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Little Boy Blue

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It started out with the simple disregard of Lance’s dislike for carbonated drinks. It wasn’t like he’d die from having them, he just didn’t like the way that they gave him stomachaches and, thus, made it a little harder to focus on paladin training. Not a big deal, you know. It wasn’t even like carbonated drinks were a common beverage in the castle, they were celebratory drink in fact, so it wasn’t even a huge issue when he did have to drink them. But then Shiro was continuously ignoring and skipping rocks on the exact things that got on Lance’s nerves. For instance, every single time they had training, Shiro would pointedly step in front of the Gladiator if it was barrelling toward anyone but Lance and Hunk. It wasn’t like Shiro wanted them to get hurt, it was more like he’d rather Pidge and Keith not get hurt at the risk of him getting knocked out. It pissed Lance off to no end.

Meals as a group were like going through each ring of hell slowly and intimately with every second that ticked past. It was always quiet, leaving only the sounds of the silverware against their plates and the quiet slurping from each mouthful of goo. Allura would sometimes talk to them, any of them, and Lance was so thankful for her thoughtfulness and ability to diffuse tense situations. Those evenings were much more tolerable. They were never perfect, though, as no matter how hard he tried to be friendly with Allura, it always backfired and he always got a tongue lashing. He really wondered if it was worth it.

It wasn’t just the isolated incidents, either. Sometimes it was just having to deal with the thought process of being seventh priority and the knowledge that he is and always has been beneath the rest of his friends in terms of importance. The least Shiro could do was be the adult for once and acknowledge that he wasn’t treating all of his teammates fairly. Lance could understand if the age difference between them wasn’t so large, which would put them on much more equal ground, but it wasn’t. And he thought, mayhaps, that if things were different, they’d also be fair.

He tried to let it roll off his back, he really did, but nothing would work and no one was seeing how badly it was messing with him. Nonetheless, he forgave and forgot, letting himself be pushed aside and used as a springboard for everyone else’s, except for Hunk, because Hunk got the short end of the same stick, successes. However the continuous ignorance for what he needed had really started to impact Lance’s ability to see himself as useful. He didn’t even notice that he was left in the dust until after his friends were too far ahead for him to catch up. Lance never really liked blowing up at people; it always felt mean and awful, considering that it wasn’t usually the person getting the brunt of the anger’s fault. But this time he felt like he needed to say something.

Shiro was going on and on about the plan, quite obviously prioritizing Pidge and Keith over Lance and Hunk, giving the former two directions and orders that were specific to them and their strengths. Hunk was sent off to his lion without a single job to do immediately after, told to just go to his lion and follow Keith out into the battle outside of the castle. Lance tried to give his idea of what was going on, trying to contribute to the plan however he possibly could. This idea really was a good one, and he knew that it could potentially save a lot of the planet’s inhabitants. But Shiro wasn’t having any of that.

“Shiro! Shiro, c’mon, I need you to listen to me here, buddy--” Lance tried, hands flapping and voice erratic.

“Lance, please, not now! We have to get ready and I don’t have time for this right now!” Shiro snapped, voice hard and eyes narrowed, acting almost as if Lance had scurried under his foot and gotten in his way.

“But Shiro,” Discouraged, but not put off, he tried again.

“Go get get in your lion now.”

The anger that burned like hot coals under Lance’s feet set him ablaze. He couldn’t hear over his pulse in his ears, so he spoke louder, desperate to finally, for once, be heard. Diaphragm straining under the heft of his words, he spit flames, ignoring the puddles in the corners of his eyes.

“Can’t you just listen to me for once!?” At the peak of his question, his voice cracked, but he wasn’t nearly done, “I’m a part of this team, too.”

The look in Shiro’s eyes could easily be mistaken for contempt, or even anger, which was almost frightening. Lance’s underlying terror of being detrimental to those he was close to flared in his stomach, causing him to flinch away from his own words. Alarms went off in his head, and he turned on his heel, vision blurred and heart pounding every time his feet hit the ground. The trip to his lion was too short, and even though she purred under his touch and soothed him, their flight was unsatisfactory.

Voltron was lopsided when she was formed, dragging her right leg ever so slightly. The comm was all static, four voices begging Lance to catch up, but he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t distinguish the words from his own, and then it was too late and Voltron had taken a huge hit and they were falling and it was all his fault. Voltron fell apart underneath them, and most of all Lance fell, chest heaving and lion speaking her language to him and anyone else that needed to hear her words.

The impact between Blue and the dusty surface of the planet hurt, but Lance didn’t feel it, not really. He watched the faces of his teammates appear on the screen in front of his seat, all red in the face and shouting over panic alarms. Their words, of course, didn’t register with him, so he had to interpret their emotions himself, making an assumption that had to be right. They couldn’t possibly be concerned, especially since he probably ruined their chances of winning before it was too late to save anyone. His lion went dark before autopilot kicked in and she carried him away from the hole he’d created with his landing. The heat from the battle outside never reached him no matter how much the fire raged on around them. She held him like a mother does her child, guarding him and yelling that she would die for him in every way but verbal. He lost consciousness then, his body sliding out of the seat and across the floor.

---

Lance woke up with a headache underneath blankets that smelled like dust and Altean soap. At the foot of his bed was Pidge, curled up in a ball with her arms wrapped tightly around herself, glasses askew. There was a strain on his abdomen as he sat up, but he still did, gently brushing his fingers over her shoulder to wake her up. She murmured as she stirred, one eye opening before she sat up straight, groping around the bedspread for her communicator, finding her way to her feet as she searched. The lights were dimmed, but they were already too much for Lance to handle in the vulnerable state the day had left him in.

Pidge’s voice blended with the hum of the machinery behind the walls, stirring his brain like a stew and bringing nausea that pushed him down to his mattress again. She didn’t touch him, or even really bother him, just reporting that he was awake and asking whoever she was talking to for a glass of cold water. The only time she moved closer to him was when Hunk brought a glass of water to her and she knelt next to Lance’s bed. Coaxing him into a sitting position again, she helped him drink his water and breathe deeply. The noise around him faded, and he laid back down, eyes fluttering shut and muscles unknotting under the warmth of Pidge’s hand rubbing slow circles on his back.

He felt safe.

---

Breakfast was brought to Lance the next morning by Shiro himself, looking tired and conflicted. He didn’t say anything, but he really didn’t have to. His expression said everything his voice could’ve; every apology that needed saying and every justification that went without saying rested in the space between Shiro’s furrowed eyebrows. With a sigh, Lance stepped out of the way to let him in, swallowing the bile that rose in the back of his throat at the thought of facing what he’d done.

“I’m sorry,” Lance’s voice was heavy, but not from sleep, “I shouldn’t have spoken out of turn like that.”

Shiro was, to say the very least, surprised, taking a seat on Lance’s bed and thinking before responding.

“I should have listened to you, and I’m sorry that I didn’t. It obviously was bothering you, but I wasn’t thinking of how it was affecting you.” He said with very little hesitation, “That being said, you didn’t have to lash out like that.”

Lance had to press his nails into his palms to refrain from speaking over him again. He knew he had to listen right now and pretend that whatever it was that Shiro had to say for himself mattered at all. By time Shiro’s spiel on why Lance should have stayed in his lane and brought up the issue some other time when he couldn’t put his team in danger was over, Lance was beyond bored. He knew why his outburst came when he did, and he certainly didn’t regret putting up a fight when he thought about his cause.

“If I didn’t do it that way, you wouldn’t do anything about it.” The words let him like a draft, unwilling and cold.

“If you say so, Lance.” Shiro sounded exhausted as he left, leaving the food on the bed as he stood up.

The regret came back right away, slamming against Lance’s ribs as soon as the door was shut. So he left his food on the floor and lied back in his bed, desperate to sleep off the shame he brought upon himself not once be twice, asking questions he could never hope to find the answers to in sleep. As the light sifted through his eyelashes, he asked himself just one thing.

‘Why couldn’t I just shut up?’