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The Killing Moon

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Shiro doesn’t know Lance knows.

At least, Lance doesn’t think he does.

He’s pretty sure Shiro would have told him if he did. He’s that kind of guy - straightforward, honest. A true Alpha wolf.

That’s probably why Shiro has never noticed Lance. He isn’t exactly an Alpha wolf. Which is fine by Lance, he likes his position in his family’s pack. He doesn’t want to stink up every room he enters with heavy, virile Alpha pheromones anyway. His mild scent helps him fly under the radar. Makes him an effective hunter. Prey don’t hide from what they don’t know is coming.

He doesn’t think anyone else knows. Lance sure hasn’t told anyone and it’s not like wolves are common. Most packs have rules against telling nonshifters. Lance always figured he’d tell someone someday, if he ever got married or if he ever became important enough at the garrison.

He wonders if Shiro told anyone before the Kerberos mission. Maybe Commander Holt knows, or someone from medical.

For a while he’d assumed Keith knew. Keith always carries Shiro’s scent so strongly that for a brief time Lance had believed he was a wolf too. He’d trailed Keith for weeks trying to figure it out, back when they’d been in flight school together. By the end of it Lance was pretty sure Keith thought he was in love with him. Blaming it on a rivalry had been easier.

And despite how close Keith and Shiro are, after a few months on the ship together, Lance is positive Keith doesn’t know.

The way he looks at Shiro, a mixture of confusion and concern, whenever the older man is looking rough from moon sickness gives it away.

Those are the times when Lance wants to say something. To reach out and tell Shiro he understands, he’s feeling the same way. To bond over their shared struggles.

Being in space is difficult for a multitude of reasons.

Lance had gotten used to shifting frequently. At home he rarely went a day without. Reaching down into himself, a deep breath in through a soft human mouth – exhaled out past sharp teeth and lolling tongue. Sometimes he spent days as a wolf, sleeping on the beach, under the stars.

At the garrison, he’d been more restricted, but even then, he’d found a way to sneak out at least once a week. Bending up the corner of a fence during a field exercise, he’s used his sharp claws to dig a hole deep enough to slide under later that night. Running in the desert isn’t quite the same as the salty, brisk ocean air but it’s vast and open. He’d enjoyed marking his own territory for the first time, catching snakes and lean jack rabbits with savage pride.

In space, it’s different.

Lance hadn’t been sure how he’d manage it, when they first began their journey. While it was true he didn’t have to shift as often as he liked to, at least once every lunar cycle it was imperative that he do so. That alone had been worrying. Would the moons of other planets affect his biology? Would he need to shift more often? Could he get away with less? These were questions he’d never thought to ask his parents, lessons they’d never needed to teach.

After an intense bout of moon sickness, Lance eventually found a rhythm. He was lucky, in that his body stayed attuned to its regular twenty-eight-day cycle. And once a month like clockwork, Lance locks himself away in his room, the door blocked by his desk, as he curls up in bed, nose tucked under his tail.

Shiro, it seems, is not faring quite so well.

Lance knows the symptoms of moon sickness. He can recognize when another wolf is fighting their cycle, denying their biology by not shifting regularly.

Every month, Shiro seems to fight it, showing up to breakfast wan, with dark circles under his eyes. He’s tense, snapping at the others before apologizing, exhausted and exasperated. And every month, just when lance is going to throw in the towel, say fuck it and approach Shiro - tell him how god damn stubborn he is being - he gives in. He turns up the next morning relaxed and alert, looking amazing as usual.

Lance just doesn’t get it.

Why the struggle? Why fight it every month, just to give in?

Shiro is an Alpha wolf! It just doesn’t make sense.

Maybe that’s what it is. Shiro’s an Alpha, and Lance isn’t. He can’t understand the instincts that the older wolf is going through.

They’ve been in space for fourteen months and eleven days. And that is just as a team. Shiro has been in space even longer.

He wonders if Shiro has gotten the chance to run during that time. To embrace his basest instincts - his paws pounding against the ground, head thrown back in a howl, chasing the chatter of littler prey animals, the scent of their fear.

He can’t begin to imagine how Shiro must be feeling. It’s been fourteen months and thirteen days since Lance has last run, and it is slowly driving him up the wall.

Tonight, his room is dark. The round window next to his bed allows for the light of stars, but wherever the castle currently is in the universe, the stars are few and far between.

Pacing a circle around his room, the click-click-click of his claws against the metal floor, Lance longs to look outside and see the moon. His moon.

He whines, his ears lying flat against his head, before jumping up onto his bed. Digging gently at the sheets and blankets, he spins in a circle twice before laying down, his tail wrapping around him tightly, covering his nose. He takes up almost the entire bed.

Lance tries to sleep but his body is taut with adrenaline. This form is meant for running, hunting, fucking. His wolf wants nothing more than to embrace his basest desires and sleeping in a bed is at the bottom of his list.

Lance jumps up again, shaking himself roughly, trying to overcome his instincts. He jumps down to the floor, pacing a circle, once, twice, before nosing along the corners of his room. He scratches idly at the walls, at the desk blocking the door, at his paladin armor.

Circle, sniff, scratch. He follows this path for hours, pausing once to lift his leg and piss on the wall where his desk usually sits, before jumping back onto the bed.

He’s antsy. His thoughts are torn between Shiro and his family. He misses them so much. A wolf is nothing without their pack, and thoughts of them are usually enough to soothe his nervous energy. Tonight, it isn’t happening.

Shiro is a wolf without a pack and it shows.

He can’t help wondering if Shiro has ever had a pack, and if he has, what happened to them? Why does he fight his wolf so much? Why is the thought of Shiro in so much distress so hard for Lance to handle?

Maybe Lance has been without an Alpha for too long.

He drifts off to thoughts of Shiro and his pack.

+

Now and then, their cycles sync up.

If Shiro didn’t fight his cycle so much, Lance would delay his until it matched the Alpha. That’s how it’s supposed to go.

But with the way Shiro does, Lance can’t keep track.

This month, it seems they are close to syncing. Lance only knows this because at breakfast the next morning, Shiro is showing signs of moon sickness.

He sits at the table, holding a cup of tea, eyes red and unfocused. Lance’s face creases in concern when he sits down beside him and Shiro jumps slightly.

“Rough night?” He asks, as if he doesn’t know.

Shiro smiles, thought it isn’t particularly happy, and shakes his head.

“Weird dreams,” is all he offers.

Lance hums, reaching across the table to grab the loose tea leaves - Lance calls it tea, Allura has a weird, almost unpronounceable name for it - and throws them into his mug.

He looks at Shiro, as surreptitious as possible, and wonders what would happen if he leaned in. If he exposed his throat or rubbed his head underneath the bottom of Shiro’s chin or brushed his temple across Shiro’s clavicle - any one of the many ways for a lower wolf to appease an Alpha.

He wonders if Shiro would like it.

Shiro looks at him then, and Lance realizes he’s been staring. Caught out, he can do nothing but blush and look away.

It’s not the first time Shiro has caught Lance looking.

Allura interrupts Lance before he can do anything else awkward by joining them at the table. The other paladins are not far behind her.

“Good morning, everyone!” Her bright tone is a direct contrast to Shiro and Lance can’t help smiling at her cheer.

“Morning, Princess!” Lance calls, just as bright. Despite the turmoil of his thoughts the night before, shifting always leaves him refreshed and energetic.

The rest of the team are less than enthusiastic, but no one is on par with Shiro, who offers no one a greeting.

“I have good and bad news, which would you like first?”

“Bad,” Pidge and Keith say in unison, while at the same time Lance and Hunk ask for the good.

Allura grins and turns to Shiro for the tie breaker.

“Good, please.”

“We’re going to be grounded for probably the next pheeb, on a beautiful planet no less!”

“Is there a beach?” Lance asks excitedly, his mind already on the thought of cool, clear water and sandy shores.

“There is some water! But I don’t know that you’ll want to swim in it. Kito is known more for its gorgeous mountains and lush wooded areas. Best of all, it’s covered in snow!”

“Uhh, this is the good news?” Pidge asks, looking around at everyone else for support.

Hunk is clearly in agreement, his eyes shifty, his fingers steepled together. “Uhm, Princess? I’m from a tropical island, as is Lance. We don’t really do cold.”

And normally Lance would agree but he’s stuck on the idea of mountains and woods. That means running, hunting. It means shifting.

A quick peek at Shiro quickly confirms that he’s having the same thoughts. For the first time in a long time, Shiro looks excited.

He covers it quickly though. “What’s the bad news?”

Allura sighs. “We’re going to there to help facilitate a concordat with the coalition, and based on my experience with the Kitian people, we may be there awhile. Unfortunately the Kitians rely heavily on formal traditions and ceremony.”

“It’s a snooze fest,” Coran chimes in. Coming from him, that means something.

Allura throws him a look before continuing. “On the bright side, you’ll have plenty of free time to relax and indulge in a new culture! Think of it as a working vacation.”

Her smile is bright, and Lance matches her watt for watt.

He spends the rest of breakfast listening to Pidge, Hunk and Keith debate the merit of snow.

Risking one more glance at Shiro, Lance finds him smiling.

+

Lance visited Arizona once, to see extended family. It was summer, and he’d packed like it – nothing but short shorts and tank tops to try and beat the scorching heat.

What he hasn’t accounted for was the cold. His cousins lived high in the mountains, and Lance distinctly remembers the hours long car trip up steep cliff sides, the temperature dropping steadily the entire way.

When they’d reached the top, the snow was hip deep, and Lance was freezing his balls off. He borrowed clothes from his cousin, but he’d still spent most of the visit as a wolf. Thick fur was the best defense against the chill.

Kito reminds Lance a lot of that trip.

After landing the castle ship safely in a valley, they’re greeted by the Kitians, a species that could give Lance a run for his money in regard to fur. Covered from head to toe, the Kitians look a lot like bears, but with round faces and rosy cheeks.

They’re ushered into a narrow tram and then driven up the steep cliff side. Lance is having flashbacks of Arizona the entire time.

“Once we reach the top, I’ll be guiding you through a tour of the Navaar, and the ceremonial lodge where we’ll hold the treaty discussions.” Their guide, Lusha, is about Pidge’s height, with silvery grey fur. Lance imagines they blend into the snow well.

“And we’ll get started on that tonight?” Shiro asks.

Lusha laughs. “Oh no, we would never rush you so! Tonight will be the celebratory welcome feast! Discussions won’t begin until after the second full moon sets, which should be in the next four quintents.”

Allura looks back at Shiro, nice attempt, clearly written on her face.

He shrugs, looking back out the window. From his seat, Lance can see the reflection of Shiro’s face in the glass. His eyes are hungry as they scan the open woods.

Lance wants to howl in sympathy.

The place they’re staying is nice. It’s a lot like a palace, if palaces were made of stone and wood and antlers. Lances eyes the mounted animals on the wall with glee. These woods are ripe for hunting.

Lusha calls it the Navaar, which they explain is the home of the royal family and their court. After a quick tour they show everyone to their rooms, with a reminder for the welcoming feast later.

“Feel free to enjoy some of that downtime I promised!” Allura tells them, she seems equally as eager to get out and stretch her legs.

Everyone drops their stuff off and heads outside. With how much time they all spend together in close quarters, Lance is always surprised by the fact that in situations like these, the paladins still tend to stick together.

Pidge is the last to drop her stuff, and they all wait outside her room until she’s done.

Finally unencumbered, Lance looks around eagerly, before running towards the staircase that leads outside.

“Time to show you kids what a snowball fight looks like!”

Keith is right behind him. “You’re from Cuba Lance, what do you know about snow!”

Shockingly, Shiro is the first one to make it outside, and everyone watches in awe as he throws himself backwards into a snowbank like a starfish.

Lance is laughing so hard at the sight that he doesn’t even see the snowball Keith throws before it smacks him directly in the face.

“Hey!”

He retaliates quickly, hiding behind Hunk as he packs snow tightly in his hands. Despite his claims, Lance has spent very little time in the snow and his snowball is less than effective.

Keith barks a laugh and throws one back, before turning on Pidge, who is attempting to sneak up behind him.

Lance is taking the opportunity to work on his snowball skills when he’s hit in the face again with the perfect ball.

Shocked, he looks up in the direction that it came from to find Shiro watching him, face split in a grin.

“What!”

Shiro laughs. “I come from the snow. This is my element.”

“Oh, it is so on, Shirogane!”

They fight until they’ve cleared a patch of snow outside of the front of the Navaar.

Hunk begins a snowman and enlists the help of Keith and Pidge, who keeps adding sticks to create extra arms.

Lance wanders over to Shiro, whose laying on his back in the snow, moving his arms and legs back and forth.

“I hate to tell you, but your angel looks more like a blob,” Lance informs him from above.

Shiro doesn’t answer, but reaches over lightning fast to make a snowball, launching it into Lance’s stomach.

“Oof!” Lance pretends to stagger, before actually stumbling down to sit next to Shiro.

He’s soaking wet, but it doesn’t seem to have fully penetrated the weird snow gear they’ve all donned.

“I love being outside,” Shiro says, and it seems almost like a confession.

Lance looks at him and tries to put all of his feelings into his reply. “Me too.”

Shiro glances over and for a split second, he thinks Shiro knows. Thinks he’s about to say something, do something that would reveal what he is.

But at quick as he thinks that, Shiro looks away. Lance tries not to deflate.

“So you’re from the snow?”

Shiro hums and sits up, bracing his hands on his knees.

“Yeah, Northern Japan. My family ran a hot spring.”

Honshu. Lance remembers it from the shifter stories passed down through his family. The Honshu are the only wolf clan in Japan, and most likely where Shiro’s blood comes from.

“That’s awesome! Did you grow up there? I’d love to visit a hot spring.” This is the most personal information Shiro has ever offered and Lance can’t help babbling. He wants to ask more. He wants to know everything about Shiro.

Lance isn’t sure if it’s because he so excited to be around another wolf or if it’s something else.

“They’re definitely something everyone should experience.” Shiro’s smile is soft, like he’s remembering something fondly.

“Well maybe you can take me one day,” Lance says, surprising even himself.

Shiro’s eyebrows go up. “Yeah?”

Lance can feel himself blushing. “Then I can show you the beaches in Cuba.” And introduce you to my pack. “So you can compare.”

Shiro’s laugh is soft and melodic and Lance is struck by how little he hears it.

“That would be pretty cool, Lance.” It sounds like he really means it.

“I’ll put that on my back-to-earth list. Right behind eat a cheeseburger.”

Shiro laughs again and Lance feels the warmth of pride settle in his chest.

+

Kito has long nights.

The celebration feast lasts hours, and by the end Lance is practically vibrating with the desire to shift. The knowledge that it’s going to happen, that he’ll actually have the opportunity to run just as soon as everyone else has cleared out, is intoxicating.

A furtive glance at Shiro tells Lance he’s feeling the same.

The feast goes on for so long that Lance worries the sun will be coming up any minute, until a helpful Kitian informs him that the first of Kito’s three moons has barely crested.

Finally, finally, the party ends and the paladins are all ushered to their respective rooms. Lance runs to the window to check the distance to the ground. It’s far, but in his wolf form it will be easy – to say nothing of the deep snowbank cushioning his fall.

He paces around the room before stripping off his clothes, throwing them haphazardly over furniture. Checking the door, he’s pleased to see that it locks. It would be hard to explain if Hunk or Keith came inside to find the room empty and the window thrown open. Luckily years of sharing a ship has taught the other paladins that he’s a heavy sleeper – no one will think twice if they knock and receive no reply.

Lance moves to the window again, leaning outside to scan for anyone who might see him. It’s dark and quiet, but he’s still wary. The feast only ended an hour ago, not everyone has gone to sleep yet – he can still hear movement from within the Navaar.

He recalls the vague sense of caution that often echoed through the psychic link shared by his pack – his parents thoughts bleeding over to everyone else.

Eventually he shifts, pacing on four legs instead of two. The room is a riot of unfamiliar smells and Lance takes some time to sniff it all out, rubbing his head against the chair and bed, marking his scent. It’s not as effective as pissing in the corners would be, but he holds back through a tenuous sense of propriety.

Finally, he can hear no other noise beyond the howling wind outside his room. Moving to the window, Lance braces his front paws on the sill, looking outside. His ears flick forward at the sound of little animals scurrying through the trees, his hackles beginning to rise at the mere thought of a hunt.

In this form his vision is far superior, and when his sharp eyes detect no movement before the tree line, Lance finally jumps.

It’s a clean jump, but it’s still far, and Lance feels the impact in his joints despite the soft snow.

Still, the second he’s on the ground he can’t help rolling around, crusting his fur in ice before shaking it out, his caramel colored strands standing on end. He yips with joy.

He’s about to move, shifts back on his haunches to jump the tall bank and head into the forest when he hears it.

A howl.

Low and long, it sends a shiver down Lance’s spine, relaxing his muscles until he’s dipping down just a bit in submission.

It’s an Alpha’s howl and despite having no knowledge of the wildlife on this planet, Lance knows it’s Shiro.

It sounds far away but that does nothing to deter Lance, who darts into the trees towards the source of the howl. He’s not sure what he’ll do when he finds Shiro, if he’ll even approach him, but he wants to find him. Wants desperately to see him, to see his wolf form, to finally know what Shiro looks like as he was meant to be – in his true, natural state.

His legs are burning from years of lack of exercise, and he’s panting far heavier than he ever would have been from the short distance he’s traveled. Despite this, Lance is euphoric. The forest is beautiful, and he takes vicious glee in being able to trample the pristine snow, leaving his mark – and scent – in a way that pleases something deep and instinctual within him.

Occasionally he catches movement out of the corner of his eye, something small and scared running for safety at the smell of a predator. His wolf drive implores him to give chase but he’s on a mission.

It isn’t long before he smells Shiro. His Alpha scent is strong even in human form, so Lance isn’t surprised that now it practically blankets everything else. Claw marks through bark let him know he’s close. Lance puts his nose to the ground and lets it guide him.

He comes across a dark spray of urine against the base of a tree and Lance yips when he realizes that it’s still warm. Shiro is somewhere close.

Lance’s ears perk up at a crunching noise to his left. Before he even has time to turn, a razor-sharp cry tears through the air and a massive weight barrels into his side, rolling him through the snow.

He struggles to orient himself, growling and snapping blindly. He’s so used to being the biggest predator that sometimes he forgets they’re in space. That they’re on an alien planet and there are actual aliens.

Finally, he’s able to get his feet underneath himself and Lance barely has time to take in the dozens of beetle black eyes or the frankly horrifying set of teeth, dripping with saliva, before the creature lunges again.

Lance drops low before he leaps up, sinking his teeth into the closest approximation of a neck he can find. He locks his jaw, trying to dig through the thick fur, when the creature rears back, standing on its four back legs. With its front two, it swipes at Lance, knocking him loose.

He hits the ground with a yelp before jumping back up, lowers his head to protect his own neck, and unleashes the harshest warning growl he can manage. His lips are pulled back, baring his teeth, and Lance knows from experience how frightening he can look like this.

But unfortunately, his aggressor is undeterred, raising up even higher, its back legs bearing its entire weight in an effort to look intimidating.

And it is.

Lance is a hunter, but wolves are pack animals. Something this size would be feasible if he had others on his side.

At this point his only option is to attempt escape.

Head still lowered to the ground, he moves his rear paw back a step.

Lance can see the second he fucked up.

The creature interprets his retreat as weakness – and maybe it is – and with that same chilling yowl lunges forward.

Lance braces himself for the attack, too scared to turn around and risk exposing his back, but a snarling growl from behind him has him whipping around anyway.

Something huge and black bounds over him, slamming into the creature.

Lance has a sudden flash of realization – Shiro – and without thinking darts behind the creature, leaping onto it’s back.

Lance realizes right away why the creature was so adamant to tower over him, the fur on its back is barely thicker than a house cats, and Lance’s teeth sink into the flesh like butter.

The hot spray of blood, odd tasting but still somehow familiar, floods over his tongue and teeth. If he were human he would moan, but as it is he merely clamps down harder, shaking his head with a growl.

Shiro clearly has had more luck with his front than Lance had. The defenders of their packs, Alphas teeth are larger and sharper, better equipping them to handle an attacker.

When the flesh in his mouth gives, Lance releases its neck, jumping down to nip sharply at its back legs, ripping into its muscle.

The creature swipes uselessly at Shiro, before falling down onto all six legs. The Alpha wolf finally releases him, only to dig into the other side of its neck and pully sharply.

Lance can actually hear the way its flesh rends, Shiro tossing his head back to rip the creatures throat out. Dark blood pours into the snow, melting it.

It’s still alive but the threat has been neutralized, its life slowly draining out into the snow.

Lance huffs, releasing all of the tension cause by his fight or flight instincts, when a growl at his side brings it all right back.

He whips his head to the side, alarmed, to see Shiro bearing down on him, his lips pulled back to show vicious teeth.

Shiro is huge. Even for an Alpha wolf – he’s far bigger than Lance’s mother or his brother Luis, the Alphas in their pack – and Lance has a wild thought – are all Honshu this big? – before another growl snaps him back to the present.

It’s a posturing growl, deep and chilling, meant to incite submission, and it works like a charm.

Lance’s ear go flat against his skull and his chest drops to the snow, tail tucked between his legs protectively.

The growling never lets up as Shiro steps closer, hovering over Lance, caging him between his paws. Lance wants to look, wants to see Shiro, but he knows better.

Shiro seems to like what he sees, and steps back a little bit, giving Lance enough space to roll slightly, tilting his head back to expose his neck.

Lance can actually see the way the other wolf startles, shocked at Lance’s gesture. Lance is almost as surprised.

To submit like this, to a wolf outside of his pack, it’s unheard of.

But this is Shiro. A paladin of Voltron. They’re already family in that realm of their lives, and Lance is struck by a fierce desire for it to extend here as well.

He waits, prostrate and nervous, for Shiro’s response.

After enough hesitation that Lance starts to flush from rejection, Shiro leans down, sniffing at his throat. He noses up at Lance’s ears, lifting them as if to say that’s enough before licking across Lance’s muzzle and sitting back in the snow.

Lance yips, and still low to the grown, finally looks up.

Shiro is completely black, except the shifter-gold ring of his irises. Lance had wondered if the white hair he’d gained from his time with the Galra would translate to his fur and is oddly happy to see that it didn’t. That they couldn’t get to this form.

A brief glance down has him retracting that statement. His right flank leads down into the same Galra prosthetic he always wears. It’s a paw, with sharp claws, an exact match of his own.

Did the Galra know about Shiro’s wolf form? Is that why his prosthetic shifts? Lance has only seen it as the sharp blade Shiro sometimes uses in close combat, he’d never even considered what happened to it when Shiro shifted.

Maybe that was why he rarely did…

Lance whines low in his throat, pressing his nose into the snow, ears against his head again.

Shiro growls, short and nonthreatening, before leaning down to nip at Lance’s ears.

It’s such a sweet, affable gesture, Lance can help rolling fully onto his back, legs stretched out and tongue lolling.

Shiro circles him, sniffing his fur, nosing at his paws and crotch, before jumping backwards. He drops down on his front paws, tail wagging and yips.

Lance twists around, jumping up to join Shiro, who is bounding through the snow, pouncing at Lance playfully. Shiro’s heavy tail whacks Lance in the head a few times, prompting Lance to turn and grab it between his teeth.

Shiro yelps and pulls, but Lance holds on, cheerful, happy growls pouring from his throat. Shiro almost seems to roll his eyes before he’s circling around to grab at Lance’s tail. Lance catches on fast and tries to tuck it between his legs but Shiro is too quick and has it between his teeth before he can blink.

They circle each other like a wolfish ouroboros, trading growls without heat, before Lance snorts and lets him go. He’s never going to outdo an Alpha, and he doesn’t want to damage their new dynamic by inadvertently challenging Shiro.

Shiro lets his tail go and shoves his head between Lance’s legs, forcing him up and forward. Lance stumbles, turning back to Shiro with wide eyes, surprised to see Shiro’s tongue hanging out in happiness, before the other wolf leans down to repeatedly nip his flank.

Lance doesn’t need a psychic link to understand him. Everything on Shiro’s face says go, run.

It’s what Lance has been dreaming of since Allura told them about this planet.

He tosses his head back in a short howl, then turns and takes off. Shiro doesn’t immediately follow and Lance almost pauses before Shiro’s howl pierces the whipping wind.

He’s at his back in no time, running in front of him, setting the pace and the trail. Lance is more than happy to follow, soaking in the smell of Shiro’s unadulterated wolf scent.

When something darts away from them, Lance finally gives into instincts and tears forward, snatching it up in his jaws. It’s no bigger than a rabbit, and one sharp shake of Lance’s head has its spine snapping.

Shiro turns around and comes over, and Lance is quick to drop the animal at his feet, pride suffusing his chest with warmth as the Alpha wolf sniffs it.

They don’t know if it’s safe to eat, per se, but shifter stomachs are strong and generally they can smell if something is potentially toxic. Luis’ Alpha nose had saved Lance’s stomach from potential food poisoning more than once.

Shiro seems to approve and holds it down with one paw before wrenching the animal apart with strong jaws.

Lance waits his turn and is shocked when Shiro places the bloody meat in front of him.

Shiro looks down at it then back up at Lance, encouraging.

Lance pauses, out of depth. Shiro, an Alpha wolf, is giving him the first piece – a gesture reserved for the Luna wolf. The Alphas mate.

Shiro stamps his paw into the snow, impatience obvious.

Maybe Shiro doesn’t know the significance of this gesture. Maybe his pack had different customs.

Shiro huffs, licking at his teeth, and there’s a low, irritated growl building in his throat.

Finally, Lance gives in, sinking down to rip into the little bloody animal. It’s already growing cold from the snow and Lance regrets how long he spent deliberating.

Shiro huffs again, this time with approval, before moving over to the other half, crouching down to eat it.

Lance’s stomach is filled with butterflies and it’s not from the oddly sweet tasting meat.

He can’t help watching Shiro, observing the way he dives in, devouring his meal in merely three bites, swallowing the smaller bones and leaving only the spine.

He feels a flush across his skin, his fur puffing up in excitement as Shiro’s broad tongue licks over his teeth and nose.

Shiro finally looks over and Lance feels like he’s in a spotlight. He remains still as the massive Alpha makes his way over and leans down, lapping the blood from Lance’s muzzle.

When Lance is finally clean – and his dick is partially unsheathed, though he prays to god Shiro doesn’t notice – Shiro nips him again, urging him up.

He follows Shiro for hours, bounding through the snow, past gigantic trees. When Lance pauses to lift his leg on one, Shiro is quick to circle behind him, immediately covering Lance’s piss with his own.

If Lance could roll his eyes, he would. Alphas.

Lance is only slightly sad when he sees the third moon begin its decent. The thought that he’ll get to see Shiro during the day – and actually talk to him – coupled with the knowledge he’ll get to do this again tomorrow night, and hopefully every night they’re on this planet, helps him make peace with the idea of going back to the Navaar.

Shiro starts to head that way and Lance remains on his tail. It isn’t until they’re about ten minutes from the Navaar that something weird happens.

Shiro stops, and Lance only barely manages not to careen into him. He turns and looks at Lance, getting close enough to nose at his throat and lick across his head and muzzle.

The butterflies are back, and Lance can feel his tail swaying.

Finally, Shiro steps back and jerks his head down, gesturing for Lance to lay down. Confused, Lance does, ears perked in curiosity when he sees Shiro step back again. He starts to stand and Shiro growls, warningly.

Lance whines, pressing his nose to his paws, his ears flat against his skull.

Shiro stops growling, and he almost seems guilty, when he takes a step back again.

Lance watches him as he turns around and starts to head back to the Navaar, before standing up and trotting slowly behind.

He’s shocked when Shiro whips around, lunging for him. This time his growl is less of a warning and more of a threat.

Lance immediately drops down, showing his throat again. He whines when Shiro noses at him, nipping his ears, before turning around and leaving.

Lance is stunned.

Shiro doesn’t want me to follow him…

Was he worried Lance was going to see him shift back? Was this his way of saying that he didn’t want a repeat of this night? Or that he wouldn’t acknowledge it tomorrow, in their human forms?

Rejection, and not a little bit of sorrow, burns up his throat.

Why is Shiro so weird about everything? It’s so incredibly frustrating! They’d had so much fun tonight, Lance thought. Shiro had given him the first kill…

Maybe that doesn’t mean to the Honshu was it does to Lance’s clan.

It probably doesn’t. Lance feels so stupid. What was he thinking, that Shiro likes him? That now that he knows they’re both shifters, they’ll what, mate and form a pack?

Ridiculous.

Lance is being ridiculous.

After more than enough time passes, Lance follows Shiro’s trail back to the Navaar.

With more trouble than he’d had getting out, Lance manages his way back through his window. The floor is soaked underneath the sill from being open all night.

Lance shifts back, more than a little melancholy, and climbs into the shower.

He pauses before flipping the tap. He’s saturated in Shiro’s scent. If Lance closes his eyes, he would have thought the other wolf was in the shower with him, the aroma is so strong.

Lance flushes at the thought, picturing Shiro in the shower with him. He feels the blood rush downward, his soft cock stirring and before it can go any further, he reaches out and turns the water on.

Lance imagines that he can see Shiro’s scent sluicing off of him, running down his body before it circles the drain and disappears as if it had never been there.

+

He sleeps late. They don’t have any official plans, and Lance is shattered from the night before.

He can’t help feeling like he wouldn’t feel quite so shitty if the last hour of his night hadn’t occurred but he’s trying not to be petty about it.

Shiro doesn’t owe him anything.

When he finally pries himself out of bed, Lance wanders down to the lower level of the Navaar, positive he remembers something about a kitchen somewhere from Lusha’s tour.

He follows what he hopes is the smell of food into a large room that does indeed turn out to be the kitchen. It’s full of Kitians hustling back and forth as they prepare the evening meal. No one acknowledges or even seems to notice him, and he’s about to give up and leave when Shiro calls out to him from behind.

Lance spins, eyes wide, to find Shiro sitting at a round table in a nook in the wall. It’s piled with baskets of food Lance has never seen, but is excited about – after the feast last night, he has confidence in the Kitians’ culinary skills and if he never sees food goo again it will be too soon.

Shiro’s smiling at him as he shoves something big and soft into his mouth.

He looks good. Like, really good. Clearly a night spent running and hunting was exactly what Shiro needed for a healthy glow. Even his eyes are bright.

Lance, on the other hand, is more than aware of the fact that he looks like twice warmed shit. If he didn’t know better, he’d think it was moon sickness, but it’s practically the opposite.

Shiro waves him over, and Lance goes warily, accepting the soft bread like item Shiro hands him.

He sits down slowly, mindful of sore muscles, and tries not to look at Shiro.

If he doesn’t want to talk about it then fine, whatever. It’s not like they’re packmates or some shit like that.

Lance rubs at his chest to soothe away the pang.

“That roll thing you’re eating is delicious, but the real star of the show is this.” He slides a bowl towards Lance, who looks at it uncomprehendingly.

Shiro senses his hesitancy and his voice softens when he asks. “Rough night?”

Lance mouth drops open as Shiro echo’s back his own words from only a week ago.

“Uhh, kind of?”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Shiro says, and he sounds genuine. “At least you can take the day to relax.” He smiles warmly, and Lance’s eyebrows shoot up. What the fuck?

“Well you seem chipper,” Lance can’t keep the derision out of his voice. “Sleep well, did ya?”

It’s Shiro’s turn to raise his eyebrows, obviously surprised at Lance’s clipped words.

“I did, actually,” he offers gently. “I went to bed early. Got a good night’s sleep.”

Is Shiro legitimately lying to his face right now? Does he think if he pretends like it didn’t happen hard enough, Lance will go along with it?

Lance opens his mouth, ready to lay into the man across from him, when Shiro looks up and smiles at him again. It’s so soft and warm, it kicks up those same god damn butterflies.

But that’s not what stops him.

It’s his eyes.

Lance takes one look in his eyes and comes to the astonishing realization: Shiro doesn’t know.

He doesn’t know that the wolf he ran with last night is sitting across the table from him, that it’s his fellow paladin, that it’s Lance. And why would he know? Lance had never given Shiro any hint that he was a shifter.

And it’s not like Lance’s wolf form has any distinguishing markings that would give him away. His fur doesn’t even match his hair. Caramel instead of chocolate, dark paws and face. Rachel once told him he looks like a cross between a German Sheppard and a raccoon.

Lance’s stomach sinks.

This was why Shiro didn’t want Lance to follow him the night before. He was trying to keep the other wolf away from the Kitians. Away from his friends. Because while he knows the other shifter is a wolf like him, he doesn’t know that they’re friendly towards nonshifters.

Lance leans back in his seat, suddenly exhausted.

Mother fucker.

Shiro is watching him, concern evident. “Maybe you should go lay back down?”

For a second, Lance thinks about telling him. Just throwing it all out on the table, finally getting it off his chest after all of these years of traveling together. All these years of Lance knowing.

But then he remembers Shiro the night before. The open, easy going excitement. The way he’d yipped and played, nuzzling and grooming Lance. Treating him like his mate.

Would Shiro have done all of that if he’d known the other wolf was Lance?

Miserably, Lance thinks that he wouldn’t have.

Shiro was the consummate leader, strong and trustworthy, a pillar for the other paladins – despite everything he had been through. And while he was close with all of them, Keith especially, he always held himself at just a slight distance.

And another, more selfish part of Lance, worries that if he tells Shiro and he freaks out, they won’t get to repeat last night.

And Lance wants that more than anything.

“Yeah, maybe I’ll do that,” Lance sighs, grabbing the pale blue oblong food from the bowl. It’s as good as Shiro said it would be.

+

Lance sleeps the rest of the day. It’s the only way to stop himself from sitting around fretting until nightfall. Even then, it’s hours until Lance can no longer hear people moving around the Navaar. He’s more anxious tonight than the one before.

He wonders if Shiro is already out there. He’d been deep in the forest by the time Lance had ventured out.

Listening for any howling, Lance shifts and bounds through the window, landing face first in the show. It takes some wriggling to extracts himself but finally he’s free, running towards the trees.

He picks up Shiro’s scent quickly, more familiar with it now. Not only that but it’s heavier, with more trees clawed.

Leaving a trail.

Lance’s heart pounds with the knowledge that Shiro wants the other wolf to find him. He couldn’t help worrying, even after everything. The way they’d ended the night before had been less than ideal.

He’s getting close, the scent is stronger, more urine than is really necessary to mark territory. Lance huffs. It’s cute. Shiro is risking all kinds of predators so that Lance can find him more easily.

He’s tearing through the forest, practically flying, when something slams into him. He feels a flash of fear, the memory of the giant creature still fresh in his mind, before the very scent he’s been tracking penetrates his senses.

Lance and Shiro tumble through the snow in a tangle of paws and tails, Lance yipping happily the entire time.

When they’re finally still, Shiro hovers over him, leaning down this lick at his throat, rubbing his ears against Lances to spread his scent.

It’s a much more heavily aggressive scenting than before and Lance feels warm at the gesture.

Shiro may not be into Lance but his wolf definitely is.

Lance rolls onto his back, giving Shiro better access, luxuriating in the cossetting of an Alpha. Eventually Shiro steps back and jerks his head up. Lance takes his cue, rolling onto his paws and bounding into a snow bank.

He looks back to see Shiro watching him, tongue out and eyes bright. Lance lowers his chest to the ground, keeping his ass up, tail held high. Eyes still on Shiro he shakes his hips back and forth and yips. He watches with glee as Shiro’s golden eyes practically glow and he releases a lusty growl.

Yipping again, Lance takes off.

Where before they had run together, exuberant and sociable – Shiro leading most of the way – tonight is a chase. A hunt.

Lance gives it his all, running as fast as he can, tearing through snow and over fallen trees. He can’t see Shiro when he looks back, but he can hear him, and he’s getting closer. Lance thanks his subtle scent – he knows Shiro will catch him, but he doesn’t want to make it easy.

He veers left, belly crawling under a tree trunk, bouncing from roots to roots to hide his tracks before he ducks down behind a massive rock, digging a divot big enough for him to hunker down in, hiding as well as possible.

He lifts his nose into the air, trying to pick up any trace of Shiro’s scent but the wind is blowing it away. Likewise, the only thing Lance can hear is the howling gale.

He waits, his nose buried in the snow, heart thundering in a mix of fear and anticipation.

When Shiro finds him it’s shocking. A high, piercing howl from right above his head, Lance actually jumps, before rolling over to see Shiro on the very rock he was using to hide.

He’s practically smirking when he jumps down, strolling over to Lance casually.

Lance’s heart is a hummingbird trapped in the cage of his chest. He’s panting, and it’s not from how hard he just ran.

Shiro is easily the most beautiful wolf Lance has ever seen. Fur darker than he thought possible, he practically disappears into the black sky from Lance’s vantage point underneath him. It makes it impossible to miss his heavy bright red cock, hanging low from its sheath.

Lance whines, squirming mindlessly. Shiro leans down, licking across Lance’s muzzle and tongue, nosing down his neck, nipping at his chest. He laps at his stomach, where the fur is sparse, his broad tongue warm and wet. Lance yelps at the first touch of a cold nose at his unsheathed dick.

It’s been years since Lance has mated in wolf form. It’s been years since he’s had sex at all, if he’s being perfectly honest.

The idea of it being Shiro is enough to make him come right there, and he shudders, his tail smacking at Shiro’s legs in its enthusiasm.

Shiro growls, and it’s a clearly sexual sound. Lance pants and thrusts upwards, his dick sliding through the air, wet and straining. Shiro rumbles again before he lays down, his wide chest pinning Lances tail. Lance spreads his legs as best he can, paws up in the air. Lance is about to start crying, little distressed yips are already bleeding into his panting breath, when Shiro gives in, running his warm, curling tongue from Lance’s balls to the tip of his dick.

Lance howls and Shiro growls louder, pressing against Lance’s flank with his paws. He licks again, this time in earnest, and doesn’t stop until Lance is writhing on his back, kicking his paws at the air uselessly.

Shiro’s mouth is so hot and wet, his crotch is covered in drool, and he’s going to come, Shiro is going to make him come—

And then he is, and it’s everything. The flood of endorphins has him relaxing back into the snow, his tongue hanging out. He barely even registers Shiro’s movement until the Alpha wolf is blanketing him, dropping low on his front paws, his hips humping against Lance’s stomach, dragging his cock through the drool and cum that is matting his fur.

He’s growling the entire time and when he comes it’s with a vicious snarling, teeth going to Lance’s neck to hold him still.

It’s unnecessary, Lance would rather light himself on fire than try to move away.

When Shiro releases his throat, he steps back and leans down, lapping up their shared release, across his stomach and balls and even lowers, just a light graze over his asshole. Shiro is grooming him. Like an Alpha would their Luna. Lance can barely hold himself still and the second he has room, he flips around, moving to return the favor.

Shiro’s knot is still swollen leaving everything exposed and Lance takes advantage of this chance to sniff and lick to his hearts content. Shiro’s scent is stronger here and Lance doesn’t even think before he’s rubbing his face and ears against his sex. Dousing himself.

Shiro finally huffs and leans down to nip him softly, before flopping onto his side in the snow. He’s panting, and his tongue is out, his paws stretched out in front of him. It’s an open, inviting position and Lance takes it for what it is, moving to lie beside him.

Lance relaxes back against the bigger wolf, who leans down to lick along his muzzle. His heartbeat is finally slowing down, and the after-glow is giving way to darker thoughts.

What will Shiro think when he finds out the wolf he just mated is Lance?

Was this a betrayal of Shiro’s trust? Lance tenses at the thought and Shiro sits up, whining in concern.

He should tell him. He should shift back right now, heedless of the snow, and confess.

That’s what a decent shifter would do.

A cold nose nudging at his face claims his attention and Lance turns, licking back.

A decent shifter would confess, but right now, Lance is not that shifter. He moves closer into Shiro’s space, pressing their bodies tightly together and snuffling into his throat. Lance tells himself that Shiro’s wagging tail makes all of this okay.

+

They run the next night, and the night after that. Lance is tired during the day but it’s worth it. On the fourth day the negotiations begin and Lance worries that Shiro, who is directly involved in the discussions, will be too tired to shift. But when Lance ventures out he finds the other wolf waiting for him.

They don’t run as far that night, but it’s okay because Shiro makes a point of giving him the first piece of their only kill.

Lance can still taste the blood on his muzzle when Shiro rolls him onto his back.

Hunk brings up the fact that Lance has been going to bed really early lately while they’re all crowded into the breakfast nook, and Lance chokes on his drink, hoping at least that his coughing explains away his red face.

Shiro doesn’t seem concerned and tells Lance he’s glad he’s sleeping better.

On the seventh night, they run into another creature. The same kind that tried to attack Lance the first night.

This one is smaller but the razor-sharp claws on its six legs more than make up for its size.

Lance spots it first, his eyesight keener, and he yips low in his throat, tossing his head in the direction of the clearing it’s in. Shiro picks up on his signals and motions for them to split up, circling around their prey.

This isn’t like the last time, now they have the advantage of surprise on their side.

Lance studies Shiro, watching for his cue, and drops low when he sees it, racing inward, snapping his jaws around the back of its leg. He’s already wrenching back, tearing muscle and tendon, when he smells the tangy spray of blood from where Shiro has gone for its throat.

The creature rears back but Lance is faster, jumping onto its back to sink his teeth into the soft part of its neck, shaking his head back and forth to pull.

By the time Lance tracks Shiro, who is ripping its throat out enthusiastically, the creature is dead, collapsed into the bloody slush beneath it.

Shiro looks up and catches Lance’s eye and before he knows it Lance has been pushed off the creature and into the snow. Shiro maneuverers him onto his side and wastes no time before shoving his nose in Lance’s crotch. Lance starts to roll further but a harsh growl from Shiro stills him and the Alpha wolf moves lower than his usual goal, licking firmly over his asshole, pushing with his tongue.

Lance is panting. Shiro’s drool is sliding down his balls and his tongue is working its way past the tight ring muscle, a little bit deeper with each pass. Once Lance is whining, squirming against the sensation of Shiro’s rough tongue at his most sensitive part, the Alpha wolf moves back, growling as he nudges at Lance’s flank.

Lance knows what’s about to happen and he pulse is racing, heart pounding. Shiro has never penetrated him before, this is something reserved for the Luna wolf, but it’s happening now, brought on by the glory of a massive kill.

Shiro mounts him, his paws pressing into Lance’s sides, his hips moving wildly, dragging his wet cock along Lance’s opening but never quite catching. A frustrated bark from Shiro has Lance lifting his hips, as much as Shiro’s weight will allow and finally the Alpha slides home.

Lance yelps, it doesn’t hurt but it’s a lot, and Shiro gives him zero time to adjust, fucking into him with abandon. Shiro’s making noises that Lance has never heard before, soft, yearning howls between excited yips. Lance is aching, his dick bobbing in the open air, wet and swollen. He needs friction, he’s so close to the ground, if he could just get lower.

A sharp growl draws his attention and Shiro bites at the scruff of Lance’s neck, holding him still as his knot swells. Lance is yowling like a cat in heat, his eyes rolling back at the feeling of being knotted by Shiro, and then he’s coming untouched, painting the snowy ground beneath them.

Shiro is still coming, the sensation of Lance’s body clutching at his knot drawing it out. He’s whining into Lance’s fur, still humping into him uselessly. Finally, he relaxes, unclenching his jaw and dropping his weight, pressing them both to the ground. Lance pulls, instinctual panic at being tied, and Shiro is quick to calm him, nipping at his ears and licking at the back of his head.

Lance wants to freak out, he’s tied to Takashi fucking Shirogane for god sake, but his body is exhausted. The thrill of adrenaline from their fight to Shiro mounting him has him beat.

Shiro is licking at his face, tongue flicking over his ears and muzzle lazily, cleaning off the blood but also just indulging him, babying him a little bit. Lance sighs, elated, and wallows in the warmth and scent of his Alpha.

+

When Lance wonders into the kitchen the next morning – noonish, whatever – he can tell immediately that something has happened. The Kitians are running around like usual but there’s none of the chatter he’s come to expect. If Lance had to guess, he’d say they look nervous.

Well, it’s not exactly like Lance has been paying a lot of attention to the negotiations… He’s kind of had other things on his mind.

The only other person in the breakfast nook is Shiro, which is odd because Lance is pretty sure he’s supposed to be with Allura and the Kitian delegates.

“Everything okay?” Lance asks, walking over. Shiro is still looking amazing. Apparently, the lack of sleep they’ve both been getting has little effect on him.

Lance sits down heavily, unthinking, and feels a twinge up his spine from the hard wood against his ass. He’s positive he doesn’t let it show on his face, but Shiro’s snaps over to him in concern. Lance raises his brows and Shiro shakes his head, clearly brushing away whatever weird thought he’d just had.

“I don’t know,” Shiro tells him. “I think something is going on with the Kitians, Allura said the discussions were on hold for today.”

The table is still covered in food, the Kitian chefs hold a level of personal pride that won’t be tempered by whatever is happen, but the tension in the room is high.

Grabbing what Hunk had referred to as an alien muffin Lance settles back, his thoughts already moving away from the Kitians and their predicament. He turns instead, to Shiro, observing him slowly eat as he watches the kitchen.

Last night… Lance flushes at the thought, and Shiro unexpectedly looks over. He looks at Lance, an intense, indecipherable expression and Lance swallows, suddenly nervous.

“What?” Lance even sounds nervous, great.

Shiro watches him for a moment but says nothing, looking away.

“I’m going to talk to Allura and find out what’s going on.”

Uncharacteristically, Lance is overcome with a need to know as well. He surprises them both when he tells Shiro he’s coming too.

The Navaar is huge but they only wander for a few minutes before they find Allura, who’s deep in conversation with Coran and their guide Lusha, who appears to be crying.

Lance is glad he’s with Shiro because he doubts Allura would have allowed him to interrupt if he’d come alone, but when she spots the black paladin, she waves them both over.

“Is everything okay?” Shiro asks, looking to Lusha with concern.

“I’m afraid not,” Allura tells them. “There has been a worrying series of attacks in the forest over the past few quintents. The Kitians have found the bodies of two endangered ursidae.”

Lance’s heart starts racing, and despite the chill, he feels sweat at his temples.

“They’re the largest predator on this planet,” Coran informs him. “So for something to kill them like this…it’s troubling.”

Lance can’t help looking to Shiro, who still looks composed and calm, as he asks for more information. Despite this, Lance can practically hear his heartbeat, which is a mirror to Lance’s own. He can feel the torrent of his emotions, most of them negative, swirling inside him.

Without thought, Lance starts to reach out, wants to place is hand on Shiro’s arm, anything he can do to comfort the Alpha when he pauses.

He can feel Shiro’s emotions.

Heat washes over Lance from head to toe and the ground tilts. He hears a sound he thinks might be Allura when a hand grabs his bicep and an arm wraps around his back.

Lance gasps, Shiro’s touch has unlocked a flood of feelings, chief amongst them is Lance’s fear, coloring everything else.

He yanks violently to get out of Shiro’s grasp and finds everyone watching him with wide eyes. Shiro’s face is nothing but polite concern.

Maybe he didn’t feel it. Or maybe he doesn’t know. Lance knows nothing of his experience with pack life, maybe Shiro’s never had that link with anyone.

Lance straightens up, laughing nervously. “Sorry, uh, I’m not feeling too well, I’m just gonna—" He gestures behind himself aimlessly. “Sorry to hear about, the uh, endangered…thing.”

Carefully not looking at Shiro’s face, Lance turns and actually runs.

Lance gets back to his room and slams the door. He moves to the window and closes that too, for the first time since arriving on Kito. Diving under the covers, Lance balls up in his bed and regroups.

He’d only felt flashes of emotion, and when they’d touched, the thoughts had been unclear.

Lance hasn’t much experience with burgeoning psychic links – when Marco got married and Lisa joined the pack. But that had been more seamless, and Lance had been a lot younger.

From what he knows, the link won’t finish connecting if they remain in human forms, but once they shift and it does solidify, it’s almost impossible to break.

If he doesn’t go near Shiro in wolf form again, then it will wane and eventually die. Lance just needs to avoid being around – and touching – him at all costs.

This is all his fault. If Lance hadn’t let himself hope—He’d wanted… But Shiro mounting him didn’t mean he wanted to mate him. It didn’t make him Lance’s Alpha by any means.

By the time Lance pokes his head out of the blankets, it’s dark outside, and the room is stifling. The urge to shift is simmering underneath his skin.

Outside the window he can see Kito’s three moons sitting high in the sky, it’s well past the time he normally sneaks out.

He wonders if Shiro is out there, or if the Kitians’ worries over the creatures they’d killed were keeping him in. Lance moves to the window and throws up the pane. Leaning outside, it is as silent as ever. Whatever the Kitians thinks might be out there, they’re too scared to investigate.

Lance scans the trees uselessly, there’s no chance Shiro will be near enough that he can see him. If he’s even out there. Maybe he’s figured out who the other wolf is… Lance is aware of the scene he’d caused earlier.

He’s still leaning out the window when he hears it – Shiro’s howl. It’s far away but even from where he is Lance can hear that it sounds…sad. His heart clenches and Lance releases a shuddering breath.

He can’t go. It could only take one more night together for the link to connect. And then Shiro would know who the other wolf is. He’d know Lance has been lying to him, has known about him for years and never said anything.

It’s too risky.

He just needs to cut it off now. It’s fine. Lance can go back to how things were before – only now with the intimate knowledge of Shiro. Of being scented by him, licking him, fucking him.

Oh god.

He is so screwed.

+

The next day, Shiro is on edge. The rest of the paladins think he’s worried over the ursidae slaughter, which is continuing to hold up coalition treaty discussions, but Lance knows better. His scent is almost stinging from anxiety.

Allura gathers them all together for the first time since they’d arrived.

“Well, as I’m sure you’ve all heard, there have been vicious attacks in the forest surrounding the Navaar recently,” her voice is very no nonsense.

“Uh… How vicious are we talking here?”

“Well, the ursidae are a very…fearsome animal, and whatever is out there now has killed at least two of them,” she tells Hunk.

“So we’ll go out and find it before it can kill anymore, right?” Keith voice suggests it’s the obvious next move.

“That’s right, you’ll head out this afternoon. I’d like you to go while there’s light out so you can look around but the ursidae are nocturnal so it’s likely whatever is killing them is as well.”

Not really, I’d much rather be sleeping by night and running by day.

Lance looks up suddenly. While his thoughts were of the same vein, that had not come from him.

Shiro is watching Allura, nothing about him could possibly suggest he’d just communicated with Lance through a psychic shifter link.

Lance looks away quickly and back to Allura. “Well, um, what if the thing we’re going after is endangered too?” He tries not to sounds too hopeful.

I mean, technically…

Shiro’s thoughts again, oh my god!

“That’s highly unlikely, the ursidae have no known predators and if they did, the Kitians would know about it.”

“Yeah Lance, I’m pretty sure the people from this planet have a better handle on what’s running through their forests than you do.” Pidge’s voice is cutting, and Lance feels a flash of irritation from Shiro.

Holy shit, this is getting crazy. How is the bond getting stronger? He didn’t run last night!

Does Shiro even know?

Lance risks a quick look left, but Shiro is looking down at his own hand, scratching at his cuticles.

There’s no way. Whatever is happening, it isn’t a normal link. If it were Lance would be able to see and feel everything – be able to reach into Shiro’s mind and examine every memory or thought he’s ever had.

Allura finishes going over the plans while Lance continues to have an existential crisis.

Shiro pays him no more attention than usual.

Before he knows it, he’s out in the snow, dressed in Kitian snow gear and surrounded by the other paladins. They’re spread out but not so far that Lance can’t see them in his peripheral.

He walks around aimlessly, looking at the trees and snowbanks. This whole thing is pointless, there are no predators out here big enough to take down a ursidae besides Shiro and Lance, but it’s not like they can say that.

A shout from Pidge draws his attention and the paladins head her way.

“Look at this,” she points towards a tree that’s practically mauled. Lance has never seen it before, but he can recognize the clawing of a wolf.

Shiro must have been upset last night.

“That could be from the ursidae,” Lance suggests.

“No, I found fur stuck in some of the gouges. It’s nothing like the fur from the ursidae the Kitians showed me.”

Of course they did, Pidge was too inquisitive for her own good.

“Well it sounds like we need to be on the lookout for something with black fur,” Shiro says and turns to walk away.

Lance finds himself unconsciously waiting for the ping of Shiro’s thoughts but it’s silent. He hates himself for feeling disappointed.

They continue through the forest. Lance is thankful for the snow, which has covered up their tracks and any hints of their hunting. The trees are still exposed though, and the other paladins get very excited every time they see the marks from Shiro. Lance almost feels bad.

“Let’s split up again guys, we can cover more ground that way.”

Shiro’s suggestion is a welcome relief. Pretending to search is harder than actually searching, and he’s sure Shiro would agree.

Lance heads into the snow, aimless. Everywhere smells like Shiro. They’d torn through this entire forest, killing and fucking the whole way. He follows a trail unthinkingly and before he knows it, finds himself in the clearing where they’d killed the second ursidae. Where Shiro had mounted him, covered in its blood.

Lance shivers.

A crunching sound on his right draws his attention and Lance spins, startled.

Shiro is standing there, watching him.

“Find anything?” His voice is odd…low, almost growly.

Lance fights the urge to look down. “N-no, just uh, more snow,” he laughs.

Shiro narrows his eyes and Lance feels a flash of…something. He holds his position as Shiro steps closer, never breaking eye contact.

Everything in Lance says look down, look down, but he ignores it. Giving into wolf instincts will give him away, he’s sure of it.

“This is a big forest,” Shiro says, moving directly into Lance’s space. “Why did you come this way?”

He’s looking directly into Lance’s eyes and Lance can almost see the ring of gold in the irises.

“I—I was just wandering,” Lance tries to still the trembling in his thighs.

“It seemed like you were headed somewhere specifically.”

Lance touches the back of his neck, laughing nervously. “You were following me?”

“Yes, I was,” Shiro steps forward and Lance takes one back automatically.

He swallows heavily. Shiro’s scent is getting stronger, it’s so dominating, Lance’s knees are going to give out. It takes Lance a minute to realize what’s happening, he’s never experienced it before.

He’s forcing me to shift, Lance thinks, his breath catching.

The second the thought floats through his head, Shiro’s eyes flash and he grabs the front of Lance’s jacket. The scent of dominating Alpha is overwhelming, and Lance can feel his influence – Shiro’s doing something only an Alpha wolf is capable of and Lance is powerless to stop it.

He can feel it beneath his skin, he’s seconds from shifting.

“P—please,” he whines. “I’ll tear my clothes…”

It’s a confession and it’s enough for Shiro to cut off his influence, releasing Lance’s jacket and stepping back.

His eyes are wide, and Lance finally gives into the urge to look down, trying to make himself as small as possible.

“It’s you,” disbelief rings through Shiro’s voice. “You’re the other wolf.”

Lance nods but doesn’t say anything.

“You’re a shifter!”

Lance nods again and finally looks up. Shiro’s face in incredulous.

“And you knew it was me…”

Lance lets his silence speak for him.

Shiro’s eyes narrow. “How long?”

Lance winces. “Since before. At the Garrison…”

Shiro scoffs, throwing his hands up. “And you never said anything?”

Lance is trembling. “I didn’t—” He looks away. “There was so much going on, in the beginning, and you—you were always with Keith, and then—you were constantly moon sick, you never shifted! And I thought—I don’t know, maybe you would be upset if I brought it up…”

Shiro’s face is unreadable and it’s killing Lance. He reaches out through the tentative bond and Shiro flinches.

“Don’t.”

Lance wants to cry. This is not how this was supposed to happen! If only he could go back, if only he hadn’t mated with Shiro, he knew the other wolf would hate him when he found out, what had he been thinking!

“I’m so sorry, I—”

There’s a shout from their left, so faraway it barely carries over the wind, but their heightened sense of hearing catches it and both of their faces snap towards it.

Shiro gives him one last look before he starts running towards the sound, Lance right behind them.

Lance smells it before he sees it. An ursidae, the biggest they’ve seen.

“I thought they were nocturnal?” Lance asks.

“The sun is almost fully gone.”

It’s true. Lance hadn’t even been aware of how dark it had gotten, the sun almost completely hidden and one of the moons already well above the horizon.

They reach it to find the other paladins within its range, Keith has his Blade drawn and the others are wielding their bayards.

“We can’t kill it,” Shiro shouts, but he’s pulling out his bayard as well.

“Tell it that!” Keith yells back, his grip on his sword tightening.

Lance has yet to move any closer, scanning the surroundings. His hunting instincts are at the forefront after a week’s worth of kills. He thinks about the tactic he and Shiro had used when they took down the second one.

He needs to come at it from the back, get its attention and draw it away from the other paladins.

The ursidae is distracted, its focus on the four in front of it, so Lance uses the opportunity to back up, running through the trees until he’s directly behind it.

Now that he’s there, he doesn’t have a lot of options. He’s holding his deactivated bayard, but it’s not like he can just shoot it. The Kitians have made it clear they care about these horrifying, aggressive beasts.

Lance looks around until he spots a stick, and hefts it up, weighing it in his hands. It’s heavy, but not enough to do any serious damage.

He can hear the other paladins, but he can’t make out what they’re saying. He wishes briefly that the link between he and Shiro was complete, but quickly shoves the thought away.

He’s aware of how stupid what he’s about to do is, and the likelihood that he’ll walk away from it, but if he can save his friends, give them a chance to get away, it’s worth it.

With that thought in mind, Lance throws the stick directly into the ursidae’s soft, exposed weak spot.

The gigantic creature jerks its head, its collection of shiny eyes zeroing in on Lance, who waves his arms wildly.

Lance puts his fingers in his mouth and whistles, and the ursidae finally turns around fully.

“That’s right, you scary mother fucker, turn around,” he yells, backing up slowly.

It rears up until its standing on its back two legs, and Lance is itching to shift, to pull out his bayard, to do something, but there aren’t a lot of options available to him.

He dares to sneak a peek around the creature, hoping to see that his friends have gotten away and, in his distraction, the ursidae lashes out, its giant claws swiping directly at Lance’s head and shoulders.

Lance barely registers the breath being knocked out of his body as he hits the ground, his vision darkening as he blacks out.

+

He’s floating somewhere on the edge of consciousness when he feels it. Worry. It isn’t his own.

Lance gasps, sitting up suddenly, his heart racing.

“Whoa, whoa. Relax,” a hand at his shoulder pushes him back down.

Lance tries to turn his head but white-hot pain lances through it, and he can’t open one of his eyes. He reaches up to touch his face and finds it’s covered in gauze.

“What…” his voice is rough from disuse.

A hand grabs his, and Lance is flushed with emotions – fear, apprehension, frustration, and something else, something Lance can’t grasp. The hand tightens and Lance forces through the pain to turn his head.

Even though he can already tell from the link, he’s still surprised to see Shiro sitting by his bed.

“Welcome back,” he says softly, and Lance is glad for that, because even that volume makes his head pound.

Lance squeezes his hand, shoving his confusion through the link.

“Well your plan worked,” he starts. “That is if your plan was to get torn to shreds.”

He can tell Shiro feels his alarm when he takes Lance’s hand in both of his.

“I’m not gonna lie Lance, it’s not great…” Shiro sighs. “We got you into the med pod as quickly as possible, but it got you really deep and…Coran says you might not regain sight in your left eye.”

Lance sucks in a sharp breath.

Okay… This is…a lot. But he’s alive, right? He walked away from that creature with his life.

“Is the ursidae okay?”

Shiro huffs a laugh. “Yeah, Hunk managed to stun it.”

Lance hums and tries to nod before he remembers and groans.

“You need to take this, here, let me—” And then he’s sliding his arm under Lance’s back and pulling him up to sit.

Lance moans with the pain and barely registers Shiro pressing pills into his hand, before handing him a cup of water. He swallows them both quickly and Shiro lays him back down.

Lance tries not to whine when Shiro sits back down and is no longer touching him.

He breathes slowly, in and out, until the medicine starts to work, and the pain recedes. When he finally isn’t choking from it, he turns to look at Shiro again, and finds the other man watching him closely.

Lance flushes, his earlier feelings of guilt rushing back. “I’m sorry.”

Shiro nods. “I know.”

“I never meant to lie to you…I was just scared—” Lance feels tears start to well up and his left eye sears with pain. He hisses, reaching towards it and Shiro grabs his hand again.

“Don’t work yourself up,” his touch feels soothing and Lance knows it’s coming from the link.

Lance breathes, trying to get himself under control. “I don’t know—the link shouldn’t be this strong, I didn’t mean—”

“My ex is a shifter,” Shiro interrupts. He’s still holding Lance’s hand, but he isn’t looking at him. “His name is Adam, we met at the Garrison.”

Lance can’t look away, he’s holding his breath.

“We were together for two years and we spent countless nights together running and hunting,” he blushes slightly. “And other things.”

Lance can feel his chagrin.

Shiro looks at him. “We never developed a link.”

Lance can’t look away.

“I kind of thought I would never have one again. After my parents died—” Shiro breaks eye contact and Lance squeezes his hand encouragingly, the only thing he can do right now. “I’d kind of forgotten what it feels like… That’s probably why it took me so long to realize what was happening.”

“It’s weird…the silence.” Shiro continues. “But you get used to it after a while.”

Lance understands. Leaving his pack behind had been eye opening. Experiencing a world without the constant chatter of other shifter’s thoughts had been beyond disorienting. Lance wonders how young Shiro was when his parents died.

“I was sixteen,” Shiro answers, seemingly not even realizing Lance hadn’t asked the question out loud. “We were in a car accident and the link was as strong as ever and then one second later it was just—gone.”

“Were you…alone?” Lance asks aloud.

“Honshu packs are small.” Shiro tilts his head and looks at Lance. “Your family is Bayamo clan, right?”

Lance makes an affirmative noise. “Big packs,” he says.

Shiro nods, humming. “I had no idea…”

“My scent isn’t very strong…and yours is enough to blanket anyone.”

Shiro laughs again, and it’s like music to Lance’s ears.

“That first night… When I saw you in the woods, I was worried. I haven’t come across a friendly shifter the entire time I’ve been up in space.”

“There are other shifters in space?” Lance asks, though he had suspected as much. The way Shiro had accepted running into another wolf so easily…

“Makes you wonder where the first shifters on Earth came from,” Shiro replies.

“When did you see them?”

There’s a surge of negative emotion through the link, Shiro’s thought are swirling too fast for him to decipher, but he can’t imagine any of them are happy.

“In the arena. It’s how I survived.”

“So the Galra know about you?”

Shiro nods. “Unfortunately. When I lost my arm in a fight, they made sure the new one would shift with me.” He stops speaking but Lance still hears it was one of my first memories to come back.

Lance can just barely see it, a vision of Shiro in wolf form, tearing into an opponent. The fuzzy memory is colored with fear and guilt and most of all, Shiro’s desire to survive.

Understanding clicks in Lance’s brain. “That’s why you never shift in the castle.”

Shiro hunches his shoulders. “I do, I just—don’t want to.”

And Lance had known about Shiro the entire time and never said anything. He could have helped Shiro, they could have worked through it together, made Shiro feel safe enough to shift.

Once again Lance is fighting painful tears and his voice is wet when he says, “I’m so sorry, Shiro.”

Shiro leaves his chair, moving to kneel on the edge of Lance’s bed, hovering over him.

“It’s okay,” he runs metal fingers through the parts of Lance’s hair that aren’t covered in medical wraps. “I wish you’d told me before, but now I know.”

Lances breath hitches and Shiro squeezes his hand again.

“I want to complete the link,” he tells Lance, who is stunned.

“Why?” It’s out of his mouth before he can stop it.

Shiro squirms above him.

“We’re already family Lance…now we can be pack too.” Shiro looks away, cheeks slightly pink. “And also…I have feelings for you and I want you to be my Luna wolf.”

Lance doesn’t know what to say. This is out of left field. He knows Shiro’s wolf is interested in him, but Shiro himself had never shown any interest in Lance.

Wolves mate for life. Shiro couldn’t possibly mean…

“But you don’t like me,” Lance says, matter-of-factly, but is quick to correct. “I mean, like that.”

Shiro exhales and sits down against the edge of bed, one foot braced on the floor.

“I’ll admit, I never really thought of you that way before,” he starts and Lance sinks. “Not that I didn’t find you attractive, obviously that goes without saying—”

Does it?!

Shiro laughs and continues. “Okay, maybe not. You’re absolutely gorgeous Lance, I’ve always thought so.”

“O-oh,” Lance is faint.

“This entire week, I’ve been spending my nights having the greatest time of my life, and my days dreading departing, knowing that I would be leaving behind this other wolf who I’m absolutely smitten with.” His cheeks are pink, but he’s smiling at Lance.

“Finding out that wolf is you, one of my best friends, it really couldn’t have worked out better.”

Lance is awestruck. He had no idea. He’s always thought so highly of Shiro, always cherished their time together, but he never realized Shiro felt the same – that he thought of him as a best friend.

Shiro tsks. “Of course, Lance. And maybe I never would have approached you romantically, and don’t pretend like you would have either—I can hear your thoughts—I’m really happy it was you.”

He laughs, self-deprecatingly. “For the first time in a long time, I’m actually kind of excited for the future.”

Lance melts. All this times he’d thought about telling Shiro, thought about them shifting together, running and hunting, he’d never expected this. Him and Shiro mating had been so outside of the realm of possibility, he’d never even considered it. But when it had happened…it all felt so natural. Instinctual.

“You really want me to be your Luna wolf?” He needs to hear it again.

“I’ve never been surer of anything in my life,” Shiro says, and Lance can feel his conviction.

Lance laughs, and wipes at his wet eye. The burning in his left is lessening with each time he starts to cry.

“Okay, yeah. That would be,” wonderful “good.”

“I’m going to kiss you now,” Shiro tells him, his hands already moving to gently hold Lance’s face still.

“Please,” Lance says, and then he is. It’s sweetly passionate but chaste. Lance tries to follow when Shiro starts to pull away, but the hands at his head stop him.

“Don’t strain yourself, you shouldn’t even be awake right now as it is,” his voice is heavy with affection.

“Where is everyone else?”

“Giving us space, which believe me, was easier said than done. I basically had to tell Hunk I was about to confess my love for him to let me have you alone.”

Lance flushes at the word love but feels warm knowing that everyone was so eager to see him alive and well.

“Get some rest, baby.” Shiro runs his fingers through Lance’s hair again and Lance feels soft. Shiro keeps it up until Lance gives into the pull of the medication and falls asleep.

+

His vision doesn’t return.

Lance looks at himself in the mirror, still disoriented by his impaired depth perception. It will be a long time before he’s useful with a rifle again, but Coran swears it’s possible.

All in all, he’s lucky. The ursidae’s claw caught him right across the face, and instead of killing him, he’d been left with an impressive scar that runs from the center of his forehead down to the top of his left cheek, bisecting his eyebrow and cornea. It doesn’t look too awful, and it’s hurting less and less every day.

He specifically asked for an eye patch that would make him look like an anime character, just to get the other paladins to laugh at his antics and stop treating him like he’s made of fucking glass.

Allura has been the worst one, feeling personally responsible for his accident by sending them into the forest.

Like Lance hadn’t chosen to literally throw a stick at a bear.

He’s alive, which is a lot more than he’d expected when he’d gone up against the ursidae in human form.

“Stupid but brave,” Shiro had said, when the other paladins were finally let into med bay with them.

“That’s Lance’s middle name,” Keith replied, and Lance had flipped him the bird.

The Kitians are convinced that the paladins had somehow driven away whatever was killing the ursidae, and they comply with every request the coalition has, finishing up the treaty in record time – for the Kitians.

They’ve remained on Kito though, to give Lance time to recuperate. It’s been two weeks since the accident and while Lance doesn’t quite feel normal, he’s starting to believe he might eventually.

He hasn’t shifted the entire time. Neither has Shiro.

But tonight, they’re going to.

For the first time, they’ll shift and leave the Navaar together. And they’ll complete the link.

Cold hands slide under the sides of Lances shirt, startling him from his reverie.

He looks at Shiro, whose arms have wrapped around his stomach, in the mirror. Black eyes meet his own. The left eye is no longer bright blue, the torn cornea making it appear almost grey.

“Hey gorgeous,” Shiro presses a kiss to the side of his neck, and Lance catches a flash of Shiro’s memory – him biting at the fur of Lance’s neck as he holds him down and ruts against him.

Lance shivers. The connection still isn’t fully formed, but it’s getting stronger just from their constant touching and scenting.

One thing Lance has discovered in the past two weeks is that Shiro loves scenting, wolf form or no.

Shiro’s hands skate lower, pressing over Lance’s jeans, teasing him. Lance lifts onto his tip toes, grinding his ass against Shiro’s clothed cock. The Alpha wolf growls, kissing a line up the back of Lance’s neck before turning him so they face each other.

“I should have known you’d turn out to be a tease,” his voice is playing.

Lance scoffs, mock offended. “Excuse me, I am not a tease. I always put out after.”

Shiro laughs against his throat, moving up to take Lance’s mouth, kissing him meaningfully. There’s a sort of tension in the air, the knowledge of what’s going to happen in a few hours, and Lance moans when Shiro’s tongue slides against roof of his mouth.

“Shiro,” he gasps, as his Alpha nips his throat, a promise of later. Shiro pulls the shirt Lance is wearing above his head, unbuttoning his jeans as he herds him back against the full-length mirror. Lance finds himself naked before he can think, and then Shiro is lifting him, his impressive muscles barely straining as he holds Lance aloft.

Lance helps by wrapping his legs around Shiro’s waist, his arms folded around Shiro’s shoulders. They kiss again and then Shiro is sliding inside of him easily, his hole still loose and slick from the morning.

He moans, eyes squeezed shut, as Shiro grasps both his ass cheeks, pulling them apart before thrusting deep.

Shiro’s scent is ratcheting up, and Lance can see flashes of Shiro’s thoughts – them running through the forest, tearing apart the flesh of a small animal, primal, visceral memories.

“Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me,” Lance moans, nonsensically. His fingers are digging into Shiro’s shoulders as the tension inside him builds like a twisting rubber band. “Please, Alpha.”

Burying his face into Lance’s neck, Shiro snaps his hips so hard the sound of his balls smacking against Lance’s skin fills the air, almost drowning out Lance’s near constant moaning.

When he comes, Shiro shoves his cock as deep as it can go in this position and sinks his teeth into Lance’s neck. The symbolism of the move does not go unnoticed by Lance, who spills all over their stomachs.

When Shiro pulls out, he gently lowers Lance’s feet to the floor before going down onto his knees, licking across Lance’s stomach.

Lance sighs in contentment, running his hands through Shiro’s hair, watching the way Shiro laps at his cum. He tightens his fingers, pulling the strands and Shiro growls playfully, biting at his hip.

Finally, he stands and pulls Lance into a kiss, licking into his mouth lazily.

Lance moves to the bed while Shiro cleans up in the bathroom. Shiro’s room is laid out differently than his own and the window is right above the bed, allowing Lance to laze in the blankets while leaning out into the freezing air.

Shiro joins him on the bed and they watch as the sun slowly sinks.

“Does anyone else know you’re a shifter?” Lance asks. He’s finally getting used to the fact that Shiro will not only answer any questions he asks, but that he wants Lance to know about him and vice versa.

Shiro rests his head in his hand and looks at Lance. “My ex, obviously, and a few people back in Japan but that’s it. I’ve never told any nonshifters.”

So the Garrison hadn’t known after all.

“Me either,” Lance answers his unasked question. “Only my pack knows. I’ve thought about telling Hunk…I know he wouldn’t care or anything but, I don’t know. It’s like it’s taboo—telling people, I mean.”

Shiro hums. “My parents always stressed that to me when I was a kid. It probably wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they found out. The other paladins.”

Lance nods. “As far as we know, Allura might already know about shifters. Maybe it isn’t such a big secret in space.”

“I don’t know… Those other shifters I met in the arena…they weren’t exactly excited to shift. It always took them losing the fight to do it. It was a last resort.”

“That’s really sad,” Lance says, reaching out to touch Shiro’s Galra arm.

Shiro makes a face, clearly done with discussing his time in captivity. He changes the subject.

“Does your entire pack look like you?”

“Like a German Sheppard mutt?”

Shiro snorts with laughter and rolls his eyes. “No, dork, although that’s a weirdly accurate description. I mean so…cute. Fluffy.”

“Oh my god, you did not just say I am cute and fluffy,” Lance pushes Shiro’s shoulders, clambering on top of him to straddle his hips.

Shiro allows it, laughing the whole time. “You do! I’ve never seen such a fluffy wolf, you give Sendak a run for his money.”

“That’s it, this relationship is over,” Lance pretends to move and tries not to look quite so thrilled when Shiro clasps his hips, pulling him back down.

“Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean fluffy, I meant…fuzzy.”

Lance grabs a pillow and smacks him with it, giggling the whole time.

”For your information, the Bayamo are very majestic wolves. I just happen to take after my dad, who is a little…furrier than some others.”

Shiro is grinning at him so hard Lance wants to smack him with the pillow again.

Least I don’t look like a secret service agent, Lance thinks loudly and Shiro’s mouth drops open.

“A what?”

“You heard me!”

Shiro lunges for him and then they’re rolling in the bed, wrestling. Lance tries to bite at Shiro, but he’s giggling too hard to get a good mouth full. Shiro finally gets ahold of his wrists and pins them to the bed above his head.

Lance struggles against him, thrusting his hips up, and then the atmosphere in the room changes – a soft moan falling out of his mouth.

Shiro grinds down, Lance can feel his dick hardening from the friction, and black eyes flash gold.

It’s a reminder, and they both look up out the window.

The sun is fully set, and the first moon is already high above the forest.

Shiro looks back at him, leaning down to kiss Lance softly. “It’s time.”

Lance nods and without words they’re moving off the bed, giving each other the appropriate amount of space. He holds his breath as he watches Shiro shift, a seamless motion born of instinct.

Shiro shakes, his black coat quivering, and stretches out his back legs. He makes a circle around the room, stopping to piss against the wall – zero sense of propriety, Alphas – then turns to look at Lance. He jerks his head to the floor, and Lance can feel his impatience.

Lance takes a deep breath.

This is it. The moment he shifts, the link will connect, he’s positive of it. After this, there will be no going back, for better or worse.

Shiro rumbles, stamping his paw on the floor, claws clicking loudly.

Stop overthinking.

It comes through loud and clear.

Lance huffs a laugh and shifts.

The moment he’s on four paws, it happens. It’s a little bit like turning on the TV and discovering you’d left the volume at max level. Lance’s chest hits the ground, his instincts telling him to submit, the deluge of Alpha, Alpha, Alpha that he hasn’t felt in years.

He catches bits and pieces of Shiro’s memories. There’s a flash of him and Matt, holding their orders for Kerberos, grinning like mad. He sees a much younger Keith, scowling as ever.

There’s a car crash, screeching metal and the scent of blood, and he can hear Shiro crying – he sounds younger, but Lance would recognize it anywhere.

Like rafting through rapids only to finally hit placid water, as quickly as it came, it’s over.

He looks up and finds Shiro, sitting over him.

Hey.

Lance can feel the affection in it, and he flushes with warmth. Above him, Shiro’s tongue lolls, the picture of happiness.

Hey yourself, he returns.

Lance stands up and Shiro is immediately in his space, rubbing their faces together, scenting him aggressively.

I’d forgotten how nice—I never imagined… Shiro is overwhelmed, Lance can feel it, but it’s a good feeling. Shiro revels in the link, dipping into Lance’s memories, looking for impressions of his family.

He comes to a particularly embarrassing memory of Veronica tricking him into eating dog food and tries to pull the breaks.

Whoa there! Maybe let’s give it a minute before we dive into everything.

Shiro’s amusement is evident, and he pulls back, leaving the psychic link still. He licks at Lance’s muzzle and jerks his head towards the window.

Ready to run?

Lance wants nothing more.

They’d chosen Shiro’s room because it’s farther back in the Navaar and less populated. It was how Shiro kept sneaking out so early.

They leap through the window and into the snow, darting into the trees with purpose. It’s disorienting, running with only one eye, but Lance adjusts as well as possible. The minute they’re far away enough to feel safe, Shiro bounds over him, yipping in glee.

Lance returns his excitement and then they’re rolling through the snow, nipping and barking. Shiro lets Lance stand above him, playing at submission, panting from excitement. He can feel how happy Shiro is and it’s exhilarating.

They continue to play until Lance feels a shift, and suddenly there’s purpose to their movements.

Lance rolls onto his back, exposing his most sensitive parts, yielding to the Alpha wolf. Shiro rewards it by licking across his muzzle, then over the scar on his face.

Shiro stands up fully and circles around Lance, who remains on his back, still. He knows what’s coming next.

The Alpha wolf sniffs him, snuffling at his genitals, nosing at his paws and mouth. When he’s satisfied with the lesser wolf’s display, Shiro lifts his leg and pisses directly over Lance’s face.

It’s burning hot and it gets in his mouth and nose, he snorts trying not to choke. It’s a long, steady stream and by the time he finishes, Lance is soaked.

Too busy taking in his new status as a member of Shiro’s pack, Lance isn’t paying attention to the link and therefore doesn’t expect it when Shiro turns around and viciously bites his ear, tearing a notch into the top.

Lance yelps – it hurts, and the urine is getting into the cut, stinging.

Shiro is quick to lick at the wound, a flash of sympathy echoing to Lance.

It’s over, you’re okay.

Lance knows he will be, but he can’t help whining just a little, enjoying Shiro’s coddling.

Shiro nuzzles his face, licking at the mess. You did so well, my Luna.

Lance flushes at the name. Really, it was good of Shiro to get them both over with at the same time. Urine marking him as a pack member, then ripping his ear – the sign of a Luna wolf, neither particularly enjoyable rituals.

Although Lance can’t help wallowing in the feeling of both. Covered in Shiro’s scent, his right ear stinging from his bite.

Lance groans and stretches out in the snow. Shiro is sitting next to him, watching him fondly.

Once he’s properly luxuriated in the feeling of belonging to Shiro, he looks up at his Alpha, tail wagging lazily.

Hunt?

Shiro stretches, his sharp claws spreading out into the snow.

Let’s try not to kill anything endangered this time.

Lance laughs through the link and yips.

I’ll do my best.

It’s completely different running with Shiro now, in all the best ways.

Considering everything, Lance should be miserable. His depth perception is totally shot, he keeps tripping and running into snowbanks, he’s pretty sure there zero chance he’ll be able to actually catch anything.

But just for right now, it doesn’t matter. Shiro’s at his back, gently guiding him out of the path of trees, nudging him back up when he falls, herding prey into his path.

All the while the link sings with shared joy.

Miraculously, Lance manages to catch something. It’s fat and slow, which has a lot to do with it, but when its neck cracks from a forceful shake of his head, the feeling of pride he feels – his and Shiro’s, goes a long way towards helping him feel normal again.

Lance places it at Shiro’s paws and the Alpha wolf tears it apart, offering up the biggest piece to Lance.

He’s barely two bites in when he feels a shot of arousal through the link and then Shiro’s at his side, nosing at his asshole, licking in past the muscle.

Lance abandons his kill, dropping his chest to leave his ass high in the air. He feels Shiro’s appreciation at the move and then he’s being mounted, sharp claws at his sides and Shiro’s wet cock sliding against him.

It only takes a second before he’s sliding in and Lance howls, head thrown back. Shiro is already panting, rutting against him ruthlessly and Lance can feel everything through the link. It’s like fucking and being fucked at the same time and in no time at all Shiro’s knot is swelling, tying them together as he comes hard inside of him.

Lance can see stars, and he hasn’t even come, it’s absolutely overwhelming. Shiro pulls his leg over, leaving them tail to tail, then leans down low lifting his leg to give himself room to lick at Lance’s swollen, neglected dick.

Lance yelps at the first curl of Shiro’s tongue, and he squirms backwards, trying to give Shiro as much space as possible to continue. It doesn’t take very long before he’s swelling as well, pouring cum across Shiro’s tongue and into the snow.

Holy shit.

Shiro is silent though the link but Lance can sense his agreement.

It takes a bit for Shiro’s knot to deflate but eventually they are able to separate.

Lance gets up and moves over to Shiro’s side, dropping heavily against him. Shiro licks lazily at his wounded ear.

Lance is pretty sure he’s never felt this level of contentment in his life.

I’m really happy, Shiro thinks, surprising them both.

Lance rolls onto his back, wriggling until he can face Shiro, draping his paws over the Alpha’s body.

That makes me really happy.

Shiro snorts and his tongue lolls out. They continued to lie there, trading licks and nuzzles, until Shiro nudges him up.

I think it’s time to go back, he looks up to the sky, tracking the moons movement.

Lance agrees and they head back towards the Navaar at a sedate pace.

That first night…when you wouldn’t let me follow you. I was so confused.

Shiro has a flash of guilt. I honestly had no idea, I’m sorry I made you stay out in the snow.

It’s okay…it was kind of sweet once I realized why.

Once they reach the edge of the forest, Shiro stops and Lance pulls up short. The Alpha sits down and Lance is quick to mirror him.

We’re going to have to leave soon.

Lance leans into him, rubbing his head against Shiro’s. It’ll be okay. Even if we can only shift on the ship, at least we’ll be able to do it together. Lance pauses. I didn’t mean for that to sound so after-school special-y.

Shiro snorts and nips at Lance playfully. That will be a billion times better than it was before.

And no more moon sickness, Lance warns.

Never again.

Lance jerks his head in a facsimile of a nod and then Shiro is tilting his head back, unleashing a booming, melodic howl.

Startled at first – they’re right next to the Navaar – Lance follows suit, his howl pitched slightly higher.

Together, they’re a perfect duet.

+

Lance wakes up early the next morning, squished against Shiro, who’s practically blanketing him.

Dominating even in his sleep. Lance rolls his eyes. He looks around the room, which is an absolute wreck, clothes and piss and dirt that remained from the snow they’d tracked in.

Ugh, I’m gonna get stuck cleaning all this up. Lance thinks miserably.

Nah, I’ll help.

Lance jerks, turning wide eyes towards Shiro’s sleepy face.

“You have got to warn a guy before you do that!”

Shiro laughs, rolling off of Lance just enough to wrap an arm around his waist and pull him closer.

“I thought you were the psychic link pro,” Lance can see the air quotes in his head that he’s too lazy to mimic physically.

“It’s been years, cut me some slack.”

Shiro leans in, rubbing his face into Lance’s throat, back and forth to spread his scent. As if Lance isn’t already doused in it.

“You can never be too scent marked,” Shiro informs him and Lance grumbles half-heartedly.

They clean up and shower, and Shiro spends another ten minutes rescenting Lance. Lance can’t even be annoyed because Shiro’s mind echos my Luna, my baby, mine, mine, mine, and Lance is swooning.

They head to the breakfast nook, Lance’s hand in Shiro’s back pocket, the Alpha’s arm wrapped around his waist. Lance can barely look away, he’s so enraptured with all things Shiro, basking in the glow of their link, so he isn’t sure how many times Hunk clears his throat before it finally penetrates the fog of their shared consciousness.

They look up simultaneously, twin blushes spread across their cheeks.

Keith raises a brow in amusement. “Did you come here for breakfast, or were you just planning on eating each other?”

“Oh gross,” Pidge interjects.

“Nah, we already did that,” Lance shoots back, taking a seat at the table. Shiro gives him a disapproving look but Lance can feel that he’s fighting a laugh.

“Oh, even grosser,” Hunk says, scrunching his nose.

The team had taken the news of Shiro and Lance’s relationship just like they did everything else they encountered in space – with mild surprise before nonchalant acceptance.

Lance grabs for an alien muffin when Hunk gasped, reaching out to touch Lance’s arm.

“What happened to your ear?”

Oh shit. Lance scrambles.

“I tripped, in my bedroom.” Did that even make sense?

No. Came Shiro’s highly amused reply.

Lance looks at him in exasperation. Well where were you, Mister Quick-Thinker?

“That must have been a bad fall, that’s a huge cut.”

“Looks like a chunk is missing!” Pidge sits up to inspect it closer before Hunk pulls her back down.

Even Keith looks concerned. “You should probably get some stitches, at lea—”

“No!” Lance shouts, making everyone jump, his hand flying up to cover his ear. Shiro reaches over and puts a hand on his thigh, squeezing reassuringly.

“I mean, it’s not a big deal, it doesn’t even hurt and it’s not like anyone will notice if it scars what with all of this,” he gestures up to his face, where his blind eye is covered by a blue square patch, ties running across his cheeks.

It has the desired effect, and everyone is quick to drop the subject.

They’re more sensitive about it than I am. Lance gripes and Shiro’s hand tightens briefly.

You didn’t see yourself after the attack…

And then he is, the always disorienting feeling of seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes is made even worse by the fact that Lance is lying in the snow, covered in blood. The wound on his face is gaping, surrounded by other smaller gouges that the med pod had fully healed before he’d woken.

It actually isn’t the worst part though. Seeing his friends down on their knees surrounding him, screaming and crying, is crushing. Lance has to push the memory away quickly before he starts crying.

Luckily the other paladins are engrossed in their meal, so Lance’s short lapse goes unnoticed. Shiro pushes affection through the bond, to calm him down and it works eventually.

Lance exhales slowly, trying to release his sudden tension. Keith looks up at him.

“Everything okay, Lance?”

Lance nods and smiles. “Everything is great.”