For the first time ever, Team Voltron will be coming to Blade of Marmora headquarters. No one ever expected that Zarkon’s son, Lotor, would return and continue the fight his father started. Why they aren’t holding this meeting on the Castle of Lions, Keith has no idea. But he doesn’t care. Either way, Lance will be there. He hasn’t seen the boy since yesterday, not since they learnt of their mutual feelings for each other. For some reason, he feels nervous about it now, but tells himself to relax. Nothing’s changed. They are still the same people. (Yet, when Lance enters the room and immediately scans it for Keith, then smiles and waves when he spots him, Keith’s stance falters. Kolivan glares at him).
As much as Keith’s itching to go to Lance as soon as the talks begin, he decides it would be smart to stay for at least the beginning. He should know what their plan is going forwards. However, the moment they go into the minute details, Keith slips away from his station, and creeps up behind Lance. When he takes the Paladin’s hand, he jumps and places a hand over his heart, pouting at Keith. Keith should probably stop startling the poor fellow, but who is he kidding? He totally gets a kick out of this. Instead, he mouths a flimsy apology through muffled laughter, and whispers “let’s get away”, before ducking out with Lance in tow.
The moment they’re out of view from everyone else, Keith retracts his mask. He breathes out a sigh of satisfaction, but his heart immediately plummets when he hears Lance gasp and notices he’s not beside him. He turns around slowly, hand reaching for his dagger, but drops it and hangs his head when he sees Lance is okay. Shocked maybe, he seems to be frozen in place, but he’s otherwise intact.
“You scared me.” Lance raises an eyebrow at this in an ‘are you serious’ manner, to which Keith simply shrugs, saying, “I was worried about you.” Lance kind of… stops again, and the expression he had before returns. “What is it? Why do you keep doing that?”
“I don’t know, you keep freezing and looking surprised or something.”
“Oh no, I just—” Lance shakes his head, “I still can’t believe yesterday happened. I thought it might have been a dream.”
“Well it wasn’t. And I usually wouldn’t take my mask off here, but I want to see you without it. You’re gorgeous.” The fact Keith can say this openly, without being afraid he’s coming on too strong, is cathartic. The fact he’s able to say it at all, to talk about what he feels and how he feels about others, speaks bounds on how much he’s developed since meeting Lance. He smiles, then. He guesses this is what happens when you’re around such brightness for so long.
Lance, flustered, has to look down for a moment before bringing his eyes back to Keith, and grinning. “You’re not so bad yourself, Mr ‘Look at me with my fancy knife tricks’,” Lance waves his arms around in an exaggerated manner, speaking in a funny tone, and while Keith tries respond with an eye roll, he can’t resist Lance’s impersonation (if he can even call it that), and ends up chuckling. “Where did you learn how to do that, anyways?”
“Here,” Keith says simply. He’s not going to go into detail about how he trained harder and longer than any of his peers so they wouldn’t be able to hurt him any longer, because it wouldn’t do anything to heal the scars they've already given him. “I’ll show you around,” he adds instead, taking Lance by the hand again.
There isn’t much of a tour to give, all the rooms are more or less the same—they’re all barren and generally unwelcoming. They pass by the test grounds at one point, and Keith seizes up. Immediately he gets vivid flashbacks to the worst experience of his life. Everyone has to go through the Trials of Marmora, but that doesn’t make it any better. Those on the other side show absolutely no remorse, even if they’ve known you since you were an infant. And because Keith is considered to be a prodigy of sorts, he wanted to get it done earlier, so he could start going on missions. At no point did anyone oppose, and at no point did anyone think he wasn’t ready. Maybe Galra children develop faster than humans, so they legitimately thought Keith was, but maybe they just didn’t care. Out of all the assignments Keith has ever been on, out of all the battles he’s been a part of, there is not a single one that can compare to the amount of injuries Keith suffered from his initiation. The rooms just kept on coming, and the number of Blades just kept on increasing, and they were so relentless, and he honestly thought it’d never end—that he would die there.
When the fighting finally stopped, that’s when the virtual mindscape was created. He saw his mum, or at least, the version of her that his memories and photos pieced together. He saw her approaching, and despite how excited he wanted to be, hesitance stopped him. What if she didn’t recognise him; what if she wasn’t staying? But then, she smiled. She raised her hand and waved it from side to side, greeting Keith. A childlike innocence suddenly took over him, and he started running towards her. She ran too, crouching to catch him in her arms, but when they almost made contact, an explosion went off, and Keith caught her slumped body in his arms instead. He started bawling, because there was blood seeping through his mother’s armour, and it wasn’t not supposed to do that. Their armour was supposed to protect them. He desperately placed his hands over her wound, applying pressure like he had been taught, but it was so slippery, and his mum’s breathing was coming out more laboured, and he was pleading please, she can’t die too.
She seemed to be at peace though—there was no pain or fear in her eyes. She tilted her head, looked up at Keith, and raised a hand to his cheek. Keith’s eyes were hot from tears, but he wiped them away so he could see her clearly. “This is your fault Keith,” she said, “you’ve killed your entire family.” Keith reeled back from the shock, but her hand remained firmly in place. It was no longer warm, but ice cold. He wanted to get away. This couldn’t be real. And then, her expression turned sympathetic. She looked hurt, but not from her wound. With her final breath, she asked him, “Who will love you now?”
After Keith finished the trial and awoke his blade, he immediately made Kolivan tell him if his mother was alive. He didn’t care if it went against protocol, he didn’t care if it was confidential, he needed to know. Kolivan didn’t seem surprised with his demands, and told him that yes, she was alive. Keith was confused at how ready he seemed with this information, before he remembered that he could see the whole thing. He saw Keith’s entire trial, mindscape included. Heat immediately flared up within Keith, he felt embarrassed and humiliated by the fact something so personal was no longer his, but he could do nothing except walk away. (That’s a lie, he trained for the rest of the day and for days after, pushing himself to the point of exhaustion in an attempt to suppress the feeling, as well as the memories that caused it.)
It’s a squeeze of Keith’s hand that brings him back to reality. He turns his head numbly to find Lance already watching him, with a concerned expression plastered across his face. “Are you okay?” he asks, so softly, it causes tears to prick at Keith’s eyes. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” Keith gives a small shake of his head, “I can’t; not now. Maybe someday, though.” He tries to smile—he thinks it would do him good to talk about it in the future, no matter how much he dislikes the idea, and he knows the one person he’s willing to tell is Lance—but it wavers. Lance notices this, and squeezes his hand again. This time, his grin is genuine.
In the end, they go to Keith’s room. Keith feels self-conscious at first, because it’s the first time he’s ever let anyone in his room, but he gets over it, because—
“Wow, it’s so empty,” Lance observes the space around them, but there really isn’t anything to see. There’s a bed, a desk, and a chair. That’s it. The walls are empty, and the ground is spotless.
“Yeah,” Keith takes the chair so Lance can sit on his bed, “there isn’t much for me to put here.”
There’s a moment of silence before Lance unclasps something from his neck, and holds it out to Keith. Upon closer inspection, Keith is able to distinguish a translucent blue object of sorts, attached to a braided black leather cord.
“It’s sea glass. A normal fragment of broken glass gets weathered through tumbling and grinding until it’s no longer sharp, and results in this. This specific piece comes from Cuba, actually. From the bay on the opposite side of the island to where I lived. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, so… I guess you can say it’s been through a lot with me. I want you to have it.” Keith had been nodding along to what Lance was saying, he enjoys listening to Lance talk, but at this moment he pauses.
“What? But this is—It’s yours! It’s important.”
“Yeah, but,” Lance rubs a hand on the back of his neck, “you’re important too.” This catches Keith off guard. Sure, he may have a newfound knack of being charming, but that doesn’t mean he can take compliments. He tries to hide his blush when Lance continues, “Besides, you can give it back to me when we get to Earth.” He nudges the necklace towards Keith, and he finally takes it. He looks at it again, running the glass through his fingers, and notices that it feels sanded. It’s a brilliant blue colour, and when he holds it up to Lance’s eyes, he finds that they match. He nods, satisfied, and then carefully places it on his desk. He doesn’t want to wear it, too afraid that if he takes it outside it’ll get broken, or lost. Besides, it’s something to be treasured, and he likes the idea that the first thing he sees when he comes back here will remind him of Lance.
In the meantime, Lance has pulled something else out. A pair of red slippers that look like his lion. “I, uh, have something else too. To balance things out. These actually came with our lions, believe it or not.”
“Are they yours too? Also where did you have them before? You don’t have a bag with you or anything.” While there are multiple things from what Lance just said that Keith could focus on, he’s stuck on the fact that the Red Paladin is apparently a magician as well. Lance laughs.
“I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve,” he winks, “but no, these aren’t mine. I cherish mine too much to give them away,” Keith scoffs at this. “I just had extra pairs. And that makes sense, right? How could there magically be a pair of slippers that fit me just right? Also, what if we changed lions? While I could never imagine leaving my darling Red, in the event it does happen, wouldn’t our slippers need to change too? If I have to pilot another lion, I deserve to get the full package as if it’s the first time—uniform and accessories included. Anyways, I just thought it’d be hilarious to see you trudging around in these.”
“You won’t get to see though? It’s not like I’d wear them to go see you, or on a mission.” Keith hates that this implies he actually will wear them, despite how ridiculous he thinks it is, but Lance brightens up at this implication; he looks so excited, and what can Keith say? He’s whipped.
“Nah, but I can imagine.” Lance winks again, but waggles his eyebrows this time too. The suggestive tone has Keith going red, and he hates that the smallest things set him off. And Lance doesn’t even mean it like that. “But come on, I brought them all the way here, at least show me they fit? Oh my god, we can do a whole runway and everything too! Please?”
Keith frowns at the shoes still in Lance’s hand, then looks up at Lance’s gleeful expression, and reluctantly reaches out to take them. Upon first contact, he almost gets chills and drops them, because they’re fuzzy, and that’s the stuff of nightmares. (But like he said earlier, he’s too far gone.)
In Keith’s room. Keith sharpens his dagger at his desk while Lance sits on his bed, watching him work.
L: By the way, we’re giving you a makeover when we get to Earth. No one has a mullet these days, no one.
K: (feeling insulted) Hey, it’s not my fault. I hadn’t cut it in a while, and it was always tucked in my mask, so it wasn’t getting in the way anyways.
L: (unconvinced) Hm.
Keith is honestly pretty excited about his assignment to infiltrate Ranveig’s base. No matter how much Kolivan goes on about “emotions being a luxury” the Blades cannot afford, there is nothing that sends adrenaline through his veins faster than a dangerous mission. He’s excited to discover who the operative is as well. It’s not often that any member is gone for a really long time while only maintaining contact with the higher ups, so he wonders if it’s even someone he knows. There’s a moment after he arrives where he becomes hesitant, unsure if he’ll even be able to recognise her with her mask on, but when a group of soldiers pass by, there’s a unique uniform standing out, one indicating authority, and Keith knows he’s found their spy.
Things escalate from then on, and not for the better. He gets caught by the spy, first of all, which is a bit of a blow to his ego, and then they’re attacked by an enemy fleet. He cuts through the first few sentries easily, but when he gets thrown to the side by one of them, he gets captured by their Commander. Great. Two in a day. He’s still mad about it, and then he sees that the operative has reverted his blade back to his dagger. And now he’s just lost. How can she do that? Their blades are unique to each member, however if there’s a strong enough bond, sometimes another member can awaken it. Even then though, they can never assume full control. And Keith isn’t close to anyone, so just who is she? Her words only confuse him further, however he tries to stay focused on the mission and ignore them. But then she gives up the weapon, just to save him. Is she not a member of the Marmora? Why would she compromise the mission? He has no time to ponder all of that though, because as soon as she tells him to get them out of there, he lets his instincts take over and flies.
There are a few close calls. Dangerously close calls. But as usual, Keith makes it. Once they’re far enough away from the fleet, he puts the ship on autopilot and goes to the operative. She hands his dagger back (and boy is he glad to have it on him again—he was feeling empty without it), and he asks the question that’s been nagging at his mind.
“How are you able to use it?”
Nothing in the universe could’ve prepared Keith for her response, because after she closes her eyes, sighs, then looks up again, she says, “Because it belonged to me, before I left it for you.” And then she retracts her mask, revealing a face Keith thought he’d never see again.
The simple word seems to overcome her with emotion, and Keith notices a single tear trickle down her cheek. “Hello, son.”
“You—Why did you leave me?” Keith doesn’t want to start their reunion like this, but he still doesn’t understand. She’s clearly okay with breaking protocol, so why would she still leave him? So many of his insecurities stem from her absence in his life, and he doesn’t think her sudden presence can change any of that.
“I did it for you.”
“That’s bullshit,” Keith scoffs. “It’s because I remind you of bad things, isn’t it? I remind you of why you’re not on Earth, and you don’t want to see me because I killed Dad.”
“Don’t you ever say that,” Krolia walks up right into his space, “don’t you ever blame yourself for what happened. It is not your fault. If anything, it’s mine. I was gone all the time to protect the person I most love—you. I know I have a funny way of showing it, but I’m still a Blade, and emotions weren’t something I freely experienced until I met your father. I was away all the time because I was frustrated, and not at you. Keith, this war is the whole reason your father died; it’s the reason why I had to bring you to space; and it’s the reason why you had to be a part of the Blade of Marmora, even though I know full well what the mentality there is like there. But I had no choice. There was no other family on Earth, and the only ‘family’ I have is with the Marmora. I couldn’t stay on Earth, because I don’t know anything about it, and I couldn’t risk being found. I was selfish, I admit, but I couldn’t just abandon you. You’re my boy, and a part of me thought that if I worked hard to help end this war, maybe you’d forgive me some day when I came back.”
Keith stares blankly, he isn’t sure the words are registering. He can only nod lamely in response, because he doesn’t know what to say to all that, but Krolia seems to understand. Every single one of his presumptions have just been shattered, and he has to look at everything in a new light. What he does know though, is that his mum is here now, and he’s more than okay with it.
After returning to Blade of Marmora headquarters and making promises to catch up with Krolia after she and Kolivan have a meeting to report back on everything that’s happened, Keith sprints to his room. Recently, Team Voltron and the Blades have been busy with their own tasks, so Keith is back to talking to Lance via their communicators. However, they’ve upgraded—they can video call now. He calls Lance right away, forgoing the usual check in to see if he’s actually there, since he’s still buzzing from the events of today. Luckily, the pilot picks up.
“I found my mum.” “I don’t think Shiro’s… Shiro.”
The two statements are said at the exact same time, and have two completely different emotions behind them, and they both freeze for a moment. Keith speaks first after, because Lance doesn’t look like his usual self, and Keith is worried.
“What do you mean? Are you okay?”
“Um,” Lance looks away, and it hurts to see him hurt, “I’ll explain after. You go first. Did you really find your mum? That’s crazy! I’m so happy for you.” Lance smiles, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.
“Yeah…” Keith is still concerned, but trusts that he will find out what’s wrong later. “Kolivan sent me on a mission to retrieve a spy, but wouldn’t tell me who it was. She was able to use my blade, as in make it change back from the sword to the dagger, which I thought was insane. I guess I should’ve known who it was then, but that’s a crazy assumption to make, you know? But yeah. Turns out it’s my mum. We had a talk on the ship, but right now she’s with Kolivan to debrief him. I still can’t believe it.”
“That’s so… wow.” Lance seems to be preoccupied with something else, and when Keith spots the blue object sitting on his desk, it hits.
“Shit, sorry, I didn’t—You’ll see them soon, Lance. I promise.” Keith hadn’t even thought about how telling Lance his story might affect him. It must be a horrible feeling, hearing about someone reuniting with family when you’re unable to see your own. Keith winces. He hopes he didn’t bring down Lance’s emotions even further.
“I wasn’t—Okay. You’re right. I’m sorry,” Lance rubs a hand across his face, “I don’t mean to be such a downer.”
“No, no, it’s fine. I’m just glad to see you. So, what’s up with Shiro?”
“I don’t know, honestly,” Lance sighs. “But something seems off. A while ago we went to a galactic hub—I wanted to call it the 'space base', but the others didn’t like it.” Keith snorts at this, and the corners of Lance’s lips quirk up. “Anyways, Allura and Shiro went onto the ship to download data, but as they were heading back… Basically, they were discovered, and Shiro sacrificed himself so Allura could get to the pod and escape. We had to go to Zarkon’s central command to rescue him, and it was difficult, but we got him out. Initially he did seem different, but we just thought it was because, well, we didn’t want to think about what the Galra may have done to him this time. And then, he couldn’t fly Black for a while, which was obviously an issue, but we theorised that the witch did something to mask his essence, so Black couldn’t detect that it was really him. Whatever it was, it went away, and everything returned to normal, but things have been odd again recently.”
“Yeah? Like what?” Keith listens closely, because this could mean something dangerous, but moreso because he wants Lance to know he’s there to hear him out. Keith wonders if he’s told anyone of his suspicions, but it must be hard, since Shiro is their leader and their whole team trusts him.
“It’s just a lot of little strange occurrences. Like, he doesn’t make the smartest decisions when all the signs of danger are present. Or he’ll get really pissy and won’t listen to our suggestions like he used to. And then this one time, we were on the astral plane, but he showed up really late, and he called out to me, telling me to listen, but I couldn’t respond because we were being transported back to our bodies. I asked him about it afterwards, what he was going to tell me, but he said he doesn’t remember calling out to me at all. I don’t know, Keith. Maybe I’m just going crazy. Maybe it’s getting to me.”
“Um, well, remember how I told you Pidge found her brother, Matt? With him on the castle, that means there are seven people, and I guess I’ve just been feeling like the seventh wheel. I mean, everyone’s got their thing, you know? Shiro and Allura are the leaders; Coran flies the Castleship; Pidge, Hunk and Matt are the tech geniuses; and I’m just me. Sometimes I feel like I’m not contributing anything at all.”
“But you are,” Keith starts carefully, “I know I’m not there, so I probably don’t understand everything, but I’ve seen you guys in action, and I know how important you are. You’re the sharpshooter, Lance, their eyes in the sky. The fact that you were even able to that, unlock a sniper with your bayard? That speaks volumes on your capabilities. And you said no one else has been able to do that yet. That’s insane! And you fly the Red Lion, the one which is hardest to master. It’s also the fastest and smallest, so there are some things only you can do. Lance, you wouldn’t be a pilot if you didn’t have the potential, and trust me, you do. The team is lucky to have you on it. Just as I am lucky to have you in my life. I’m sorry things may be difficult now, but I believe in you. And if you ever need help with a confrontation or something, I can be there.” Keith was afraid he wouldn’t know what to say, but the words flowed out of him without him even thinking, and he’s surprised at how much he can say in one go now.
“Yeah?” Lance smirks, “are you going to be my personal bodyguard? But thanks, Keith, really,” his expressions soften, “I feel a lot lighter getting those things off my chest. Oh, and for the record? I’m really glad to have you in my life too.”
In the bridge of the castle. A lot of people are present, there’s a meeting taking place. Keith and Lance stand beside each other on the outskirts; Lance keeps playing with Keith’s hair.
K: (smirking) What was that about wanting to cut my hair again?
K: You keep touching and fiddling with it.
L: Oh shit, sorry. (he pulls his hands away, he hadn’t noticed he was doing it)
K: Hey, keep at it, be my guest. But if not, (he takes Lance’s hand in his own) I’m okay with this too.
Lance smiles, and starts playing with Keith’s fingers instead.
Their first kiss goes a little something like this: it happens after a dangerous mission. The Blades fought on the ground, while Voltron battled in the air. At some point, the Robeast Voltron was fighting released a bomb, one they couldn’t blast away in time, and it set off upon impact. The explosion threw everyone backwards, knocking Keith out. He awoke to a ringing in his ears, and to dust floating in the air. He stood up slowly, but it took him a moment to regain his balance; his vision was blurry and he felt light-headed. He turned around, and his stomach dropped when he saw Voltron on the ground, with the Robeast looking down on it. Keith stepped forward immediately, wanting to run towards them, towards Lance, but someone pulled his arm.
“We have to go!”
“What?” Keith tried to wring his arm out of grasp, but failed. The Blade’s grip was tight. “Let go of me!”
“Kolivan’s orders, didn’t you hear them? We can’t do anything anymore, the sentries are all gone, we’re retreating. Why, what are you going to do, defeat the Robeast by yourself?”
“But—Voltron! We need to help them!”
“We can’t. We’re only going to be in the way.” They tried to get Keith to go again, but he stood his ground. They paused for a moment, and then suddenly swiped at Keith’s feet, knocking him off balance. They caught him before he could fall, and threw him over their shoulder. Keith hated this, he kicked and flailed, but to no avail. He felt like a child, and this is why he hated his stature, and—“Will you stop? Kolivan knows you’re worried about the Red Paladin. We’re going to drop you off at the Castle of Lions, and you can wait there.”
Waiting is not fun. Keith sits in the empty hangar, feeling so small in the large space, and tries not to panic. When he came in he greeted Coran, who looked just as worried as he felt, if not more (he’d lost contact with Voltron, they hadn’t been able to communicate since the explosion), but told him that they’d pull through—they always did. Keith nodded his head in appreciation. He liked Coran. After, he checked in with Kolivan, to let him know he was okay, and awkwardly thanked him for letting him come to the castle to wait. It only got more awkward when Kolivan told him he knew about his ‘thing’ with Lance, and that it meant he went against his orders, but ultimately let him off the hook because “it must be a human thing”.
When the hatch to the hangar opens, Keith leaps to his feet. He watches Red slowly descend, and patiently waits for her jaw to open, but as soon as he sees the barest glimpse of Lance, he bolts. Lance notices him and starts sprinting towards him too, throwing his helmet aside in the process. There’s some distance between them, because Keith stupidly waited at the very edge of the room, and when they’re only a few metres away from each other Lance frantically shouts “retract your mask, retract it!” Keith falters for a moment, confused, before he realises he still has it on. (He honestly forgot—seeing Lance was just too much, it’s overwhelming in the sense that he can’t even think of anything else.)
Keith understands exactly why Lance wanted his mask gone a moment later, because when Lance leaps into his arms, he captures his lips as well. The impact stops Keith’s momentum, making him tilt backwards, but he continues holding Lance close, and the boy uses this as an opportunity to lean further into the kiss. Despite how they got to the situation, their kiss is soft and slow. It calms them down, it stops all the action, and when they pull apart they remain close, foreheads touching, breaths mingling together.
“That was my first kiss,” Lance says after, breathless, and it comes out sounding like a whisper. When Keith pulls back and makes a confused face, eyebrows furrowing, Lance retreats too. “Wh… Was that… I’m sorry?”
“No! I just meant…” Keith doesn’t know how to explain, “you’re just so…” he vaguely gestures at Lance, “but yet… really?”
“Hey,” Lance smiles; there’s a fond look in his eyes, “maybe the universe was just saving me for you.”
Immediately, Keith blushes. His face burns, and he suddenly feels shy. He tries to respond, but doesn’t actually say any decipherable words, so in the end he gives up and buries his face in Lance’s chest. He giggles (god, what did Lance do to him?), smiling uncontrollably. Lance chuckles too, and places a hand on Keith’s back. “I believe it,” he states in a tender tone, “the stars led me to you.” He kisses the top of Keith’s head.
Keith slowly lifts his head, and Lance looks down at him. They hold this position and just maintain eye contact for a bit, then Keith straightens up and gently presses his lips against Lance’s. “That’s your second kiss,” he does it again, “and third, and—” Lance interrupts him, covering Keith’s mouth with his own. Lance pushes forwards, so Keith responds with fervour, and focuses on the warmth of Lance’s mouth, and how smooth his lips feel, and the fact that Lance is biting at his bottom lip.
When Lance breaks the kiss Keith groans at the loss, but after Lance says “my infinite number of first kisses all belong to you,” Keith has no complaints to make. Only that he doesn’t place his lips back on Keith faster.
As they finally head out of the hangar, Keith takes Lance’s hand, and tells him “me too, by the way, if it wasn’t obvious already.” When Lance raises an eyebrow in question, he adds “all my firsts are yours.”
On a random planet. Keith and Lance are on a ‘date’. They sit on the top of a hill, and there’s a slight breeze. It’s nice.
L: Hey, quick question, why do you guys run like that?
K: Like what?
L: You know, with your arms behind you and in a bent position. (he imitates the stance as best he can while in a sitting position)
K: Oh. It’s easier for us to reach our blades that way, because our hands are already at the back. Our body becomes a smaller target too, and it makes sneaking around easier. It’s pretty good, maybe you should try it. Also it’s the whole, like, ‘we run the same way because we’re a group’ kind of thing, you know? Solidarity and all that. Someone must’ve thought it looked cool and made everyone else do it.
Lance tries to stifle his laughter but fails; he snorts.
K: (looking confused) What?
L: (still giggling) It’s just—There was this TV show I used to watch where a lot of the characters ran like that. When I first saw you guys do it I couldn’t stop laughing.
K: (affronted) What?! They stole our run!
L: (sarcastically) Sure thing, bud.
Keith looks at Lance expectantly. Lance sighs.
L: Do you want to watch it when we get back?
K: (trying to contain his excitement) Yes.
Not long after Lotor was defeated by Voltron, the Paladins received a transmission from Earth, asking for assistance—the Galra have invaded their home planet. As the Castle of Lions had also been sacrificed in the fight with Lotor, and the plans required to build another one were also on Earth, the decision to go there was a no brainer. However, while the Paladins took down Lotor, Druids acting on Haggar’s orders began taking down members of the Marmora. No one knows how they found the bases, but it’s clear that the Blades are being wiped out. Kolivan is gone too. The only reason Keith is still here with Krolia is because they were investigating an unmarked cargo ship that had shown up on their radars. When they came back to the headquarters, it was all empty, however they pieced together a story after listening to all the distress signals that came in but weren’t received.
“So. This is where we stand. Come to Earth with us,” Shiro (the real one—getting him back was a whole ordeal) addresses Keith and Krolia, “we’ll need all the help we can get, and they may need more pilots on Earth.” Keith nods, looking at Lance, without even needing to think about it. He’s been waiting for this day.
“No,” Krolia sounds adamant, “I think Kolivan may be alive. When Keith and I were returning from the intelligence gathering, I picked up on something that strongly resembled a distress signal we used before the Blade of Marmora was unified. I thought it was odd, so I dismissed it, but as soon as we realised everyone was gone, I knew it wasn’t nothing. I’m sorry, but I need to stay behind and check it out.”
Keith is shocked after this, because fuck, if Kolivan is alive, that means he might know about others, too. Keith decides then, that he can’t go either. Because at the end of the day, the Blades are still Keith’s people, no matter what he says about them. He can’t stand by being elsewhere when he can be here, helping anyone who remains. “I’ll stay too, then. I can’t make my mum do this all by herself, especially if there might be fights involved.” Keith looks forwards as he says this, but doesn’t miss seeing Lance’s hurt expression in his peripheral vision. He winces inwardly.
Everyone goes to the Blade of Marmora headquarters, because they need to rest before going their separate ways. Keith feels melancholic walking through the space, it’s eerie to see it so empty. It’s even worse when he thinks about how these may remain empty forever—they don’t know how many survived the attacks. Which is what makes Keith even more determined to find anyone who did.
When Keith finds Lance, he’s sitting against the wall in one of their training rooms—the ones where it’s just a large open space, with no obstacles or anything. The boy looks small, and vulnerable, and Keith feels guilty as he takes a seat beside him.
“Huh?” Lance seems distracted, it takes him a moment to register what Keith has said. “No, don’t apologise. I get it, I’d stay behind too.” He pauses, and then turns to face Keith. “I shouldn’t have asked you to come to Earth with me,” Keith’s eyes widen, “that’s such a big thing, and I was caught up in the moment, and I totally get it if you don’t want to anymore. I mean, you found your mum! Not to mention the whole situation with your organisation. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’m glad we were able to be together for even this long.”
“Is that what you want?” Keith immediately puts up all his walls, shielding himself from whatever may follow. If Lance does decide this is the end, he won’t put up a fight. (It scares him how calm and neutral he is about this, but he knows it’s just a defence mechanism.)
Lance shakes his head immediately, and Keith’s entire being relaxes. His heart is still beating hard and fast, but he’s not holding his breath anymore. “That’s the last thing I want.”
Well, that makes it easy. “Then we’re not over. Lance, I’m in this for the long run,” Keith is nervous about admitting this, but he decides it’s as good a time as any, “I want to go to Earth after this; I want to try those garlic knots you’re so fond of; and I even want to meet your family, although it scares the hell out of me. I want you, Lance.”
“But anything could happen. I might die! You might die!” Because there really is no telling whether they will ever see each other again after they go their separate ways, which is a horrifying thought, but there also isn’t anything they can do to change the situation. Keith doesn’t want to dwell on this though, because for the first time ever he’s not willing to accept the fact he could die on a mission. He wants to make it out. He needs to make it out. However, he still thinks they should do something special before they say farewell.
“Then let’s make our last day together the best day.”
At the base of the Red Lion. Lance is about the depart for Earth. Keith doesn’t really know what to do.
L: I’m gonna miss you.
K: Yeah, me too.
L: I just—Stay safe, okay? Please. I know you like to go all out with your fighting, and yes, it looks very cool, but when I see you again I want you to be in one piece, if possible.
K: (smirks) Ha, you think I’m cool. (Lance glares, but there’s no heat behind it) But yeah, I shall be more cautious. That means you have to be too, by the way. (he pauses, reading Lance’s expression) Hey, your family is going to be okay.
L: (caught off guard) Who said—
K: You get this look sometimes.
L: Fine, you got me there. I’m just worried.
K: And you have a right to be. But if they’re as strong as you are, I have no doubt they’ll make it through.
L: (smiles) I’m really going to miss you. (he steps closer to Keith, and places a hand on the back of his neck)
K: (takes a deep breath) Soon. We’ll see each other again before we even know it. (he closes his eyes, and leans in)
This kiss is different to all their previous ones. It’s lingering, because they know that it might be the last. They savour every moment. (Keith has never had to say goodbye before, but he decides he never wants to again. It sucks. He hates it.)
Keith becomes super busy. Turns out, tracking down Blades is hard. Especially when you only have one ship. But with every member they find, Keith is more optimistic that this hasn’t knocked them down. They will recover. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any dark moments. He remembers the time they found Kolivan. Seeing those blades in the wall made him sick to his stomach, even moreso after his mum said she recognised every single one of them and had personally trained many of them. It was only made worse when Macidus turned out to be a Druid himself, using Kolivan to send the signal to draw Blades in, then kill them. Defeating Macidus was hard, especially since he was teleporting all the time, but they were able to do it. They stayed on the planet for a few more days to allow their leader to recover, and then set out to revive the Blade of Marmora, taking the blades of the fallen with them.
So, during the day Keith can’t think of anything but his mission. At night though, he wonders how Lance is doing. Whether he’s seen his family yet. Felt the rain. He takes out the piece of sea glass that now hangs around his neck (there’s nowhere safe for him to put it anymore, and it reminds him of Lance when he feels it against his chest, calming him down), and runs his fingers over it, falling asleep to the thoughts of a blue-eyed boy from Cuba.
When a message is transmitted across the universe that Team Voltron has defeated Sendak and the witch, and that the war is over, they all celebrate. Keith even gets to see the stoic Kolivan crack a smile. The message invites anyone who receives it to Earth, where they can help the humans rebuild their civilisation, or even find a new home for themselves. Just before the Blades head there, however, they get a personal message from Coran. And when Keith listens to it, his heart sinks. The Paladins sacrificed themselves to dispose of a bomb, and when it exploded, the impact sent them crashing into the ground. They’ve been comatose for a while, but the doctors say they’ll be okay. Coran believes they may wake up by the time the Blades get there, if he’s judged the distance correctly.
Throughout the entire journey to Earth, Keith is impatient. He knows Coran said the doctors said Lance will be fine, but he’s still worried. What if something suddenly happens? What if the doctors are wrong? He knows their ship is going as fast as it can, but it still feels like snail’s pace. His mum keeps sending him concerned glances of her own, and after a few days he finally sits down to talk about it with her.
“I just want him to be okay, mum. I really care about him.” And Keith’s voice is trembling, and he keeps bouncing his leg, but as soon as Krolia gathers him into a hug, he halts.
“He’s a strong boy. Second only to you,” Keith rolls his eyes. “Hey, you’re my son, of course I’m going to think that,” Keith manages a small grin, and Krolia pulls him closer. “He’ll make it out, I promise.”
As soon as they touch down on Earth, Keith asks to be directed to the hospital where Lance is admitted. He gets the level and room number, then sprints. He doesn’t even think as he approaches the door, which is why he’s met with almost ten sets of eyes staring at him after he barrels into the room. He’s slightly out of breath from the running, and now he’s freaking out because Lance’s family is here and he wasn’t prepared, and then he finally looks at Lance and stops breathing altogether.
Tears actually form. He bites his bottom lip to try and stop the watering of his eyes, but ultimately fails. When the first drops fall, Lance immediately frowns and opens up his arms. “Hey, hey. Come here,” Keith walks right into Lance’s embrace, “I’m here,” he pats his hair, “and I’m okay,” he presses his lips against Keith’s temple, “and you’re here,” he pulls back so their foreheads touch, “and that’s all that matters.” Keith, in the meantime, simply nods at Lance’s words. When he stops crying, he pulls back, sees the wet patch he’s made on Lance’s gown, and cringes. He dumbly touches it, as if it’d do anything, and then remembers that there are other people in the room. Who just witnessed all of that. And he promptly freezes.
Lance, who seems to have just been reminded of this too, decides it’s the perfect time to start introductions. “Um… Guys, this is Keith,” Lance gestures at him, but he’s still staring at the bedsheets, too frightened to look up. “He’s my… boyfriend?”
“Why the question?” A man asks this in a teasing tone, although he sounds just as amused.
“I mean, we never really had a label for it. We were together, and that’s that. Do they even call it that up in space?” Lance faces Keith again, and this makes him look up, and just seeing him in the flesh, in front of his eyes, gives him a sense of serenity. It even gives him the courage to speak in front of all these strangers.
“Are you really asking me? Me, who didn’t even talk to anyone before you; me, who essentially grew up being told I couldn’t have feelings?” This garners muffled laughter from their audience, and even Lance cracks a smile.
“Ooh, he’s funny.” A girl who’s the spitting image of Lance leans forwards and beams at Keith. She too, is bright like the sun. Wow, Keith thinks, it must run in the family.
The situation really doesn’t end up being as awkward as Keith imagined. Lance introduces him to his family members, and they simply talk for a bit. They ask Keith about who he is, where he’s from, what his uniform is for, and whether that’s a real knife in his belt. Lance tells them to stop prying, but Keith says it’s fine, he’s okay with it. Because he really is now; after meeting Lance and finding his mum, he doesn’t feel the need to hide anymore. After a while, Lance’s family leave to give him and Keith some privacy (there were some smirks and not-so-subtle eyebrow raises, but it embarrasses Lance more than Keith).
All they do though, is rest. Keith is tired from his journey, and Lance is still recovering. So, Lance lies back down, brings an arm around Keith, and Keith snuggles into Lance’s chest. It’s warm, and they sleep comfortably, knowing the other will be there when they wake up.
In Lance’s room. Keith is reading a book on his bed, while Lance has just returned from dropping his niece and nephew home.
L: (lying next to Keith) Hey, I like you.
K: (smiles fondly, but doesn’t take his eyes off the page) I know.
L: (pouting) You’re not going to say it back?
K: (feigns innocence) Hmm? (he finally looks at Lance) Sorry, did you say something?
Lance takes the book from Keith’s hands and places it on the bedside table. Keith looks at him with a confused expression, and Lance takes advantage of this to tackle Keith down onto the bed. He sits on top of him.
L: (whining) Hey, pay attention to me.
Keith simply looks up and smiles, but the moment Lance relaxes, he flips them over so he’s straddling Lance. Lance can’t do anything but stare—Keith looks ethereal—his breath has been taken away. Keith cups Lance’s cheeks, then leans down so their noses are touching.
K: I (he kisses Lance on the nose) like (he kisses Lance’s cheek) you (he kisses the tip of Lance’s mouth) too.
Keith barely manages to get the last word out before Lance pulls him down and presses their lips together.
Lance, by all means, was an ordinary boy. When he was swept into space, and became a Paladin, a pilot for Voltron, a Defender of the Universe, he assumed it would change. But it didn’t. He felt inferior to his teammates; everyone had their thing, they could contribute in some way, but he was just… there. And then, he met Keith.
When Team Voltron and the Blade of Marmora had their first meeting, Lance didn’t notice anyone in particular at the start (he was too busy trying to look cool and be intimidating), but when things settled down and discussions began, Lance was immediately drawn to the smallest Blade of Marmora member. He couldn’t help but be curious. Why was he so small? Maybe, Lance thought, he’s different. Maybe he’s like me. Because if there’s one thing Lance understood, it was what it’s like to be an outsider. And so Lance set out to get to know him, and to keep him company at the castle. In hindsight, it was sort of a stupid and naïve idea. Lance was doing this purely based on assumptions, and maybe for himself as well. He thought that maybe it would make him feel better, help him understand that he wasn’t alone.
What Lance didn’t expect was to be so enraptured by the boy. Sure, he was closed off and didn’t really talk about himself, but Lance learnt other things about him. Like the way he carried himself, with a confidence Lance envied. Because while Lance may act like he doesn’t care what others think, deep down he really, really does. He’s a people pleaser, and he’s always just a bit worried that they actually don’t want him around. Keith, though? Keith truly couldn’t give a shit about what anyone else thought of him. He had his own things to do, so he did them. But Lance also saw beyond that. He saw that this attitude was masking something else, something deeper. Sometimes Keith’s walls would temporarily fall, and his cold demeanour would vanish, and underneath all that was just a simple boy, who’s been forced into a situation no one that young should be in. (But then again, that goes for Lance and everyone else involved in the war too, doesn’t it?)
Somewhere along the line, Lance developed feelings for Keith. It was inevitable, honestly. Lance gets crushes easily, so he’s been through the process many times before, but he really didn’t want this to be the same. Keith felt different. All those simple gestures he made? They were grand in Lance’s eyes. No one had ever done anything like that for him before, so the fact a boy who’s never been social before could made it all the more special. He had always planned to confess after realising and coming to terms with his feelings (really, a boy from space? Whose species they were fighting on an almost-daily basis? Great going, Lance), because he never wants to be stuck thinking ‘what if’, but he was really nervous this time. He’s the first person in space Lance has ever flirted with and truly meant it, and at this point he had probably hung out with Keith more than any of the other Paladins. He didn’t really know what the rules in space were, so he just hoped he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Keith’s concerns made sense. He hadn’t really shown Lance who he was—Lance hadn’t even seen what he looked like. But to Lance, it didn’t matter at all. He knew who he was as a person, and really, Lance would never be one to date someone who hate a crappy personality, no matter how attractive they were. The way he chose to express this with words was terrible, he admits that, and he had been berating himself over it when he caught sight of skin. And god, nothing in the universe could’ve prepared him for what Keith actually looked like. Because he was human, and beautiful, and Lance fell for the same person a second time.
His relationship with Keith was not his first, but it definitely felt like his last. Lance and Keith went through a lot, both individually and together. This meant they understood each other more than anyone else could. They had a bond like no other, one that could probably even rival the one he shared with his lion (sorry, Red). When Lance accepted his death, he had apologised to his family for leaving them, and said goodbye to Keith. He was sorry he couldn’t be there with them after the war, but was glad that at least they would be safe now. After he made it out the other side, it all felt very… odd. Like he was having an out of body experience, or dreaming. Something felt off, and he couldn’t place what it was until Keith came charging into his hospital room. As soon as he saw him, everything came back together. And he took in a deep breath, because he really did save the universe, and he was in fact alive. When he saw Keith cry, it was hard to hold back his own tears.
It’s all been a bit downhill after that, but not in a bad way at all. Lance couldn’t be more thankful for the silence, for those moments of tranquillity. Because it means he can spend it with Keith, whose smile is getting wider, whose eyes are shining brighter, whose sharp edges are becoming rounded like petals. The war has still made its toll though, they each have their own nightmares, and sometimes it feels like they won’t ever be free. It took them a while to open up about it, but it gets better after that. Because when one of them wakes up in cold sweat, the other is already there by their side, and that’s all it takes to remind them whatever they just saw wasn’t real. This is, though. They are real.
Keith overpowers all of Lance’s insecurities when they’re together. He makes him feel comfortable in his own skin, and like he’s enough (more than, even). He feels like he’s the first choice. And you know what? As Keith would tell him, tucked under his chin, after a gentle kiss is placed on his forehead, he absolutely is.