If you’re Shiro, you understand intimately the workings of being humbled. You know the power of humility; the tremor of humiliation. If you’re Shiro, you know what it’s like to carry and to hold. What it’s like to look and to see; to hear and listen. What it’s like to want and to yearn. If you’re Shiro you know best of all the peeling of a splinter. The cracking of a break. If you’re Shiro, you know intimately how it is to be burdened and to be heavy. If you’re Shiro, you know what it means to break.
Possession and ownership used to mean more to Shiro. Before Voltron and Kerberos and even the Garrison, the concept of “his” was cleanly grasped. Now, “his” is a concept almost as elusive as sleep. More coveted than love.
Shiro knows he holds onus, definitely. He knows he has the title of paladin, but less concretely held. He takes and receives blame and thanks. He gives and is stolen of his time and energy, but is tentative to give any more.
If you’re Shiro, you don’t know how much more of time and energy you can really give.
If you’re really truly Shiro, you know better than to say you’re giving your mind and body, for they have stopped being yours a long time ago.
Shiro is scared to think of just how many “his” there are. He’s scared, and he knows to temper his distractions. He knows, so he doesn't think of them at all. Shiro is scared and distracted, so he compartmentalizes. He knows Lance deserves better, but then, how much more can he do?
When he's busy saving the universe, the world, himself, he gives and gives then takes and takes. He’s too aware that things are only shyly his to offer and have. Even still, Shiro feels the electric tendrils of magic working up his arm and into his head. Echos of sensation and whispers of perverse suggestions. Malicious guidance. Hers.
He is subservient to she without qualms and without consequence. To the end of his own ruin, Shiro will make himself his own master. If not to himself he will return, then he will become his own like never before. To the extent of his humiliation, he will bow his head under gentle humility.
If and when he should dream, the visions that play will be his own. No longer taking a knee to the shocks and bolts of bloated evil. For his own, he will make for himself dreams of soft unending light. When sleep and possession and love no longer elude him, he’ll slip into rest with golden waves of desire. No longer will he be ball and chained to servitude of limbs that aren’t his. Shiro’s mind grows silent from the emptiness of thoughts no longer his.
When he’s not busy saving the universe, vying for cooperation or minding his temper, Shiro takes long looks in the mirror. Not of vanity; he’s never paid that much thought- but of fear. Shiro no longer fears himself, but do his teammates? If so; of what? If not, then why? Pink and white lashes coil around his battered frame, so Shiro knows his presence enough can inspire fear. His potential is enough to make people grow wary. Past realities have brought fearful possibilities to fruition, and he is loathe to give any more cause to animosity.
Often, Shiro finds it easier to find things he loathes about himself than not. Sometimes all he can see is the fear he inspires. The burden he himself creates. During the gruel intervals he spends in front of a mirror, his head fills up with shouts of his own voice. Scoldings of his own creation. Often it is easy for Shiro to take himself down, but Lance is there to pull him back up. He helps silence harsher voices, and turn them to loving tones. Lance helps turn his face away from the glass.
When Shiro first let Lance in, it was difficult to turn away from the mirror at all. It challenged him to listen and heed Lance’s loving words, because he didn’t know how to handle it. Handle Lance’s love. At first it seemed as though the shouts and screams of Shiro’s mind would never be silenced. In fact, they only seemed to grow louder. Shiro kept letting himself be put down. Taking himself under. Prostrating himself to feelings and fears he knew he ought to put to rest. Every cut, scar and bruise told yet another story of Shiro’s inequities. He’d sooner put himself to rest than anything else.
Shiro doesn't know how or why, but he thought it wise to share that last thought with Lance. He told Lance the only way he felt he could regain control, but the only thing Lance thought to respond with was showering Shiro with more love. Never did Shiro feel smothered; only just enough to feel like he could overcome.
At first, Shiro didn’t know how he deserved Lance’s love. He doesn't know what Lance sees to make him think Shiro is deserving. At first, things that Shiro thought he was over, were brought more into the light. Every way he was broken, every way he choked became all the more obvious. He suffocated under it.
“I want you. I want you too, but what can I really give?” he asked Lance. He asked, because at that point, he knew the only things he could give weren’t belonging to him yet.
In love, always in love, Lance simply said "I just want you.”
Shiro hoped and dreaded that Lance knew how much weight those words carried.
Certainly he wants to give himself to Lance. Now that he knows who he is and what his means, Shiro feels ready to dole out all goodness to Lance and goodness only. Yet still, he finds himself hiding his fractures because surely Lance didn’t mean all of him. He couldn’t have. Shiro knows Lance didn't mean he wanted to hold and console him through the racking when bolts and flashes struck. Lance didn’t mean he wanted to sacrifice his own sleep. His own wellness.
If you’re Shiro, you know that loving Lance means watching after your ghost, shadow and reflection at all times. You would know that giving love to Lance is exhausting in unexpected ways. It means cheering Lance on when he pulls the team together; picking up the slack. It means hoarding your pride as you watch the Red paladin come into his own. Suffusing your blinding rapture as he grows forward and grows up right in front of your eyes. It’s savoring in his mellow. It’s basking in his warmth.
It’s the fear of what little it would undoubtedly take for him to leave you.
Shiro stopped running out of ideas of what to give Lance a long time ago. He’s been drawing from reserves, but the dry well he’s been pulling from is closing up alarmingly fast. In dreams when Lance’s smile doesn’t shine on Shiro, the cold torrent of Lance’s back facing him haunts him instead. When Shiro's feet lead him back in front of the mirror, he sees Lance’s feet striding away. He leaves Shiro to pick up the shattered pieces of red glass shards.
Sometimes instead of a smile or a laugh, Shiro sees only the heavy sinking beneath Lance’s eyes. Those dark shadows, Shiro knows are his.
Sometimes, the only things Lance shows him are his own worst nightmares.
That, Shiro can never be loosened enough to share.
It kills Shiro, absolutely kills him that he cannot truly give to Lance what he wants. He cannot give to himself what he wants. It kills him that still, he plagues their nights shared with nightmares scored with violence. Dreams drowning with potential. Dreams poisoned with the voice of his vicious master.
(Not Shiro’s body, not his mind, not even his very dreams are his own.)
When he wakes up with Lance’s gentle, ever gentle voice coaxing him awake, Shiro knows his short and panting breath is his. He knows the the time it takes for his heart rate to slow and his pupils to contract is theirs. He knows the apprehension and worry he causes is Lance’s alone to surmount. It kills Shiro, kills him that he cannot give Lance that time nor peace back.
It kills Shiro to know that right now, he cannot properly provide.
At night when the teams have completed a mission and they’ve all reconvened, he lets himself indulge in as much of Lance as he can. Shiro holds him as much as he can, because he cannot bear to think of when the time will come for Lance to leave. He indulges in as much Lance as he can, because he doesn't know when he will be able to no longer. At night when they lay together, he sheds tears fast and heavy, losing all composure. Every front and facade Shiro has to maintain in company, he lets fall faster than the drops from his eyes.
Almost just as quickly do the pleadings fall from Shiro’s lips. For as Shiro takes and receives his savoring of Lance, he tries his damnedest to delay the inevitable.
“Lance, Lance please-“ he hitches on every word. “Please don’t leave me.” He implores. “I don’t want want to see you go.” He cries. “I can’t- I don’t have anything more to give. I don't know what more I can give you, but let me give you everything you want. Take anything you want from me, but I can't bear it if you left. Not you too,” He begs.
Lance holds him tighter. “Hey Shiro,” he whispers. “Stop talking that way, alright?” He hushes. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here, Shiro. I’m not leaving,” he promises.
For the night, Shiro lets it be enough. He takes Lance at his word, and takes every soft word from Lance he may get.
Then as time passes and they progress, at first becomes at last. At last, Shiro will briefly draw Lance in his arms to the public eye. At last, he no longer begs Lance to stay, no matter how superfluous it was to begin with. At last, he lets Lance deeper in.
In their shared evening, Lance’s words become less soft. But not hard. Shiro cannot articulate the quality Lance’s words begin to take, but they’ve begin to morph into something… more. Shiro’s lover as a whole has become something more.
It started with their shared intervals standing before the mirror. At first, Shiro would abide and Lance would abet, both of them dwelling in the outward silence but inward chaos of Shiro’s thoughts. Lance would have no poignant or convicting words to say, and after the third or so try of frivolous sentiments, he thought better to let them simply watch. And wait. Lance would wait without saying a word. He would wait for Shiro to have his fill, both of them roaming their eyes over his arms and torso and face. Lance wouldn’t dare to imagine what words filled Shiro’s head, but he lacked the audacity to think they were anything near kind.
Lance, in the silence, would stand steadfast by Shiro. Sometimes he would run his smooth, warm fingers up and down Shiro’s marred skin. Other times he embraced Shiro from behind, his nose reaching barely over his shoulder. Before too long, before he could get too much into his (her) head, Lance would ask Shiro “Are you alright?” and promptly pull him out of his thoughts.
At first, that was enough for the both of them. The standing. The watching. The waiting. The way that Shiro learned to cope with his new body, and the unspoken desire to have Lance give it a chance.
Until at last, Lance had had enough. Now when Shiro lets his feet be pulled to face his warbled reflection, Lance keeps the momentum going. He no longer lets them dwell in silence. Lance fills the noise himself, and readily so. Almost overwhelmingly so. For when Shiro is drawn to the bathroom mirror to make tangible the reality of his body, Lance hastily follows. He is quick to descend with affection so potent it nearly scrambles Shiro’s thoughts instantly.
If things go Lance’s way, Shiro won’t be thinking at all.
It could be overwhelming with the speed by which Lance takes things, alone. He begins near the top of Shiro’s neck, dropping kiss after languid kiss. One after the other. Lance plants his kisses so terribly, wonderfully slow, it makes Shiro think he's something worth being savored as well.
"You're always thinking so loud, Shiro.”
As Shiro watches Lance’s warm, wet lips kiss Shiro's skin, he starts thinking loud thoughts again. But in a different venue.
Under his breath, Lance hums in satisfaction. He know's he's already won. Shiro told him to take whatever he wanted, so he must now be making good of taking his pleasure.
How good of Lance to give it, too.
After each draw of Lance’s lips, Shiro feels their outline when the cold air drifts over his shoulders. He feels their shape every place Lance’s mouth has ventured. Lance’s mouth leaves no plane of Shiro’s shoulders untouched.
One after another, Lance kisses his entire way down Shiro’s neck, then to the stretch before his shoulders begin. He takes his time, lets himself come to no rush as he slowly covers just one side of Shiro’s back. Only when he’s marked the whole span of Shiro’s skin, paying special attention to his raised scars, does he then move to the top of his spine.
Lance kisses and marks and moves his way over. He occasionally licks and nips his way over, and Shiro can hardly be blamed for his noises that result. When stiff silence gives to gentle hums, Lance kisses smoother. When Shiro’s hums then move to thready groans, Lance licks longer.
Shiro’s groans turn to full-bodied sighs, and Lance can hardly be blamed when he bites into his lover’s muscled body.
It feels something like a powertrip.
It leaves Shiro dizzy and wondering, How simple lavished attention can make me feel this frantic?
He doesn't know when Lance had moved in so close, nor when he laid his hands on Shiro’s hips, but he takes his time removing those, too. After so much tender touch, it feels cruel when Lance gives him no time to answer,
“How do you feel now, babe?"
Lance doesn't seem to need an answer, regardless. Smirking in waxy satisfaction, Lance walks away with the knowledge with all his intents fulfilled. For the rest of the evening, Shiro is silenced as his mind is pervaded with new thought.
How is it that Lance could hold so much power?
How was it that a simple caress and press of lips could leave Shiro so bereft?
When was it really, the last time he had been touched in such a way?
Shiro falls into sleep with the remnants of Lance’s kind smile. His warm hands. His damp lips.
That night, Shiro’s dreams are his and his alone.
At last, after that night, Shiro lowers yet more walls for Lance to climb. He guards himself less for Lance to tread. He opens himself more to let Lance explore.
At last, Shiro lets his body awaken.
It becomes flattering really, how little he can get of Lance’s mouth. Shiro, under the private cover of night, obsesses with how many places he can move Lance’s mouth to be. Over his own, down the bulge of his chest. Down the press of his pants feels too much too soon, but Lance is only keen on seeing Shiro bend. Not break.
Shiro positions himself so he can lavish love, in return. Where Lance’s mouth moves over Shiro, he runs his hands over Lance. Down the lithe curve of Lance’s neck, he covers and traces ever so gently. He moulds his palms over sinuous curves of Lance’s unblemished skin, committing its flawlessness and warmth to memory. He keeps his thumb over its steady, beating pulse for just a moment. Then lets the taking and giving of pleasure resume.
There’s nothing of Lance left off-limits, but little of Shiro left to the imagination. After so long, Shiro had forgotten just how fun taking this kind of company with another was. How good it was to feel the breathless expand and contract of a chest beneath him. How delicious it was to hear an eager voice around him- Lance’s voice around him. Lance’s chest beneath him.
Shiro forgot just how much pleasure he could have, now that his body was his own. He embraced and indulged and savored every minute.
“We can do a little more, you know?” Lance offers.
Shiro is tempted to accept the proposal. Though not before Lance takes the initiative himself. Before Shiro can even respond, his lover takes the advantage of his half-awareness, flipping them so Lance is above him on the bed.
Not in any of their touches or their explorations, has Lance forgotten that touch is an extension of love. For this, he would be the most slow to forget.
For when they have flipped, Lance returns his mouth right where it ought to be. In all indulgence and savoring and spoiling, Lance tastes every bit of Shiro like he never will again. With unbelievable patience he sucks unmistakable bruises all over Shiro’s neck. He leaves Shiro’s neck purple and dark, his chest red and bitten. Downward he works over weathered patches of skin, claiming them as his own and giving them new meaning. Lance lathes his tongue down entire lines of Shiro’s chest. Lance takes his arm, weaving his tongue over his biceps. Across his forearm. Through and over his fingers.
Shiro can’t help letting himself escalate. His voice, his passion, his yearning. They all build and layer from within him- his only relief being the cries and moans and pants released from his throat. Until of course, Lance kisses and licks and marks up him to claim that, too.
Maybe it is because of all the building pleasure inside him. Maybe it is because of where, from the corner of his eye, Shiro can see where Lance’s hand is starting to move. Maybe it is because he is so unused, so unaccustomed to touch this loving; but something else, a different kind of overwhelming in Shiro, begins to snap.
Unaware, Lance traces his deft fingers over the sharp lines of Shiro’s pelvis. Like the first night when they stood in front of the mirror, Lance kisses each of his scars.
“Kisses always make your wounds feel better,” he promises.
Usually Shiro takes Lance wholly at his word. This time however, the only thing he can take from Lance’s words is fright. All at once the violent noise returns to Shiro. It makes him shoot his arm out to keep Lance away, as he whispers for him to stop. He keeps Lance away, for he knows no amount of kisses or tender touches will be enough to smooth over the skin wronging him.
“I’m sorry, Lance.” Shiro says, but he knows not for why. For what.
Defeated, the Red paladin sighs and crashes next to Shiro as they catch their breath. He keeps his hands (and his lips) (and his tongue) (and his legs) reluctantly away, but doesn’t break the fragile moment.
Atop the too-soft covers, Shiro is reminded of touch unkind. He closes his eyes against the onslaught of vile electricity shocking into his very veins. He fights against memories his, not his, of being seduced to madness to escape the pain. He brings himself back to the present, counting slow seconds in his head, after remembering the time where he lived not day by day but breath by breath.
From beyond his mind, he hears a voice beckon. It reaches him gently. Only ever gently, and in love.
“Shiro. Shiro, come back to me, man.” It says.
He silences himself so he can hear the voice better. That seems to worry it, for distress begins to weave its way into its whispers.
“Shiro. You’re in there, okay? We just need to get you out.”
Blearily, wearily and so so tired, Shiro blinks his eyes back open.
“Lance. Lance I'm so sorry, I don't know what got into me.” He clears his throat. “I don’t know…” and holds his lover tight.
After that flashback, their previous mood cannot be regained. For the night they stop their explorations. In no way does it mean they give up.
They try again.
Shiro and Lance try again their explorations the very next night. Shiro lets himself be guided down by Lance’s tugging hands. He seeks their warmth and delights in Lance taking his own satisfaction. They kiss each other’s lips sore, mouths pressing against each other with torrent ferocity. Sometimes, Shiro can still feel Lance’s breath against his the next morning. Lance pushes his tongue so deep in Shiro, pulls Shiro’s tongue so deep in himself that they cannot discern where their taste ends and the other’s begins.
Sometimes, Shiro’s haunting memories will come at the most inopportune times. It might take something as little as a love bite, or so something like Lance putting his hand where Shiro needs it most, to set Shiro into a fearsome tailspin.
In all, Shiro just wants the height of pleasure to be his. He wants to share it with Lance. Shiro can’t imagine how frustrating it must be for the other; to be fully vulnerable, disrobed and ready- for it all to be reminded in a heartbeat. It keeps reminding Shiro that he has to take his body back bit by bit. It starts with his head, he has to hold steady. He has to take strides to his new mastery.
Sometimes, Shiro thinks the only way forward is being taken out. Putting himself out of his misery.
He can’t remember the first time he’s wanted Lance to own his body for him, but now will not be the last. Shiro can’t recall when he first thought of Lance as a soft light, too hot to hold. When he first called him his guiding light. Whenever Lance urges him to “take it easy, Shiro. Let’s go slow. We’ve got the time-“ Shiro knows then will not be the last.
When Lance becomes too hot to hold, Shiro will take the reins to lead them down. He lets himself be held. He shares in the strong drumming of Lance’s heartbeat beneath him, reminding him of life and life left to live.
Each night, evening after the next, they try and try giving Shiro’s body a chance. Somehow Lance keeps finding new things about it, about Shiro to love. Dauntingly, it gives Shiro new things he fears he could lose.
Night after night, try after try, they both walk two steps forward, one step back. Shiro knows progress is seldom linear, but he wants it to be. He knows anything worth doing is worth the time put into it, but Shiro is done with feeling like he’s wasting it. Shiro wants to go forward, and stay forward. Shiro wants to give Lance everything he has.
He doesn’t know when enough becomes enough or when he gets it in his head- but after too many nights of pushing Lance away, too many nights where he has to cool himself off and bring himself back down; too many times telling Lance no when all he wants to scream is yes- Shiro gets it in his head that he’s going to let himself have. He is not owned but will own, to the extent of his own ruin.
When Shiro lays Lance down next, he makes it within all his strength that his old master will not have him. Before Lance can lay a single touch on him, give a searing kiss to him, Shiro promises that
“Tonight, I will have you.”
Take and give and receive and have, Shiro does.
The night begins much like any other; with the slow divulgence of hands stretching over supple skin. Lance grabbing at Shiro’s biceps, clawing down his stomach, palming his ass. Shiro in turn bows under Lance’s mercy, his deftness. He lavishes over Lance’s throat, rests his hands over the lean lines of his abdominal. Reaches his hands down to spread Lance’s thighs.
In times past, that would be a demarcation of where they would have to stop. In other times, Shiro has gone so far as pushing his heat against Lance’s. Pushing and pressing not for any real intention, just to see variable reactions. Lance has yet to disappoint. On a particularly auspicious and daring night, Shiro has pushed Lance’s back down onto the mattress. He urged him to lay his head on the pillow. When Lance was comfortable, Shiro had looked down on him with all the hunger and devotion he could. Lance had heard Shiro’s promise, and felt Shiro’s eagerness as he dragged his wet tongue over his crotch.
Not as often the roles have been reversed, though not for lack of Lance’s efforts.
As Shiro now currently washes wave after wave of affection over Lance, the attentions make him lose any semblance of solid ground. More than ever, Shiro’s gaze pierces straight into his heart. His hands run and smooth and scratch and grab. More than ever, Lance is succumbing to Shiro’s lips and tongue and heat searching to find. Lance gives no pause to bearing himself fully.
Endless the gasps pull out from Lance. When Shiro said he was going to take, Lance didn't know how much he meant it. When Shiro skirts his fingers down Lance’s shivering body, kissing the inside of his thighs and tracing his high corners, he takes Lance in his flesh hand.
If you’re Shiro, you know your lover will never belittle your intentions where pleasure is concerned, again.
Reverently, Shiro shares all his intimacy with Lance as he feels him. With the wet heat already surrounding him. The racing pulse in the veins under his fingers. Honest and unbarred is the way Lance’s body responds, how Shiro leads, and the sounds that escape the both of them.
“Take whatever you want.”
Shiro gathers up Lance piece by piece. Shiro conquers his master moment by moment.
If you’re Shiro, it is both pleasure and power when your mouth replaces your hand that encompasses Lance. It is both music and masochism that makes you wait to take Lance any deeper. To suck any harder. To move any faster.
Lance’s pinched moans spur Shiro on as he writhes around him. He is sure to draw the moment out as long as he can, drawing his tongue along the tip where Lance’s pleasure and agony begins.
Like the kisses Lance always gave when they were still new, Shiro moves his lips over inch of Lance. He leaves no span of skin untouched. His kisses linger longer and longer, as Lance’s pants draw deeper and deeper.
“You’re such a tease,” says Lance breathless. Desperate.
In a crack-whip of hope, realization- Shiro suddenly seizes the things that he can give. Honesty, Shiro is his to give. Shiro can give love and affection; this he can both give and receive. From Lance, love is never something Shiro never wants to take.
And if you’re Shiro, you realize that your love is something Lance has had, all along.