 

Keith grit his teeth as they finished slicing up the second cruiser.

 

“Keith, we gotta go over there, man. We can't risk one cruiser for all of Oriande,” Lance said calmly.

 

He swallowed and nodded, turning Voltron around and flying towards the temple. “Hunk, form the shoulder cannon!” He called, watching as Hunk did just that, and accurately fired at the Druids thanks to Shiro's new target vision.

 

One of the Druids looked up and shot out a shield to protect Haggar as she continued chanting. Keith saw the ground around Haggar starting to glow and formed the sword quickly, rushing forward to get things done quickly.

 

They sliced through the ground, successfully disrupting the ritual, and flinched when a laser cannon was fired directly onto Voltron’s back. The Paladins all screamed in unison as the burning sensation rushed through them painfully, leaving them weary and twitching.

 

“We have to…” Keith trailed off, huffing in pain, “Get back up there and- agh- take out the cruiser.”

 

“Got it,” Shiro answered wearily, as Keith turned around once more and rushed past the clouds to confront the cruiser who had fired on them. They dug their blade right down the center of the ship, splitting it at its core and frantically flying away when the explosion was bigger than the ones previous.

 

They all turned to look back at Haggar, who was chanting again and causing the ground to glow brighter than before with a sickening purple light. Keith had never thought purple could have been an ugly colour for him, but clearly, he had underestimated the Galra and their influence.  

 

“If we want to take the Druids out, well need smaller targets. Everyone, disband,” Keith ordered as they did just that. Flying around, all of them trying to attack from different angles. It was working, the Druids looking tired as they tried frantically to defend themselves from the constant attacks. Then, something odd happened.

 

All of the remaining Druids crumpled to the ground, their bodies nearly being swallowed by their long cloaks. The ground glowing beneath Haggar was blinding now, and Keith found himself activating that dark barrier that covered the glass of his helmet in order to prevent looking away from the action. He saw the other Paladins copy his example, and soon they were all basically blind. Except, Keith remembered more than one thing from that training exercise.

 

“All of you,” Keith spoke up, “Connect with your Lions, see through their eyes, we can only get through this if we all work together.”

 

“Wise words, team leader. Very original,” Lance teased before he closed his eyes.

 

Keith felt the presence of the Black Lion glowing in the back of his mind. He closed his eyes as well, and when he opened them, he was faced with Black and their bond. It stretched tentatively out to him, and as he grasped for it, it slowly felt increasingly solid in his hold. Keith let the presence engulf him, sharing its senses with his, flooding his veins with blood that wasn’t his, crowding his mind with a voice that didn’t belong to him. Finally, when they were one, he opened his eyes.

 

Only to come face to face with Haggar.

 

The witch was smirking now, her empty yellow eyes barring directly into his soul. Then suddenly, she turned her face down, her angry indigo skin melting into a dusty brown. When her eyes opened, they were no longer solid yellow, instead, they were human, the distinct coloured pupil lying on a milky white background. Her Altean marks glowed with all the raw quintessence she absorbed from the planet. All around them, Oriande was fading, crumbling…

 

Dying.

 

The planet was dying, and Haggar floated there with a proud smile on her face like she’d made her parents proud over what she had accomplished. Keith snarled and saw red.

 

Before he knew it, he was activating his jet pack and flying right out of the Black Lion’s mouth, ignoring the confused screams from his teammates. He activated his Bayard, and pulled out his Marmoran knife, watching it elongate into a full Luxite blade. Keith swung at Haggar, and she parried easily, her purple lightning now a sickening red. How anyone could think that was his favourite colour, he didn’t know. So many things had been ruined for him in space.

 

Soon, he heard laser blasts from behind him, not even needed to turn his head to know that it was Lance, as his bullet landed right on his mark. Haggar snarled and swiped lightning that surrounded her hands like whips made of pure electricity. More bullets were released, and before Keith knew it, his team had fully joined him. Other whips thrashing against Haggar's, that belonged to Pidge and Allura. Bullet streaming past them that belonged to Hunk and Lance, Keith, coming in close with his swords while Shiro joined him, white Bayard having taken the form of another arm that was clashing with the lightning and pulling up shields.

 

How convenient. Keith thought. The arm looked good on him. It matched his old man hair.

 

Although it was six against one, the Paladins began to believe they were enormously overpowered. They were already beginning to feel the adrenaline seeping out of their bodies, leaving their moves sloppy and sluggish. It wouldn’t be too long now before someone slipped up and got injured.

 

Keith heard a roar in the back of his mind, and before he knew it, the Lions were surging towards the battle scene, fighting alongside them. This knowledge gave him a boost of hope, and he put more power into his movements. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted Lance rushing towards them.

 

What is he doing- His thought got cut off as abruptly, Lance’s Bayard transformed from sniper to broadsword as he sliced towards Haggar with practiced ease.

 

I will marry that boy one day I swear on my blade-

 

“Keith!” Lance shouted at him, as he realized he was standing still, “What are you doing, man? Focus!”

 

He snapped out of it and joined Lance in their battle. They developed a rhythm, Keith rushing forward with both of his blades before spinning out of the way to recover for a bit while Lance swiped low, both of them trying to divert the attention of Haggar. Keith was beaming behind his helmet, his teeth feeling too big for his mouth. The mere thought of him and Lance fighting side-by-side, neck in neck, was enough to make him giddy, but this?

 

Keith was absolutely ecstatic.

 

Haggar abruptly halted, causing Lance to swerve around her in shock. Then she closed her eyes and started chanting something, hands held out in front of her. Keith’s eyes widened as he realized what she was about to do, and he rushed forward with his blade until it caught on-

 

Nothing.

 

The blade swung through empty air as they were transported into the Astral Plane. Haggar was standing far away now. Honerva, his mind supplied. Keith wanted to rush forward again, to finish her off, but five hands clamped down on his arms. On his left shoulder was Pidge, his right, Lance. Allura was holding his right hand, it was tightly grasped in her own. He squeezed it slightly, knowing how badly she’d wanted Oriande to survive. Hunk was anxiously squeezing his left hand, and he squeezed back, trying to offer some semblance of comfort. Shiro came up behind him, placing his hands both of his shoulders. Keith was grateful for the weight of it all, keeping him down on Earth. He nearly scoffed at the irony, as they could not be further from the green and blue planet’s surface now.  

 

Finally, Honerva turned towards them. Keith felt something inside him wanting to tense, to pull out his weapon, Bayard, shield, fists, anything to prepare for a fight, but another part of him stayed down. Dropped his guard, and Keith was scared because he didn’t drop it often, but at this moment, with his teammates holding onto him, he felt safe. Like nothing could hurt him.

 

“You’ve made it further than I expected, Paladin,” Honerva spoke, her raspy tone seeping into her words even now that she had dropped all acts. “I must say, I am impressed. However, it will take a lot more than that from my power to waver.”

 

And Keith was tired. So, so tired. He just wanted to sleep, to lie down, to cuddle up with someone- Lance, his mind helpfully supplied in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Shiro’s - and rest for ten thousand deca-phoebes. Was that too much to ask? Allura did it, why couldn’t he?

 

“Quintessence is necessary for my people, and Oriande has a plentiful supply of it. No person knows of the existence of the White Hole but you all, and I doubt that anyone would miss it.” Honerva began, and Allura gave his hand a final squeeze before she started stepping forward.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇──◇─◇

 

She didn’t know what she was doing. All she knew was that Honerva had said something that finally made something inside her snap. Allura began walking forward, coming close, closer, closer still, to the Altean woman. And Altean, Lotor’s Altean lineage had to have come from somewhere. She just didn’t realize that it was from the witch.

 

Allura remembered Honerva, she was her Father’s royal scientist. Always experimenting with energy in order to help fuel his experiments. She was nice enough, always smelled like a spice that Allura could never name. However, over the years, her scent turned musty, he markings dulled, the light in her eyes that came with explaining her experiments to anyone that would listen was gone. Faded. Trapped beneath the surface. Her smile always looked forced, and she never gave Allura the time of day.

 

On top of all of that, she was directly responsible for Zarkons descent into madness and the destruction of her home planet. Of their home planet, she realized, but she didn’t allow her steps to quicken.

 

Nobody tried to stop her as she approached, she schooled her expression into one of nonchalance, while a war raged on inside of her. Eventually, she came to a stop in front of the older woman. Honerva looked even more faded up close, her once cheerful and colourful body was washed in muted browns and greys. The red being the only pop of colour, that failed to brighten up her resting sour expression.

 

As soon as Allura realized, I hold no sympathy for this woman, she struck.

 

Her markings were glowing so brightly they felt hot on her face as she materialized energy from around her and placed her hand on Honerva’s chest. The older Altean stalled in her speech and looked at Allura for probably the first time.

 

Allura spoke, stone cold and crystal clear, “You took everything from me. I will not hesitate to pay it forward.”

 

And she pushed.

 

Honerva gasped in shock, and Allura briefly acknowledged the Astral Plane fading around her as they slowly returned to reality but she kept on pushing. She drew more and more energy out of the Astral Plane- there was so much of it- and she pushed it all into Honerva. It was ironic, wasn’t it? Honerva was receiving the one thing she desired most, and it became so much for her body that she crumpled, lifeless, as her powerless spirit was released into the empty Astral Plane, where she would be trapped for all of eternity.

 

Allura had spent a good ten thousand deca-phoebes in complete ignorance to the world around her, now Honerva- no, Haggar would do the same, for longer.

 

As Allura stared right in the eyes of the deceased betrayer, the crumbling still temple came into view. Which brought them back to the present situation.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇──◇─◇

 

“We gotta get out of here!” Pidge yelled. “This place is going to collapse!”

 

That was the only warning any of them needed, as they all sprinted back to their Lions. As soon as everyone had reached them, they took off towards the Castleship, where a turquoise wormhole was awaiting them.

 

Romelle’s voice crackled through to the comms, “Oh thank Altea you’re okay, all of you just disappeared! Coran and I were so worried! Come quickly, I don’t know how much longer I can hold this for.”

 

“Sure thing, Romelle,” Allura answered, giving her (girlfriend??) a soft smile.  

 

As the Paladins flew through the wormhole, they heard the deafening sounds of Oriande crumbling and collapsing. The shell of the planet had turned to dust, the molten core imploding on itself. Romelle quickly closed the wormhole after them as soon as they’d spotted the explosions beginning to erupt.

 

And if Keith saw Allura in tears in his peripheral vision? He wouldn’t say anything about it.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

After they had all changed and re-grouped at the bridge, a silence fell over the team. Romelle was beside Allura, along with Coran, comforting them. Krolia was speaking quietly with Keith and Shiro about something, Pidge and Hunk were running diagnostics on the camera’s to see how well they’d worked, and Lance?

 

Lance was still in shock about the whole thing. He wanted to speak up, to ask how everyone was doing, or to crack a joke and lighten the heavy mood, but he just… couldn’t.

 

Every time he closed his eyes he saw Honerva lashing out at one of them, he shivered and decided to leave the bridge. While he was walking, he was joined not too long after by Red and Blue.

 

“Lance, are you alright?” Blue asked.

 

“Look at him, Blue. Obviously, he’s not alright. He wouldn’t be sulking if he was,” Red countered.

 

Lance chuckled and answered them, “I’m fine you guys, just a bit tired is all. Thanks for worrying but, I’m just going to take a nap.”

 

Blue and Red looked at each other for a minute, skeptical, but something seemed to check out of them, as they let him continue walking down the hallway.

 

He opened his door and sighed, spotting the mess from earlier that he hadn’t cleaned up yet. Lance gathered up the bowls and combined all of their content, stacking the empty ones that remained. He shoved the sticky towels down the laundry shoot for Coran- or whoever actually dealt with their laundry- to deal with.

 

Lance sighed as he collapsed onto his bed, flinching when his head came into contact with the game board he’d left underneath the pillow. Frustrated, he tossed it out and settled back in for a nap, which was easier said than done once he remembered the events that had occurred not a couple of minutes ago.

 

He turned to stubbornly glare at the wall, tracing shapes onto it with the pad of his finger. Eventually, he started tapping, the beats correlating with whatever song he had in his head this time (Hint: It was the Mii song, it was always the Mii song, that shit slapped and the rhythm was easy to follow).

 

After a few moments, his door opened with a hiss. Lance looked up from where he was death glaring at the wall to land his eyes on Keith.

 

Keith didn’t quite fit into his casual clothes anymore, having filled out over the years. His shoulders would no longer hold his cropped jacket- which was a blessing if you asked Lance- so he discarded it in favour of wearing his black jeans and t-shirt. Which, clearly, weren’t fitting him that well either.

 

“Hey Keithers, what’s up?” Lance asked, not bothering to sit up. Instead, looking up at the ceiling to avoid staring at the pale strip of skin that was showing from the hem of Keith’s ill-fitting shirt.

 

Keith, bless his soul, didn’t say anything, instead choosing to walk forward and lie down next to Lance. Wrapping his arms around his midriff and burying his face into the crook of Lance’s neck. Meanwhile, Lance was trying his very hardest not to spontaneously combust.

 

Woah, man, you okay?” Lance asked, his voice taking on a higher pitch than he would have liked.

 

Keith nodded against his neck, “Just want to cuddle. Is this okay?”

 

And, oh boy, Keith had no business sounding that small and adorable when he was basically a hardened war hero now.

 

Lance swallowed so hard he heard it, “Y-yeah dude, sure! Totally cool, cool cool cool cool cool, no doubt, no doubt no doubt.”

 

Keith pinched his side, “Don’t call me dude when we’re snuggling.”

 

Lance smirked, now this Keith he could deal with. He turned around so he was staring into Keith’s indigo coloured eyes. “Aww, I’m sorry bro.”

 

The other boy frowned, “No.”

 

“Homie,” Lance continued smirk widening.

 

“Stop.” Keith was not amused.

 

“Hey, Keith…” Lance trailed off, watching Keith’s expression turn from annoyed to confused.

 

“What?”

 

Lance could not have smirked wider if he tried, “No homo.”

 

The punch he received to his gut was rude but fair.

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Matt’s arrival to the castle could be summed up by this meme:

  

I arrive at the Castleship.

Klance? Canon. Romellura? Canon. Daddy? Has a new arm.

I am forcibly removed from the Castleship.

 

Pidge was glad to see her brother again, his hair had grown a little from the last time she’d seen him, but it was decent enough. Now, he had it tied in a tiny little man-bun. Lance tried to convince Keith to do it with his mullet. Keith was not amused, but also weak to Lance, so he gave in.

 

Now there were two man-bun wearing idiots in the Castle.

 

Matt was now sitting next to her, on the desk ‘Like a cultured person, Katie.’ They were all discussing the next course of action, Zarkon was dead, Haggar had been defeated, and Lotor was taking the pacifist route with his ruling despite… earlier complications.

 

Romelle, Allura, and Coran decided to make the trip back to the Quantum Abyss to help out the Alteans. Everyone else decided to go back to Earth.

 

Pidge had to admit, she was nervous. Ever since they’d sent her dad back, the two of them had been communicating through a small device that she and Hunk had helped him create. Matt was currently tapping away on it now, making plans to rendezvous at the Garrison so their sudden appearance wouldn’t be a surprise. The American government could be a little… bitchy about the people they allowed to enter the atmosphere. It was best to give them a heads up.

 

Allura and Romelle were already planning to open a wormhole, Allura, for Earth, and Romelle, for the Quantum Abyss.

 

They’d all packed their belongings, and were preparing to say goodbye to their friends. Pidge wasn’t going to lie, she’d gotten a little teary-eyed, she couldn’t help it. These people had become akin to a family to her when she’d first arrived. Allura was like a mother figure to her, and it helped her cope with the loss of her family. She couldn’t possibly imagine how Hunk and Lance might have felt. Or even Allura.

 

With war, came loss. She knew that she just wasn’t expecting this much of it. It was scary, seeing the announcement made by the Garrison and being forced to believe that half of her family had died due to a pilot error during the Kerberos mission.

 

Allura opened a wormhole, and Pidge held her breath. After so long, they would finally be returning to Earth. There was so much she wanted to tell her mom, so much she wanted to invent with all the crazy Altean tech that Coran had let her keep. Allura said that they would make sure to visit occasionally, and Pidge knew she would be eagerly waiting for the day they returned.

 

While Coran was landing, Pidge picked up her things. One of the small fluffy Aliens that had snuck aboard the Green Lion from the Trash Planet was floating beside her. It’s round button eyes glancing around curiously as they took in the planet.

 

The desert was just as barren as she remembered it. It felt like home already.

 

Multiple Garrison officials were waiting for them at the designated landing area. Some of them armed, which she scoffed at.

 

“Really? Do they seriously think those puny guns can take down this thing? What are we Garrison, 12?” she snarked.

 

“Well I don’t know about them, but you’re definitely 12,” Lance teased from beside her, which earned him a punch to the arm. Lance responded by immediately whining at full volume, unfortunately altering his very protective boyfriend who was nearby.

 

Piiiiidge, my poor arm! You little Gremlin, that huuuuurt. Keeeeith, Pidge is harassing me!”

 

Keith, luckily, took no shit from Lance, even now that they were dating, “What did you do now?” he sighed, like an exasperated parent.

 

Lance, of course, sqwalked, “Me?! Uh, how dare you, I was merely chatting with my traitorous friend over here when she assaulted me!” Lance turned to glare down at Pidge, “I should have you arrested for bullying.”

 

The pale boy rolled his eyes and grabbed Lance’s arm- not even the right one mind you- and pressed a quick peck to it, “Is that better?” he asked, his monotone voice highlighted with fond exasperation.

 

Lance pouted, “I don’t know, I think I might have been punched again, hard, on the lips. Can you kiss those better too?”

 

Keith smiled as he leaned in to do just that, causing Pidge to gag so loudly from beside them that Hunk eventually came over in concern. Then he started doing the same thing when he spotted what was happening. Man, Pidge loved Hunk sometimes.

 

“Okay, guys, we get it, that’s enough,” Shiro said from where he’d walked up beside them. “Keith, Lance, knock it off, you’ve got plenty of time to do that later.”

 

Keith pulled away briefly, said, “Okay, it’s later,” and promptly went back to making out with Lance. Shiro sighed, long and hard, and pinched the bridge of his nose. Hunk patted him sympathetically on the shoulder.

 

“You guys are gross, why’d I encourage you to get together?” Pidge asked, disgusted.

 

“Because their ridiculous and falsely unrequited pining was tiring enough on its own?” Hunk asked.

 

Pidge crossed her arms, “Oh, yeah. I still regret everything though.”

 

Hunk shrugged, the angel, and said, “I don’t know, I think they’re kinda sweet when they aren’t devouring each other’s faces.”

 

“So,” Shiro spoke up, tone heavy enough to break Keith and Lance out of La La Land, “This is it, huh?”

 

“Gosh, I can’t believe we’re just… leaving the castle behind. My room is going to be so dusty!” said Hunk.

 

“I for one, can’t wait to eat actual food that isn’t off coloured in some way,” Lance piped up, now eagerly distracted by the conversation. “I hope my Mama makes Tamales, oh geez, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.”

 

“That would be all the saliva you stole from Keith when you were spit swapping,” Pidge replied bluntly, ignoring Keith as he made a choked noise. “I for one, am going to miss all the awesome Altean tech. Rest in Pieces my sweet computer, your processing unit will be forever mourned.”

 

“I think I’ll miss the Lions the most,” Keith joined, “It’s going to be so weird now that we won’t have their voice in the backs of our minds.”

 

“Actually,” came Allura’s voice from behind them, “Earth will be keeping the Lions. We will need them again if anything comes up, and Earth will certainly need the protection.”

 

“But what about Blue?” asked Hunk.

 

Allura smiled, “I think Blue will be happy to be home.”

 

“Yeah,” smiled Shiro, “It’s good to be back.”

 

◇─◇──◇────◇────◇────◇────◇────◇─────◇──◇─◇

 

Keith’s laugh was a godsend. If Lance had ever thought he’d get far enough to finally hear it, he wouldn’t think it to be weeks later. However, here he was, listening while Keith practically howled beside him. Lance was smiling so wide he thought his face would split, but Keith’s happiness meant the world to him.

 

His laugh was raspy, husky like it had gone unused for ages. The very thought made something inside Lance squirm with guilt, but now that Keith was here, his soft hair falling into his face as he hunched over, clutching his stomach. Lance wanted nothing more than to hear it again, and again, and again, to make up for the lost time. Hell, he’d record his gorgeous boyfriend's laughter so he could hear it over and over again if he knew it would shy in comparison to the real thing. So, Lance would just have to make Keith laugh as much as possible.

 

Above all, Keith’s laugh was warm, inviting, it felt safe. Lance glowed with pride at the thought of Keith finally being able to bring down his walls and trust Lance enough to see him in such a happy and vulnerable state.

 

Keith’s laugh sounded like Home.