Immediately following Coran’s explanation of the wormhole having been compromised by Haggar’s dark magic, panic spiked through Shiro’s whole body; it caused him to hunch over with a searing pain, for the wound on his lower left abdomen only seemed to worsen. Time seemed to freeze like an ice cube as the Paladins became separated. His breathing was labored as he peered down at his stomach, noticing that pieces of shrapnel were jutting out of his skin from the suit. Hot beads of sweat dripped from his forehead, causing his silken white bangs to become bothersome, now stuck to his skin. Grimacing, Shiro attempted to get into contact with the other Paladins before they became separated.
“Guys, do you copy? Are you all okay?” he asked with slight hesitation. Shiro wasn’t quiet sure he was ready to hear an answer just yet.
He received many grunts in reply, though he couldn’t distinguish exactly who answered due to the haziness clouding his vision as well as mind. He could make out some yells and the others calling to each other, but to no avail. Though Shiro was extremely nauseous -too much for his liking- he tried calling out again, with a strong, calloused hand clutching onto his wound. No matter what, he had to look out for his crew, to encourage them before everything went to hell. He knew he’d be okay, but he was already absolutely distraught upon thinking of the other Paladins being alone, without him there.
They had to know that they would be okay and survive this. So he did the only thing he could possibly think of at that moment, which was to block out his pain and assure his team, because they needed to know how much he cared, how much he had grown to love all of them in their own ways. Now, he wasn’t one to be sappy, but as he took a deep breath, Shiro felt pride radiate from his chest, with a knowing smile that he’d never get out of what he was about to say to all of them. Lance would most likely tease him to no end every day, but if that’s what it took to see his crew’s smiling, jovial faces again, then that was worth it.
Shiro quickly spoke up on all the comm lines, knowing that he was running out of time. “It’s okay, it’s okay. I know you’re all probably scared right now,” Shiro glanced down at his abdomen, pressing harder on the deep wound, then began, “It’s okay, I am too. You’re all gonna be just fine, trust me please.”
“Shiro,” he heard Lance’s voice cracking, and he knew the teen was just as nervous. “What’re we gonna do?”
Shiro felt his eyes fill to the brim with tears, shock pulsing through his entire body. He had never experienced tears coming that quickly to his eyes, and he already knew that red, puffy rings were materializing under his darkened, cold eyes. He needed to reassure them, they needed him, even though he hadn't even thought this through, none of them had. And Keith, he needed Shiro, in a way none of the others did.
He sucked in a deep, throbbing breath before starting again, “Lance, you’ll be fine. Great, actually; use your charisma wherever you go, and I’m serious, do what you have to, as long as you get people to help you. And, if you’re alone, just do what you know best on how to live. Please, please, stay safe.”
Lance sniffed with heartbreak, silently nodding his head though no one could see. “Yes sir,” he said quietly.
“Hunk, your lion hasn’t taken a bad beating, so she can protect you. Utilize her help, anything she can give you, whether it be for protection or escaping. You are such an inspiration to everyone Hunk, so like Lance, find people and befriend them, only stay if you are positive they are not after Voltron. And Hunk, breathe, do not forget to breathe. Okay?”
Shiro could vaguely hear Hunk’s rhythmic breathing accelerate, but he responded with an, “Okay, okay. I will, Shiro.”
He then decided to speak to Pidge, but his heart was already being wrenched in two from reliving his mission with Matt by just imagining losing another Holt again. He couldn’t do it. Shiro would not let her get hurt on account of him, he had promised Matt, no matter what. Shaking the negative thoughts away, Shiro said, “Katie, sweetheart, your father and Matt loved you so much. Not just them, me too, and I’m so proud of you. I know that you’ll be okay and I know that you’re probably scared, but just know I will find you again. I’m not gonna lose you along with your brother and father. You have your exemplary tech skills,” Shiro chuckled half-heartedly a bit a that, then continued, “as well as intelligence. Use it to your advantage, Katie.”
Pidge was crying, especially after hearing Shiro mention her father and brother in past tense. Her tears hit her lap like a thunderstorm, but she couldn’t stop them from coming. She hated crying to no end, and she could only focus on Shiro’s words and how much he meant to her. He was her last connection to her family, and he was family to her now. With a tightened, burning throat, she cried out his name. “I don’t want you to be gone, Shiro!”
Now it was Shiro’s turn to become weak in the knees, and electric shocks seemed to race through his body. Everything was so hard in this moment, so damn hard it hurt. “Katie…” he trailed off with a hiccup-gasp from the crying. He had to finish, the portal was intensely closing in; the lions attempted to save the Paladins by throwing their weight away from the increasingly ebbing away edges, to no success, though it gave Shiro more time.
“Coran, just stick to your normal duties. I know that I’m in no place to tell you this, but please, continue to protect Allura with everything you’ve got. Keep yourself safe too, don’t do anything crazy. This includes you, Princess, I’ll see you again soon. Thank you so much for everything, I can’t ever repay the two of you. You made us who we are today, the Paladins of Voltron.” Shiro grinned with a pained expression to himself, then finished with, “We’ve gotta save the universe still, right? Let’s find each other quickly, guys.”
Shiro could immediately pick up a whimper from Keith, and he screwed his eyes together tightly, not quite ready to let go of the red paladin yet. He didn’t know if he could do it, if Shiro could go on without Keith by his side. After returning to Earth, Keith was always there to calm Shiro’s nightmares and panic attacks, but to an even more extent. Keith wasn’t just his anchor, he was just intimately Shiro’s. Both of them were very protective of the other; he wasn’t sure how Keith would deal with the situation, but then again, how could he handle himself without Keith, his world, his stars? Biting his lip hard enough to draw deep, crimson blood, Shiro was attempting to wipe his tears away, only to have more fill the tracks left over that cut through his dirt-powdered skin. His voice refused to awaken, so he just forced out a cracked and grieving sound, eventually getting to a word.
“Keith, I—,” Shiro was abruptly cut off by the wormhole collapsing entirely, and Black took a heavy piece of metal to her head, swaying her body to the edge of the pulsing portal. Shiro’s eyes widened as he attempted to get to Keith, but the last thing he heard was a devastated screeching of his name, “Shiro! No, no, no!”
He knew Keith had faded away, he could sense it from a mile away. That meant Keith hadn’t heard the message Shiro had been intent on delivering. Shiro could only scream, in pain, in absolute, wretched agony. He bloodied his knuckles from punching the control panel relentlessly, the bone becoming bruised and his skin dwindling to a pathetic, colorless pigment. He was going to be sick. Keith was a wounded animal, with a beaten heart and too much pain to bear alone. Shiro knew this all too well and he felt a swell of emotions implode in his chest, finally accepting he would just have to find a way to his Keith once he got a glimpse of where he was landing. The one most dearest to him was gone, on another planet or a different universe.
Shiro knew, in the back of his doubting mind, that he may never see Keith Kogane ever again.