"Come along Paladins, we can group hug later, we need to get these Lions up and at em!" With that Coran herded the others, grabbing Romelle on the way out of the cargo hold. Krolia sighed in relief.
"Shiro, if it's alright, I'd like to get you out of the pod for some proper rest and get Keith in the pod before he punctures a lung." She looked at Shiro who froze at the mention of Keith possibly being injured, likely... hopefully remembering why she was so concerned.
"Mom, it's not as bad as it looked." Krolia merely looked at her son to express the fact that this was non negotiable.
"Yeah, no of course." Allura who had remained moved to help Shiro out of the pod as Krolia moved Keith back to assist with Shiro on the other side. It took some wobbling to get Shiro settled where Keith had been sitting prior, but they did get him there, all the while her son fought off the need to help Shiro by crossing his arms.
"I'll need to reset the containment field to scan and heal you." Krolia pushed Keith forward to get the point across and when Allura nodded, Keith climbed in. He laid back, glancing over to Shiro who was averting his gaze from the pod.
"Okay," The scanner popped up with 8 things needing attention. Allura's jaw dropped slightly,
"How have you even been standing!? Why didn't you say any thing earlier?"
"Practice, and I'm thinking the adrenaline hasn't quite worn off yet."
"Or the shock" Krolia suggested, knowing full well from the stories Keith's Father told of what humans were able to do when under extreme duress.
"Alright this should only take a couple of vargas."
"Okay. Get some rest Shiro."
"Yeah, you too."
With that Allura engaged the pod covering.
"He'll be fine." Allura watched the other two still in the Black Lion. Shiro needing rest and Krolia standing guard over both Black Paladins. "I'll go join the others. With the Faunatonium we should be ready to go in no time at all."
Kroilia watched Allura excuse herself and watched as Shiro collapsed in on himself. If she didn't know any better she'd think he was grieving. But she really didn't have time for his self depreciation, self flagellation, or existential crisis. Perhaps it was cruel this soon, but she doubted there would be another chance any time soon.
"I'm sorry to do this now Shiro, but this is important. How much do you remember?" He sighed in defeat, his breathing choked and watery.
"Everything. I remember being here and I remember being in Blacks consciousness. I remember losing the fight in my mind to Hagar. I remember everything after too." Krolia sighed in relief .
"Good. That will make this much easier. There are thing that I need you to understand. I need you to be quiet. I need you to not ask questions. I just need you to listen. Is that okay?" Shiro chuckled, bringing his hand up to wipe his eyes clear."
"Yeah I think I can manage that, wouldn't be much different from the past few months." Shiro chuckled and raised his eyes to hers, but she was staring at Keith.
"Good." With that, she began.
"In the quantum abyss time was thin, diluted, twisted. There were pulses in the midst of it. Pulses that let us see into the past. Keith saw why I left, to protect him, to protect earth. I saw the hell his childhood became and I saw you reach out to a boy who needed help. Seeing even the brief glimpses I was given of you helped me understand what we spent so much time doing there, training for a battle to save both of you." Shiro shuddered, not at all liking where this was going.
"We lost our ship and landed on a space whale complete with it's own atmosphere and ecosystem. It's where we picked up the wolf. Most of our time there was spent surviving or training."
"It wasn't just the past we saw. We saw the near future too. The glimpses of the future were few and far between. We could put an effort into what we wanted to see into the past, but we had no such luck with the future."
"They were glimpses of a place with what looked like a great multitude of healing pods. I understand now that they were pods holding copies of yourself. Each of those glimpses ended with Keith dying. You don't know how many times i had to watch you kill my son." Shiro lifted his one hand to cover his eyes. Understanding threatening to sweep through what he wanted so desperately to deny.
"I trained him. He already knew a great deal, but he didn't know how to put a dislocated shoulder back in place one handed and in a timely manner. He wasn't ambidextrous in fight or reflex. He didn't know how to take a hit to the jaw and not strain his neck on the whiplash. He didn't know how to use an opponents momentum against them rather than meet it head on. He didn't know how to not kill you when you were so obviously possessed to kill him. Because sometimes you died too." Shiro slammed his eyes shut and moved his hand to cover his mouth. He needed to hear this, he could break down after.
"For each thing I taught him the glimpses got further and further into the fight. He lasted longer and longer and longer until I had nothing left to teach him that changed anything we saw. No matter what we did, we never saw anything beyond you giving him that burn." Krolia considered giving him a break, but she knew a great deal about the man in front of her, he was strong.
"You have to understand that we worked through the fractions of seconds that we saw of that fight so consistently because he couldn't bear the thought of what would happen to you if you had woken up to find him dead by your own hand. He was so determined, so focused."
"You have to understand what that did to him. What it did to me. To see himself die so many times, to see that fight over and over and over, even after we had finished it, to the point where nothing could be changed... it got into his head. Not just the glimpses, but as pure nightmares. He hasn't gotten a good night sleep in over a decaphoeb. I cant say that I'm in any better of a position."
"I need you to understand that we got as far as him getting that scar. No matter what we did we never saw any change to his death there, because it was never just a burn." Shiro muffled involuntary whine, holding it back as best he could.
"I need you to understand that Keith went into that place knowing what was coming, even if we didn't have the whole picture… We had enough."
"I need you to understand that Keith didn't expect to come out of there alive, and neither did I."
"I need you to understand that I knew that, and I let him go after you without raising any question because I know what you mean to him."
"I need you to understand that the only love he has ever known was from his father, and then from you… And now I hope, at least some from me."
"I need you to understand that for a long time you were his everything and in some ways you still very much are."
"I need you to understand that no matter what actually happened there, that I trust you, that I can never thank you enough. You have my gratitude, you have my support, and you have my forgiveness." Forgiveness broke the dam in a way that the well deserved if indirect accusations did not. He kept it muffled as much as he could but that did not change the intensity of the sobs that now wracked his entire and still recovering frame. Krolia quickly sat down next to his shaking frame. Holding him, hugging him as she wished to for a solid two decaphoebs after discovering what this man had done for her Keith.
"I'm sorry, but you both have a great deal of healing to do, and I needed you to know that as you do so. That is my piece. If you want any more details you'll get it from Keith. I just, I just needed you to know." Krolia rocked the man who she so respected as the truth washed over and out of him. He fell asleep like that. Krolia moved him to a more comfortable position laying down on a few storage containers and she stood, watching over both of them, feeling lighter than she had in a very, very, very long time.