“Red? What’s wrong?” she didn’t respond, but Lance’s mind was screaming thanks to Red’s feelings. He couldn’t understand what Red was trying to tell him.
“Lance? Are you alright?” Allura asked from the speakers.
They had just finished a fight with a Galra fleet, and were going back to the castle. The battle had tired them, even though it had been a small fleet. Pidge had said they probably were going somewhere before they stumbled upon them. They didn't even need to form Voltron. Which was fine by him, because things were kind of weird between them, or at least between Lance and the rest of them.
Lance tried to respond to Allura's question, but Red went crazy. He couldn’t control her. Red looked as if she was sniffing the air. The other paladins were talking to him, but Lance was feeling dizzy, and Red’s panic was getting to him, like it was his own.
“Lance stop it!” Shiro shouted, and then Red stopped. Lance sighed and let go of the handles.
And then she started going at light speed, or at least that’s how it felt. He knew she was fast, but this was something he never even imagined. Flying was nothing compared to what she was doing. He wanted her to stop worrying, but he didn't even know what was the problem. He could still hear the voices of the paladins from the speakers, trying to get him to turn around and return to the Castle.
The faster she was, the clearer her thoughts were. Mine. Danger. Hurting. Get to him. Mine. Save him.
Lance gasped, understanding what this was all about. Keith was in danger. Allura had told them that, like a real lion, Red would go crazy if something bad happened to her cub, or paladin. Lance grabbed the handles, and tried to make her go faster. He supposed his quintessence was the thing that powered Red even more, or so Allura had said. He couldn’t see what was outside, everything looked blurred, but he trusted Red wouldn’t just crash headfirst into a planet.
She slowed down, and Lance saw she was going straight into a village on fire, on some planet they probably had never visited. Lance’s heart was trying to jump out of his chest. He saw aliens running away, guided by Blades, and the Galra ships almost disappearing in the distance.
“Where is Keith?” he asked Red, the two of them looking frantically for a sign of him. Everything looked the same, everything was being engulfed by flames. Red roared then, and went to destroy the roof of a house not far from where they were. “Got ‘im.”
She opened her mouth, and Lance jumped from it to the house. The second floor had been so burned it literally fell to the first. And there he was.
The front door was open, but Keith was on the floor, motionless, under what was probably part of the roof. Lance called for him, but he didn’t move.
He wasn’t strong enough to lift it up, but tried as best as he could to get Keith out of it, his helmet beeping because of the lack of oxygen there. The fire was almost there, so Lance had to be fast. He could feel Red asking him to save Keith no matter what.
Get him to me.
He could get him out, basically dragging him away from the fire. It was so hot, the building was practically minutes away from completely collapsing on itself. Outside of the house, the whole village was destroyed, almost everything completely burned to the ground. He could hear screams, but they were too far, and it seemed like they were the only ones there.
And in the sky, the Castle of Lions and the Lions themselves were coming. He sighed. They had followed him without even doubting why he (or Red) ran away like that. It was reassuring, but the weight of Keith’s body in his arms was making him even more nervous.
“Lance” Shiro’s voice came through in his helmet. “I’m coming to you, don’t move, we don’t know if there are any explosives near you, Coran’s talking to the Blades.”
Get him in here.
But the castle had the cryopods, what was Red trying to do? Lance looked at her, his heart about to burst off his chest. Shiro was right, he didn’t know how the Galra had burned this place, one wrong step and they could explode.
Let us save him. Come to me.
He saw the Black Lion getting near, but Lance grabbed Keith even closer and ran into Red’s mouth.
My boy. Keith. Mine.
Red was frantic, and her thoughts were muddled. He had heard her more clearly when he was outside, inside her it was a nightmare, the air hot and heavy. He laid Keith in the ground, falling beside him and getting his helmet off. He was sweating, of course, and Keith’s face was even colder than his with sweat. He realized the sweat on his face was mixed with his own tears, while Keith's was mixed with ash and blood.
Keith had wounds on the sides of the armour, probably blasts from the Galra, and Lance was quick to put his hand on one that looked particularly bloody, trying to stop him from bleeding out.
“C’mon Red! Let’s go!” he thought the lion would start flying towards the Castle, but she was as still as Keith. Keith seemed to be breathing more and more slowly, his heartbeat even slower. “C’mon! He’s dying!”
The world seemed to stopped when Keith stopped breathing, getting heavy on Lance’s arms. Lance could never explain what he felt, as it all became a blur. He remembers screams that were probably his, pleas for Keith to move, to do anything other than lay still. “Keith, please, don’t, I... Red! Do something!”
Red didn’t respond, but the franctic feeling in Lance’s head disappeared. The air in her pit seemed to get cold.
Then, Keith started glowing. And then Lance. And then everything in the pit was glowing red.
Lance felt like he was burning, his eyes were stinging, but he didn’t want to stop looking at Keith, his grip on him getting even harder. His heart was beating so hard he couldn’t hear anything other than it.
When the red glowing stopped, Keith gasped, opening his eyes. He coughed, trying to sit, but Lance didn’t let him, still holding him, his mouth wide open. Keith turned his head to look at him, his eyes shining.
“Lance” he breathed.
“Keith, por Dios, don’t do this again” Lance was full on sobbing, going in for a hug. He could sense Red purring, a feeling of relief wash over them. He felt Keith’s breath on his neck get slower. “Hey, don’t... don’t go t-to sleep.”
Keith hummed in response, and Lance didn’t realise Red was flying again, too caught up in the feeling of Keith’s beating heart and his breath, his left arm wrapped around his waist.
* * *
Keith woke up from the pod a day later, Lance ready to catch him when he stumbled out of it. Everybody then swarmed around them, a group hug forming.
“Man, we were so worried, what happened?” Hunk said in between sobs.
“Kolivan’s going to kill me” Keith whispered, sitting with Shiro’s help, looking overwhelmed.
“No one’s killing everyone...” Allura assured him, putting a hand on his shoulder.
“Except us killing the Galra that burned down a village and almost killed you” Pidge added, arms crossed over her chest and a frown on her face.
“How did you end up on that house, Keith? Kolivan told us you had orders of evacuating the south with other Blades” Shiro asked, his voice waving.
Last night, when it was only the two of them watching over Keith’s pod, he had broken down. Lance had never seen Shiro so distressed, and he told him how Keith was the closest thing to family he had, a brother, and how his fiancée and him had been thinking of “adopting” him after getting married, but Kerberos had ruined that for them. Lance and Shiro hugged, and then Shiro has gone to sleep on Lance’s request. He was the only one that stayed next to Keith all the time he was on that pod.
“A woman told me that her children were still on her house, I had to try to get them out... They did, but I couldn’t get out on time, the roof went down...” Keith sighed, and Shiro nodded.
“Kolivan told us there were no casualties, you did the right thing... But you need to be careful next time.” Keith looked up at him, his expression unreadable. “Now, why don’t you go change? We’ll wait for you to eat something.”
They left, but Lance stayed.
“Do they know I...?” Keith couldn’t say it, but Lance understood. He sat next to him, his voice soft.
“I didn’t want them to worry, and I still don’t understand what happened... Red won’t talk to me...” Keith looked at him, his eyes sad. “Coran said something about Red using our quintessence to help you recover, and I guess that’s how she...”
“Thanks for saving me, Lance” Lance couldn’t look at him, but his eyes were glued to his. The sudden intimacy of knowing Keith had died in his arms hitting him.
“It was all Red, I didn’t...” he got cut off by Keith’s arms around him.
“I know Red helped, I felt her, but you did too... Lance, you saved my life.”
Lance couldn’t help but smile. “Next time, try not to be the hero, or not even Red will save you from me.”
* * *
When Shiro arrived looking for Keith, he chuckled, and left before he could wake them up. Kolivan didn’t need to know Keith wasn’t going back soon because he had fallen asleep in Lance’s arms.