Lotor always wanted a family, even when he didn't know that was what he wanted. He buried that urge deep and overruled the need to prove to his father that he was enough.
One day he realized that he would never be loved by anyone. He realized that he would never be accepted by his own kind.
One day he realized that he would probably die as he had been born: alone and desperate for comfort that would always be denied for him.
He didn't notice at first when he found a family among the blades.
The first time one of the members touched his shoulder to congratulate him on a job well-done he withdrew suspiciously, expecting a blow, expecting something hidden behind the words.
Because nobody does something without a hidden intention.
The strange act was repeated in different ways by different members: A light touch of Antok's tail as he passed down the hall, Thace and his strange questions, Ulaz and the ever-open door.
Little things, like realizing that the Galras were tactile in nature, they walked in packs, slept in piles when needed. There was always contact, comfort. Even if they were strict in training, even if the code was the mission above the individual.
Lotor had joined the Blades to destroy his father. Together with a select group who had suffered at the hands of the empire like him, the half-cast, the rejected, they went there to find ways to make them pay.
It would be just that: A means to the ends. A mutual agreement between people with the same goal in mind. One using the other.
And when it started to be more than that, he didn't know what to do.
"It's like a family."
Acxa whispered to him one night. Unlike Ezor, Narti and Zethrid, who seemed to have quickly adapted to what was happening, they were still looking suspiciously at everything.
They never did anything without paying a price. He had learned this the hard way, seeing a burning planet ahead of him, the destruction caused by his refusal.
"Family " He questioned uncertainty and then snorted. "Don't be ridiculous."
She frowned, watching Ezor and Zethrid sitting closer than usual in the pavilion. One more inch and they would be on top of each other.
"I think our notion of a family may not be the most appropriate example."
And he didn't know what to say about that.
He was still waiting for the price.
It was a mission to get information. Lotor was sure it was a test for Acxa and him, the two most difficult members to integrate with the rest. The two who were still sleeping in isolation from the others.
The two who had never accepted Ulaz's offer for a conversation.
They went to the mission, complications arose, they both adapted. It somehow ended up involving a planet on the brink of destruction, and things just got out of hand.
They didn't complete the mission and Lotor returned almost dead. An indefinite time in the medical wing, he woke up with Acxa sleeping next to him, which was not so strange.
The strange thing was to see Kolivan, the leader, also sitting there. He stared at him and Lotor felt something he didn't want to name in his gut as he waited for the list of things he had done wrong. How incompetent he was, a disgraced among the Galras.
"You failed the mission."
He told himself it was expected, finally a known territory. That he understood well and would know how to handle. He braced himself with his most blank facade, which he knew how to do so well.
"You should get the information and leave. Why did you interfere with the planet?"
Because they needed help. Because I couldn't help last time, but now I could.
" It's important to get allies for the cause."
Kolivan stared at him as if he could read his soul.
"I made the decision that seemed the most correct for my survival."
He couldn't understand the leader's expression.
"Interesting. The recruit made it look like it was her decision, and the-" He paused at the word.
"-guilt and responsibility would fall on her shoulders only."
Damn Acxa. That was not the plan.
"But I assume it was a joint decision."
He looked away for the first time. He lost control quickly, and that was no good.
"The Blade puts the mission above all. We have a bigger cause, and everyone here knows that."
He saw that Acxa had her eyes open now, they both looked at each other. Her expression was blank too, so much like his own. Waiting.
"Keep that in mind."
They both looked at each other in confusion. Especially when Kolivan touched his shoulder as he left.
"That is it? "
He regretted speaking, the man turned, one eyebrow raised.
" No punishments? "
Kolivan looked at them with a calculative look for a few seconds, then turned his head thoughtfully.
"You two came back alive."
They were still incredulous, looking at the leader's back when Ulaz spoke of where he was looking at the medical equipment.
"What he meant is that you did well under the circumstances you encountered and that he is impressed."
"We failed the mission. " Acxa commented, as confused as he was.
"Don't say I said that, but sometimes the mission changes."
And there was the touch on his shoulder. He saw Acxa frown as the other put his hand on her head as he passed.
"Plus, it wouldn't be the first time a recruit has done that. In fact, we have one here that made it custom."
The man's smile was strange. Almost ... affectionate.
"Who is it?"
"He grew up here at the base, the son of one of the oldest agents."
Ulaz had a smile on his face, which was odd in itself. "A hybrid like you, guys. Not very good at following orders. He is on a long mission, so you haven't met him yet."
It was the first time Lotor had heard of Keith.
Missions came and went. Ships were destroyed, recruits sprang up.
Members went on missions and didn't return.
When that happened a solemn air would rise at the base in the days ahead.
And Lotor wondered if anyone would mourn him someday, too.
His name was Regris. A hybrid like them, and with a different personality than the Galras he knew. Too open, always pulling on something.
He had taken it as his mission, it seemed, to integrate the two most distant members at the moment into the events of the base. Lotor and Acxa didn't agree with that, but he apparently didn't care about their opinion.
Lotor would never admit it, but slowly the nuisance had made his way among them. One day he looked sideways and he was walking beside the two.
When Regris didn't return from a mission, solemn air fell at the base.
And he felt something in his chest as he glanced sideways in reflex, his mouth open to ask something to someone who wasn't there.
Lotor realized that what he was feeling was sadness.
And this was the first time he had accepted Ulaz's open-door offer.
Ulaz, Thace, Kolivan, Antok. There was always one of them when he woke up from a mission in the medical wing.
For some reason, Thace in particular always seemed annoyed when they 'took unnecessary risks' saying that they wouldn't help anyone getting killed.
Acxa always looked at him confused in these situations.
Lotor pretended to know what was going on.
He would never forget the day he met Keith.
The famous - infamous, actually - Keith.
He expected so much when he heard the stories about destroyed bases, saved planets, rescued rebels. Even a fight with Zarkon.
He did not expect to see someone small and pale and looking extremely fragile among the other Galras in the hangar.
"He's ... tiny. " Zethrid commented beside him, all in mute agreement with the absurd. "And what a weird appearance."
"Where's the tail?" Ezor looked astonished as well. "The fur?"
"I do not have it either. Neither does Lotor."
"But at least your ears are pointy."
Lotor listened in silence, his eyes on the infamous Keith. The guy who had fought his father.
The strange Galra was being passed from hand to hand, and with some astonishment, Lotor saw Antok lift his mask and began licking the other guy as only a few species did with their young. The tiny Galra seemed exasperated by this, not so happy, but it was apparent he was used to it.
" This is ... disturbing. "
Acxa whispered with some fascination, Narti nodding his head in agreement. The five straightened as they saw Kolivan appear, all the other Galras silent and walking away.
Antok laid the hairless Galra on the floor and Kolivan and he looked at each other, their expressions serious.
Lotor felt strangely tense, clutching his arms crossed. He could tasty the anxiety in the air.
And so he almost fell when the little one jumped quickly over Kolivan, clinging to his neck.
Kolivan made an exasperated expression but didn't take him from where he hung, tapping the dark hair lightly.
"Welcome back, Keith. I believe the mission was a success?"
"About that ..." His voice was too loud for someone so small, echoing in the hangar. He heard some exasperated sounds around, low comments about 'what was it this time?' "Maybe I accidentally became a paladin of Voltron."
Lotor knew a little about the story from others.
Apparently, amid the mission, during the invasion of a Galra ship, Keith had come across the legendary ship trapped inside and, in his words, had been 'adopted' by the lion which for all intents and purposes should no longer exist.
Oh yes, and he had met Alteans who had slept for ages. Alteans, he thought there was no one else with Altean blood beside him.
"He also found his paternal planet, and was apparently all this time with others of his kind in the castle of lions fighting the empire."
Thace looked so tired saying that.
"And he just ... didn't tell you that as he contacted the base?"
"He omitted some facts that he deemed 'irrelevant.'"
Lotor would never admit it, but he was intrigued.
"If that's true about Voltron, what they tell in the books," Acxa commented. "If Voltron is making the empire back down, shouldn't he be with them? Do they not need him to form Voltron?"
"We made a new arrangement before I came back."
The voice caught them off guard, and there was the tiny galra behind Lotor, the tray of food in hand and as he sat beside Thace unceremoniously.
"Red is in good hands."
Lotor looked at the other, intrigued by this. Thace still looked exasperated and tired. Stressed even with the situation. And somehow looked at the other affectionately.
"Did you just ... give up being a paladin?"
That seemed so absurd. Have such power at hand and play for someone else?
Violet eyes stared at him. It was the first time they had spoken directly. He saw the calculating look and knew immediately that he must know who he was. Zarkon's rejected son.
He crossed his arms, his expression closed.
"I can do more here than with them. Like I said, Voltron is in good hands. By the way, my name is Keith."
"I know. " Acxa looked at him strangely. "I'm Lotor."
And resume eating, the table falling in uncomfortable silence.
And that was the meeting that changed his life.
At first, they didn't seem to get along.
Keith was an unknown piece and Lotor didn't like it.
He didn't like not knowing and that was happening more and more. During the practice they were together he always tried to watch him. The two were tied in the air fight, but Lotor lost in the physical combat to him, and that was unacceptable.
Everyone at the base seemed to love the boy, he was never alone, not for a second. Even Kolivan listened to him as if he were a superior member.
And Lotor didn't like it.
Who gave up power like that?
He didn't like his face either.
"You know, he's not that bad."
Acxa commented after a mission she had with the tiny Galra.
"He's pretty fierce. Do not look at me like that."
Lotor didn't believe he was losing his only ally in this madness.
"Just commenting. If you gave it a chance you might get along with him."
"I can't even look him in the face."
"The face?" Acxa looked intrigued and confused by that. "Why?"
"There's something that bothers me in that. I keep thinking about his face."
Ezor and Zethrid who had heard in silence until then looked at him with a strange expression.
They ate in silence again, smiling irritably.
Lotor didn't like not knowing what was going on.
Not at all.
Fate tried to change the game, as usual.
And it all happened for a mission.
It was the first time he'd go on a mission with Keith, and right off just the two of them. He had a suspicion that the reason was their hesitation to work together because the mission seemed ridiculously easy for two people.
And by the other's expression, he had also thought of it.
The two were there, on a strange planet walking in a forest while checking for signs of an abandoned base.
"We should talk or they'll keep doing it. Which is ridiculous."
He hated being the first to give in. The other made a sound of agreement, crouching between the rocks and looking ahead.
"You don't like me, and I don't like you, we should talk about the reasons."
Violet eyes stared at him intrigued, still silent.
"Me first, then. I have my reservations, some of your decisions seem absurd, and the unknown is a risk."
That said it seemed a little ridiculous.
"And I don't like your face."
That made the other pause, blinking a little confused. "My face?"
"There's something about it that bothers me. Your turn."
The other still looked intrigued, yet he shrugged.
"I don't 'don't' like you, Lotor."
Oh. He didn't expect that.
"But your behaviour-"
"I know." He gave a self-deprecating laugh. "What do you know about my time at the Blade?"
"Just answer the question."
"I don't follow your orders. " The other gave him a look and Lotor crossed his arms. "You were raised at the base, your mother is on a mission, your father was from another specie. You're a hybrid. Like me."
He nodded. "Well, that, but I wasn't raised entirely at the base. I got there at 12 years old."
He did not know that.
"My father died when I was seven, I spent years being thrown around, and one day an alien came through the window of one of the temporary houses in which I lived. It was my mother coming to pick me up."
He smiled faintly.
"She almost scared me to death. When I arrived I didn't trust anyone, and to this day I have some problems, including how to deal with others. What I mean is, I don't know how to handle you, but it's not you, it's me."
For some reason, he smiled at that phrase, as if it were an inside joke.
Lotor would let it pass.
"We should move, there's nothing here."
He nodded, still thoughtful.
He disliked Keith less after that. There was a certain camaraderie.
Still, his face pissed him off.
It was always there, in his mind when he closed his eyes.
It wasn't long before he met the other members of the Voltron, including the Altean. She seemed to be wary of Galras, but she was civil enough and Keith didn't seem to be included in the distrust.
"We tried to kill ourselves a few times at first." He confessed. "The Galras destroyed her planet after all."
"What has changed? "
Keith wrinkled his nose in a way that made him even more irritated with his face, both of them sitting in the hangar watching Kolivan being civilized.
He saw the other paladins staring at Keith, seeming to vibrate in place to end the ceremony and come to him.
Lotor, for some reason, moved closer to him when he saw that.
"I think I proved my worth."
The Altean blue eyes went to both of them. Keith nodded and she smiled, looking at Lotor with some interest.
The mark on his face shone with it, and she blinked with curiosity.
"You should talk to her about Altea."
He doubted they would get along.
They got along well.
"Don't be so surprised," Keith commented, patting his shoulder. "You can be pretty nice."
He grunted at that, and no, Lotor didn't pout. What an absurd concept.
"What about you and the black lion paladin?"
"Shiro? I met him before. It was the same day that my mother Krolia came to pick me up. He tried to help me." Keith smiled softly. "He's amazing."
And from that day on Lotor decided he didn't like this Shiro guy.
The war went on, as did the missions. Alliances were made, he met new people. Keith's mother Krolia, in particular, had left an impression. And no, he wasn't afraid of her. Acxa had been fascinated, and soon he saw her following the commander through the base like a lost puppy.
She was fierce, intimidating and a good leader.
"You look alike."
Keith stared at him and then smiled as he dropped him to the floor in the training room, a sword around his neck.
He grunted in response, looking up at his face.
The increasingly annoying face.
"One more time."
He would never comment that Allura, Acxa and Krolia were extremely beautiful in his eyes and that when he compared Keith with his mother, he wasn't talking about her personality.
They lost Narti on a mission.
Antok did not return one day either.
Haggar's name was Honerva, and she was Lotor's mother.
At some point, Acxa and Keith slept in his bedroom. It was a comfort for them in the chaos, loss and betrayal.
No one commented on that.
When Keith disappeared on another long mission with Voltron, he felt strangely empty.
The war was reaching its peak, and on a mission he finally found Zarkon. Of the five blades in his command, only Lotor managed to get out alive, and yet he had been abandoned to die after releasing all the paladins trapped in the ship and releasing the lions.
His last vision had been Keith taking over the black lion for some reason before his body was spat out from the base in space.
He didn't know why Zarkon left him alive, he just knew it wasn't mercy.
His only comfort was that he had been able to do what he wanted. He had defied his destiny. Challenged Zarkon. He had found peace with himself and done what he could for the war.
And he had found a family.
He could admit there, in the final moments, that he had found a family.
For some reason before closing his eyes, his body spinning in space, his last thought had been Keith's stupid face.
Lotor wasn't dead.
He had been, by all accounts, swallowed by a metal lion during battle.
Keith had returned for him.
The blade never came back for anyone, but Keith had returned. And Acxa.
No one had ever returned for Lotor before.
He woke up in the castle of lions, in one of the cryo-replenishers, with Acxa and Keith and a previously unknown space wolf sleeping in the capsule where he was treated.
Lotor for the first time felt at home.
For a strange reason, he began to cry.
The black lion's paladin had died, and then returned inside a clone. Keith had a scar now, Honerva had abandoned the battle when Lotor was spat in space.
Zarkon was dead.
Lotor felt a strange relief at that, a little guilt, but more relief.
He thought he would be annoyed that he hadn't killed the bastard himself, but a strange voice in his mind wondered if he would have hesitated.
He would never know why Zarkon didn't kill him.
The war did not end with a scream, a crash or explosion.
The war ended in a whisper.
Without a leader, the empire collapsed and the alliance took forces around the universe.
They would see her again one day.
He was sure of that.
Lotor didn't know what to think about Earth. A group had been sending for the alliance, and he saw the destruction that the Galra invasion had caused, as well as the reconstruction, the resilience of that people.
Keith and he sat on the head of the red lion watching the sunset in the desert, beyond the house where he had lived as a child, looking at the sun that disappeared into the shadow of a day that was over.
"There is still much to be done."
Keith hugged the wolf between them, relaxed but determined expression on his face. " What are you going to do now?"
Keth his expression was odd.
It seemed almost melancholy.
"You got what you wanted. The end of the empire. What are you going to do now?"
Lotor had some ideas. Search Alteans around the universe with Allura, for example. Find out more about the culture itself. Hunt Honerva before she hunts them.
He looked at Keith, who was staring at the sun waiting for his answer.
"What are you going to do?"
"Help the blade with the remaining galras, reestablish a place for them in the universe, those who want peace."
Lotor nodded, making a sudden decision.
"Then we'll do it."
The other looked at him in surprise.
" You mean-"
"I will assist you, or you are going to create chaos as usual."
The other smiled sideways at that.
"The mighty Lotor."
"The infamous Keith."
It was good to hear his laugh. He stared into the violet eyes, the face that always irritated him so much, feeling his heart pounding.
"Your face still pisses me off."
"What's wrong with my face?"
He questioned, touching his own cheek in exasperation.
"I keep thinking about it all the time, it pisses me off."
Keith froze in place, eyes wide, a strange colour on his cheeks. And then he smiled.
"I think I know what the problem is."
Keith nodded, and approached, ignoring the wolf between them. Lotor was intrigued. Keith ran his fingers through his hair and pulled him down through the back of his neck.
The lips were soft, the kiss hesitant, but it was enough.
Keith released him and looked at him expectantly.
So that was it.
It explained a lot.
"As I thought."
Keith seemed very pleased with himself.
"Hmm. Can I...?"
It was his turn of a pull Keith closer. The kiss this time was not hesitant. Or chaste. Not at all
He heard a sudden bark and the wolf bounced on both of them. That was the only thing that made him release Keith, noting that he had pulled him into his lap at some point.
In the blink of an eye the two of them had moved through a brilliant light and fallen painfully to the ground, Keith still on top of him.
He looked up and saw Krolia,, arms crossed looking at both of them, Kolivan looking back at them with an incredulous expression.
Keith growled at the wolf.
Lotor was so dead.
Lotor wasn't dead.
But it was a near thing.
The two became a joke to Acxa, and some paladins learned of it.
Keith didn't seem to care, so Lotor didn't care either.
He was happy. He had the blade members by his side. He had Acxa, Ezor and Zethrid. He had Thace and Ulaz, and even Krolia and Kolivan.
The Paladins, and Allura and Coran.
Lotor had Keith.
Lotor had a lot and everything he didn't know he needed.
He had come into the world screaming for comfort and someone to love him and was promptly denied. This time he had found what he wanted so badly, and would never let what he had gotten with blood and sweat slip through his fingers.
In this reality, at least in this reality, Lotor was no longer alone.