Updated: Apr 12, 2019
The day before felt like a dream. But Lance knew it was real. In the still early hours of the morning, Lance remembered Shiro moving away from him in bed. Lance had clung to him, murmuring nonsense about staying, But Shiro had still left, reassuring Lance he wouldn’t be gone forever.
When Lance himself finally got out of bed, the first place he’d gone was to get a status update on his father—
He hadn’t expected to find himself left back in the hall without a word on his father’s condition.
“What?” Lance said a bit more grumpily than he had intended. When he turned to the source of the voice he quickly straightened and changed his tune. “Paladin Yarl—Uh it’s a—I apologize—“
The very thin elderly man that was the Green Paladin Yarl held up his hand to stop Lance.”
“It’s understandable.” Yarl glanced at the great grandiose doors leading to the King]s Quarters. “I was told they’re not letting anyone in.” He glanced back at Lance. “I wasn’t aware that pertained even to his son.”
Lance was never sure how to act around Yarl. Like Shiro, the man was just too god damned sincere.
Raising his hand, Lance, Still stammered on. “Right, but I still feel I should apologize, I should have greeted you more warmly.”
Yarl was always quick to smile as well as a grin spread on his face. “Don’t worry about it.” He made a swiping motion with his hand. The grin faded though in a few seconds as Yarl cast his dark eyes at Lance. “I actually came to find you.”
There wasn’t much Lance had ever had in common with Yarl. He was an old Paladin, one of Lance’s father's generation. Iso the red paladin had replaced, Roric Alfor’s Red Paladin three years before the death of Ganon, the blue Paladin. That had started the slow turning over of the Paladins of Voltron, then Yellow had picked Hunk and just a little while ago—Shiro had been picked as Black.
Lance frowned deeper as he realized, Yarl was the last of the old generation of Paladins.
“Yes?” Lance asked as he looked over Yarl.
He looked it. Wrinkled face and deep dark marks under his eyes, Yarl looked old.
“Do you mind if we speak in the council rooms?”
Lance pursed his lips but shook his head. “Of course not. “
Yarl gave another smile before gesturing for Lance to lead the way.
The Paladin Council rooms were a part of the palace with restricted access to only the Paladins of Voltron and the high council members, as far as Lance knew even Allura wasn't allowed there. It was probably the only place in the entire Palace Lance had been, but his elder sister hadn’t.
They were nothing special on their own even really. It was more like going to a temple of the Lion Goddess than anything else. Everything was smooth lines and white walls. Unlike the rest of the palace, there was no rich gold adornments or crystalline sparkling stain glass windows.
Lance had learned that at one time it was where the Paladins had lived as well. That’s when the service was more of a monks calling then what it had become now.
Once entering the grand council hall, Lance let Yarl lead the way.
He was so—slight Lance thought, possibly even skinnier then himself, and that would be an accomplishment.
“I’ve been told your mate hasn’t spent much time in these halls.”
Lance looked around before resting his gaze on Yarl. “Neither have I really, if I’m honest.”
There wasn’t much reason too after all. The rooms were used for meetings of the Paladins of Voltron, but prosperous times—there hadn’t been a need.
Yarl chuckled. “The two of you don’t seem like much of the religious type.”
Lance shook his head. He wasn’t sure about Shiro, but judging from his clear distaste for Acolytes Lance would say it was a fair assessment to say that Shiro wasn’t exactly fond of religion.
Yarl just still smiled at Lance as his eyes looked round him.
Lance wondered what it was he was seeing that Lance didn’t—white walls, simple white chairs around another impossibly simple white curved, half circle table.
“Our new Leader—“ Yarl started. He tipped his head to Lance. “He has a lot of potential I think.”
“But—“ Yarl stopped his brow creased. “I’m very glad he’s picked you as a mate.”
Lance wanted to snort but he didn’t. They didn’t in anyway pick each other. But if Yarl was trying to be kind with his words, Lance wasn’t going to step in to correct him.
“I think he’s going to need the sway of a kind—of such a characteristic Blue!” Yarl chuckled.
He’d always been told, he was the poster child for a Blue, so Lance just smiled at the words.
But he was—growing anxious.
“Yes, Your Highness?”
Lance breathed out slow before he asked. “Why are we here?”
Yarl just continued to stare at him for a long moment before he gave another smile.
“I’m getting old, Your Highness.”
Giving a slow nod, Lance had no idea what Yarl was chipping away at.
“And with in the week, I will be announcing my retirement from the Paladins.”
The statement was like a cold breeze on Lance’s face. He just—
“What?” Lance asked.
Yarl was old, but he wasn’t—he wasn’t like Lance’s father. He was still sharp as a tack and though he tired faster then the rest of them during training he could still pin a gladiator sentry to the ground with that long spear of his in under four-seconds. All with that sparkling grin.
Yarl just still smiled. “It’s time. This isn’t my team anymore.”
“Is this?” Lance struggled. “Is this because of Shiro?”
“No, my boy! Of course not!” Yarl jumped to, then reconsidered. “Though at the same time if I’m honest—yes.”
Lance frowned. He wasn’t sure how to… Shiro was so much to him.
“But not how you think, Your Highness.” Yarl hastily replied. “The Black Paladin—“ Yarl's old old eyes looked over Lance. “Your Highness, a storm is coming—you know that right?”
Lance looked up at that. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t know what to say even if he could manage it.
Because the answer was—yes.
Lance knew something was wrong about so much lately. He could sense the shift. The world was changing and it was slipping right under his feet.
“There’s a war on the horizon I think, and i’m afraid it might be real this time, not the usual posturing threat. ” Yarl said, his smile was much less sad this time. “And I don’t know, maybe I’m just being selfish, but I’m not sure if I have it in me to fight. Not at this point in my life.”
“Why are you telling me?” Lance asked.
Why were they alone? Why did Yarl want them in a place no one could over hear them talking? Why Lance? Of all people, shouldn’t it be Shiro Yarl was telling all of this to?
“I think we both know why.” Yarl said softly.
Lance stood so still he was certain he could become a statue if he chose.
“You should be prepared.” Yarl went on. “Things are changing very quickly and I think—your sister’s focus isn’t wrong—but more so, it’s blinding her.”
Yarl stepped forward to Lance, placing his hand on his shoulder. “Don’t be blinded, Lance.”
Lance couldn’t get himself to move. Was he still breathing? He couldn’t tell.
Yarl stepped away from him on his way back towards the door. "The Black Paladin isn't the only one I think that has a lot of potential."
As he left, the room was quiet. Lance wondered if he was left in a sanctuary or a tomb.
He wanted to see Shiro.
But as Lance came back through their bedroom door, He was met by—
“Keith?” Lance said as he blinked.
The boy—was lounging on their couch. And it looked like he’d had a late lunch brought to him there as well.
A smile curled on his lips as he looked at Lance, he licked some honey from a finger as he sat up a bit straighter.
“Your Highness,” Lance cut in.
There was silence in the room again. Keith’s gaze on Lance didn’t falter int he least bit.
“Your Highness,” Keith gave a grand gesture with his hand and mockingly bowed from his seat on the couch.
Striding in, Lance made no attempt to hide his irritation as he started to remove his jacket. He felt stiff and over heated.
“Why are you here, Keith?” Lance asked, He went to the side table, the one before the large mirror in their sitting room. He removed his gloves, laying them across the table’s polished surface before looking up at the mirror.
The pearly mark at his neck was barely visible over the blue collar of his shirt. But even looking at it gave him a flash of a memory, of standing at that table before, Of Shiro standing behind him—only in the flash…
Shiro has been smiling at Lance, an arm around Lances middle, bottomless grey eyes staring at Lance in the mirror as Shiro nuzzled in against the mark and flashed that smile—the same smile he’d flashed at Allura…
Lance looked away. That wasn’t a memory he’d had.
“I missed you,” Keith snorted. His tone was only dripping in sarcasm.
Lance rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah and pigs fly,” He grumbled under his breath.
Keith took another bite from his honey smothered sweet bread roll as he leaned back on the couch, looking over his shoulder to Lance.
After chewing, Keith spoke again. “Maybe I was sent here,” Keith gave a shrug. “To you know, keep an eye on you.”
Lance frowned at that. “Right, cause of all people I need to be supervised by the likes of you.”
Keith actually chuckled at that. With another couple of bites he finished off his roll.
As he leaned forward, face back to the coffee table filled with food he spoke again. “Lighten up a little, Lancie Pants! “ He took another bite of something Lance couldn’t see. “You left in a hurry after all, I came to see how you were doing. Your pops doing okay?”
The gloves still on the table at Lance’s finger tips were fisted in half a second. He gritted is teeth. “I’m doing fine,” Lance tried to think how his sister would handle the situation. “Thank you for your concern.”
“You got it!” Keith gave a mock salute of his fingers in the air over the couch back. Lance also wasn’t impressed with the bland monotone in Keith’s voice.
It only irritated Lance more than ever. He huffed as he glared through the mirror at Keith.
As if on cue, Keith swiveled around to lean over the back of the couch to look at Lance.
“Hey, you should come eat.”
Lance turned around, leaning back against the side table but now looked at Keith straight on. “I’m fine, thank you.”
Keith gave a shrug. “Okay, suit yourself.” Keith turned back around to start layering honey onto another roll.
Lance gave a sigh.
Sometimes it was kind of miserable to be a prince. He wanted Keith to leave, but without a proper reason for kicking him out it would be seen as—unseemly.
Sentenced to suffer through Keith’s unbearable presence, Lance decided it would be preferable not to suffer on an empty stomach. Trudging to one of the arm chairs, Lance bent to pick up a stem of grapes. As he slumped into the chair, he plucked one off and started to chew on it.
“So I’ve got a question for you,” Keith said before taking another bite of a honey roll.
Lance just hummed in acknowledgement.
“So the king, He’s not doing too well I hear,”
In half a second, Lance was at one hundred percent full attention, sitting up in his chair he looked to Keith.
“My father will be just fine,” Lance said as firmly as he could.
“Of course he will be, “ Keith said slow, his gaze drifting up to meet Lance’s. He looked away just as he reached for another bite of food. “But let’s just pretend he won’t be,” Keith went on as he snagged himself a peach and sat back into the couch, his arm extending along the back of the couch. “Who ascends to the throne when, you know, the inevitable comes?”
The grapes in Lance’s hand were completely forgotten as Lance pressed his lips into a tight line. “Allura ascends to the throne.”
Keith gave a nod, but made a face. “But who decides that?”
Clearing his throat, Lance sat forward just a bit as he ran through the process in his own head. “Well the High Council has final say on who is chosen, but it-it will follow the blood lines, and Allura is heir by blood and by right.”
“I see,” Keith nodded and his voice had a small lift in it as if he really had learned something. “and the High council, the Black Paladin is on that, right?”
Lance felt the air leave his lungs very quickly at the question, but he still nodded. “Yes, technically Shiro is on the High Council.”
“So what would happen if Allura were dead?” Keith took a bite from his peach.
“What?” Lance wondered at that moment when his life had changed so drastically.
It felt like just a few days ago he’d been scolded for spending too much time in bed or skipping out on court or for flirting too much with the Ladies of Noblemen at dinner. And now—now it was just one tense situation after another, One terrible revelation followed by another. Lance felt like he was being strung along, like he’d been invited along for a trip and he wasn’t sure where he was headed and where he was going and—
Lance looked away to the floor. “Theres no reason for Allura not to be able to take the throne.”
Keith leaned forward, tipped his head and waited.
It wasn’t till Lance glanced up that he spoke.
Lance considered not answering. He considered not saying a word but in the end it felt like it was almost pulled out of him.
“Typically, I—I would ascend at that point.”
Keith's gaze was still on him, it was still holding Lance in place like a knife to his throat.
Ever so subtly, a corner of Keith's lips curled, slithering into a smile.
“And if you’re dead?” Keith asked. “What then, Your Highness?”
Lance could hear his heart beat, it was hitting so hard against his chest, it was rushing blood through his ears. He couldn’t look away from Keith, his mouth dropped open but no words came, his lips felt dry and he blinked a couple of times trying to process—
The door opened then.
If Shiro was startled to find his sitting room occupied he didn’t show it. Instead his gaze looked to Keith first before settling on Lance, a smile tugged at his lips and he stepped forward.
“Keith,” He said in a tone that suggested he was pleasantly surprised. But his feet took him straight to the armchair where Lance was sitting.
It was like Shiro’s touch released him from what ever hold Keith’s questions had on him and Lance melted as Shiro simply pet a hand over Lance’s shoulder and down his spine.
“Hey,” Shiro cooed to Lance before gifting him with a soft nuzzle at the bond mark.
Lance had to stop himself from tangling a few of his limbs around Shiro and forcibly keeping him in place.
“Have ya had lunch yet?” Keith asked before he took another bite of his peach.
Shiro shook his head. “Naw, haven’t had time.”
Keith held out his hands as if to present the food to Shiro. “Well, you are welcome to dig in!”
Shiro gave a snort. “You are aware this is my room, right?”
“Don’t see your name on,” Keith drawled.
All that earned him was a chuckle as Shiro walked around the room to the drinks cart. Lance stood and followed him.
He wasn’t sure exactly what he was seeking, if possibly just a reprieve from Keith. He wanted to cling to Shiro as they met at the small cart, but instead Shiro just held out a glass of what looked like juice to Lance.
Lance took it, taking a small sip.
“I just got out of a meeting with Yarl,” Shiro said casually as he poured himself a drink of the same thick deep purple juice. “He’s retiring. It becomes official the end of this week.” His gaze flicked up to Lance’s. “You wouldn’t know anything about it all, would you?”
Lance pushed out a breath, forcing himself to take in another as he lifted the drink to his lips again, taking the drink in order to give his nerves time to settle down in his veins.
Shiro made a face as he gave a slight shrug. “It just seemed sudden.”
Lance gave his own shrug “Yarl is getting old.”
Those intense grey eyes were on Lance, probably hadn’t left since Shiro had first entered the room.
Lance felt suddenly small in their reflection, paper thin, like the smallest flinch and he’d tear, spilling every bit of his insides for Shiro.
Then Shiro stepped forward. “You’re right, it's probably a good time for him to retire,” He murmured before a hand slid onto Lance’s neck. It was to hold him in place as Shiro rubbed against the mark again, even giving it a light nip and drag of his teeth before he turned to Keith, striding into the sitting room to start on a late lunch as well.
Looking down at his juice, Lance felt like he never wanted to eat again.
Through out the next few days, Shiro was backed into wall to wall meetings. It seemed since the King had taken ill—well everyones responsibilities had expounded. The few times Lance had seen Shiro, he looked tired and had seemed agitated. It was usually before they went to bed, or even later if Shiro had an exceptionally full day.
Lance hadn’t pushed any affection again but if he was lucky a tired Shiro would pull him in against his chest. The past several nights though—Shiro had just crawled under the sheets, and was usually asleep before Lance had a chance to even turn over.
Allura had been even more of a ghost. Lance would see her at breakfast if he was lucky but never more. It made sense all of the king’s duties were dropping straight onto her shoulders.
And then there was—
“There was an attack,”
Keith had looked so neutral as he said it.
Lance wasn’t sure how his world had flipped so dramatically that Keith had started to be the one to tell him key information.
“It was on a star cruiser.”
Maybe it was because the information was coming from Keith, but Lance had quickly excused himself.
The gardens’ seemed like the only sane place in the castle. It was the only place there wasn’t whispers about his father.
No one was allowed in yet. And the secrecy was what was starting to bother people Lance felt like. He wasn’t sure what the point was anymore. They all knew if he was being kept aways he was clearly ill, it was the lack of transparency that made them uneasy.
As Lance sat at the edge of a water lily pond, there was something else eating him inside out as well.
He’d lied to his mate.
Lance scooped up a lily. It was a pale yellow, and almost gleamed in the midday sun. Hunk loved these flowers.
Lance physically sighed with the thought. Hunk was another problem.
They hadn’t spoken since Lance and he had fought. And Lance still needed to apologize. He set the flower back afloat before drawing his arms in around himself. He squeezed tight, clutching his small frame in thinner. He wanted to feel bound together like that, the binding holding him all in one piece.
“It feels like the worlds flipped upside down, doesn’t it?”
Lance turned to find his sister.
“Upside down and possibly set on fire.” Lance quibbed.
Allura gave him a melodic chuckle. “The fire must not have reached here yet then,”
Lance looked around him. “Oh no, it’s here. Trust me, I can feel the heat.”
“It must be the tranquil appearance that’s fooling me,” Allura said as she came to the end of the pools raised rims. She slid into sit next to Lance more easily than Lance expected.
“It’s been so terribly long since I’ve been in these gardens,” Allura sighed. Her gaze was out over the water, looking at the expanse of flowers and hedges and general splendor of nature. "I nearly got lost trying to find you. I always forget these gardens were designed to be a giant spiraling maze."
“I’ve come here every day since…” Lance trailed off. He looked back down at the water.
He felt Allura’s hand then, brushing over his head, lightly petting his short hair.
It wasn’t till Lance looked up though that Allura spoke.
“My dear baby brother,” She gave a sad smile. “When did we grow up?”
Lance smiled as well. “I didn’t know you had such a high opinion of me.”
The sound of Allura’s laugh was something Lance always loved. Ever since he was little. Maybe that was a big part of who he was. His goofy, embarrassing self—all because he just wanted to hear people laugh.
When it was finally quiet again, Lance asked. “How’s father?”
Allura didn’t say anything, which probably said more then anything.
Lance pulled a knee up to his chest. “Will he recover?”
Allura did give a firm nod at that. “I believe so.” She didn’t look hopeful though. “Lance—it will. Our father will never be the same though. His age has come upon him very quickly.”
Lance had guessed.
“I think we have turned a page in our lives.”
“You know that’s why I’m here, right?”
Sighing, Lance gave another nod.
His sister didn’t do casual anymore. She was right, since she’d grown up—she didn't have time for anything that didn’t further her goals, and wandering in the maze of gardens was far from furthering.
“How is your relationship with Shiro coming?”
Lance jerked his head up towards his sister. He had one hundred percent not expected that question.
Allura nodded. “The two of you seem to get along very well, is he as affectionate with you when you’re alone?”
Lance blinked. Like it was an act? Was that really what she was suggesting?
“We’re good.” Lance reaffirmed. “Allura it’s been a month.”
“Exactly,” Allura shot back. “And things are already changing quicker than I planned. Lance I need your reassurance that Shiro is in support of us.”
“Why wouldn’t he be?” Lance asked exasperated.
“The acolytes made it clear he was not open for discussion of an heir. Is he withdrawn from you?”
Lance blinked. Was this really happening? Was his sister really asking him if Shiro and he—?
“He supports me.” Lance said firmly. It was an answer he could give.
“And what about the rest of the kingdom?”
“Would you like me to ask him if he plans on racing you to the throne?” Lance spat out.
The scolding look he received from his sister didn’t sting all that much. Hadn’t she forgotten? It was her to point out they weren’t all that young any more.
“Lance,” She said. Her look didn’t change. “You know I don’t mean that—“
“Then why do you keep implying it?” Lance cut in. He grumpily looked off. “My relationship with my mate is none of your business.”
“Excuse you, it is exactly my business!”
“What, because you’re the one that forced me into it!” Lance hissed at his sister.
A thought suddenly occurred to Lance, One he’d never considered, but Shiro—he had said yes to the marriage.
“What was promised to Shiro for the marriage, huh?” Lance narrowed his eyes. “Because I thought the least I’d get was you off my back.”
The look that crossed his sisters face was dark. “That’s a wholely inappropriate question.”
“You just asked me if my mate has fucked me!” Lance shot back.
That startled her for once. “You need to give this kingdom an heir.” She said as if it was an obvious fact.
“Why?” Lance held out his arms. “It’s been a freaking month! Are you that eager to have something to hold over his head”
“That is not what I meant!” Allura was finally starting to sound angry. “You know, I would never—“
“You forced me to marry a man I’d just barely met!” Lance was standing before he realized. “I don’t have any idea what you wouldn’t do at this point!”
“My family is everything to me!” Allura defended herself. “So you’re right, there is very little I wouldn’t do for them!”
“And in that endeavor, you made him my family!” Lance pointed out. “Allura—“ he just—how could she not understand? “It wasn’t just some political contract marriage—we life-bonded.” Lance drew in on himself. “I can’t even explain to you what that feels like. I know him—at such a different level than I’ve ever known someone. I can’t even explain, it’s like I’ve been—like I can feel his blood in me, like I can hear his heart beat, all the time!”
Allura’s lips pressed into a cold line. “and what does he feel like, baby brother?”
Like lightening. Like a rolling lightening storm on the horizon. And Lance had only felt his true strike once, only been seared once by it, and he never wanted it to happen again. Lance straightened a little. “It none of your damn business.”
“I am doing all this for us,” Allura said as if Lance needed reminding.
“What was promised to him?” Lance pressed again. “What are you so worried about?”
“He received a prince,” Allura hissed. “There’s not much else that could compare to that.”
That wasn’t an answer. And moreover, Lance pulled in a breath. “I wasn’t aware I was a commodity.”
Reeling, Lance was taking off at a brisk pace before his sister could catch him. With in a couple turns he knew he could lose her anyway. She'd already said she could no longer remember the turns of the palace gardens.
He needed to think through some things, and the best place to do that—was always at the end of a sword.
As the gladiator to his left advanced, Lance slashed his sword up, bracing for the clang of the gladiators sword as well. That's when the second one came in and Lance was forced to thrust off one so he could block the downward cleave of the other. Lance repelled it and skittered a few steps away.
He'd set the gladiator level to 7. It wasn’t an impossible level for Lance. He’d actually held up for quite a while at 9. But up close fights were never Lance’s strong suit and even now, sweat rolled off his skin. He set it to 7 in order to keep at it for a while, wear him down, and to finally put a freeze frame on his reeling mind.
The thin fabric of the black suit he wore as armor felt hot, and Lance pushed the sleeves up to his elbows. He gripped the lightweight long sword again in both hands.
It was designed for him, to be able to keep opponents away from him, long enough he could glide in for a strike and smoothly slide back out to a safe distance. The blade was thin, so thin it had a bit of flex to it.
It was a fighting style taught to mostly assassins and mercenaries, Lance had learned after years of training with the tiny wrinkly swordsman.
Coran had brought him in, when Lance was around thirteen. Lance was so bad at the traditional royal fighting style he remembered he would do just about anything to get out of training. He would hide in the library or go down to the servants kitchens or sneak out to the stables, looking at the tall, thickly-furred elk. Of course all of his hiding spots were always found and he was always dragged back for a fresh set of bruises.
Lance would always be grateful to Coran for suggesting they bring in someone else—someone with less of an Alpha build and fighting mindset.
Not all fights needed to be straightforward after all.
Lance widened his stance before lunging in to strike again. He parried the first hit from the gladiator and ducked the second. His hold on his sword was slipping though, he was sweating and panting as he parried again. He was forced back several steps before the second attacked, he blocked but had to slide to a knee to avoid a thrust from the first bot.
The second powered through the block, ramming into Lance. Knocked across the floor, it took a second to realize he was at the feet of the other gladiator—His eyes widened, mouth open to call a halt when there was—
Shiro’s roar shook through the training room and Lance watched in shock as Shiro’s metal arm lit up a deep purple before, like lightening, Shiro struck out with it. His hand seared through the gladiator metal like it was putty as Shiro swiftly dismembered the gladiator. He had jumped in directly over Lance, a foot on either side of Lance’s heaving chest.
With a look of utter loathing, Shiro swiveled and sliced out through the air again. The Gladiators AI was trained to learn and this one took a step back, not losing an arm like its companion.
Shiro followed though, charging and Lance scrambled to his feet.
The gladiator couldn’t escape a second slash and the buzz and whirling of its insides were revealed as Shiro opened its chest before giving swift strike to the metal core at the center of its chest. The gladiator crumbled to the ground.
The first was still moving though and even though it only had one arm, it struck at Lance who danced away. He wasn’t sure where he’d lost his sword, but it was gone he realized.
He didn't need it though as a swift thrust over his head caught Lance’s breath in his throat as Shiro decapitated the gladiator.
The headless body collapsed and Lance watched the head roll in the opposite direction.
It was quiet for several long ticks before Lance slowly turned.
Shiro still wore that look. There was a thirst in him Lance couldn’t place. Those cold eyes washing over him, made Lance tremble as he looked his mate over.
“I didn’t need that,” the indignant part of Lance spoke.
Shiro growled, it was low and guttural as he stepped forward.
Lance wasn’t sure what instinct was talking to him, but he scrambled back.
Shiro did not take kindly to that and advanced quicker this time, his metal hand striking out.
With a gasp, Lance tried to squirm away, thinking that bright purple might sear through his skin—then right as Shiro touched him, the most beautiful—it was like a spell powering down, just a second before Shiro’s cold metal hand grasped Lance’s chin, the purple faded away in weird symbols and writing leaving Shiro’s hand the familiar cool spotless metal. Shiro’s fingers grasped Lance’s chin gingerly, holding him still as Shiro slid in, so precisely controlled.
Lance barely had time to look up from the metal arm before Shiro was leaning in and with another growl he was engulfing Lance, his mouth smothering over Lance’s.
It wasn’t gentle or kind. Shiro devoured Lance through his mouth, yanking him closer, he wrapped an arm around Lance as he forced his mouth open and melded their mouths again.
Flicking his eyes closed, Lance was more than fine to let it happen as he moved his hands up over Shiro’s arms. He smoothed a hand over Shiro’s shoulder. It was so—it was all so big. He felt too insignificant standing in range of Shiro. Every thing about the man spoke of being so monumental.
Suddenly Shiro was pushing him back though. Lance wanted to protest even opened his mouth—
But this time, Shiro shoved him, and Lance stumbled back. A metal hand wrapped under Lance’s thigh and yanked hard, taking Lance off his feet. Lance landed with and indignant ‘omppphhh’ on the padded floor of the training room.
He winced and tried to stand before he looked up…
Shiro was over him, sliding down to his knees. He kneed his way over Lance’s legs, holding him down just with the look of—devouring. Lance felt like he was getting eaten in that moment. In a strange sort of way it was like Shiro was taking in every part of him in slow long ravenous bites.
Next to Lance, Shiro’s Black armor hit the mat.
Shiro stretched an arm up to reach behind himself, he hooked a hand in the collar of his black training shirt and yanked. The shirt made a soft whoosh as it slid up over Shiro’s body and was slipped off. It pooled in his hand, a pathetic thing compared to the shape it used to form over Shiro’s chest. He slid it to the floor before leaning in to crawl closer over Lance.
“Are we going to…?” Lance asked. Because it was him and he couldn’t have one moment without embarrassing himself.
Shiro chuckled with an edge of a panthers growl to it.
Taking that as aa affirmative, Lance wasn’t sure suddenly if he could breath. He reached out for Shiro again, his fingers sliding over smooth tan skin. His skin tone wasn’t as dark as Lance’s, but it was still so lovely.
“I don’t know…” Lane started.
Was this really how he was going about this? His first time and he was worried about it? Lance tried desperately to catch up to the breath running away from him constantly.
“I’ve got you,” Shiro voice was so low it rubbed across the rock bottom of known sound waves, resounding through Lance’s veins. He caught Lance’s chin again, tipping his head up for a kiss—their second Lance’s mind supplied. It was their second real kiss ever. Just now—just as Shiro had yanked him in—that had been their first.
“I’m scared of you,” Lance suddenly found flying our of his mouth.
That stopped Shiro. “Why? There’s absolutely nothing I’d ever do to you.” He assured the trembling boy underneath him. “I could never hurt you.”
Lance’s hand slid over the cold surface of Shiro’s arm.
“I didn’t know—it’s a weapon.”
Shiro nodded. “Not many people do know.”
“Why haven’t you told anyone?” Lance asked, he couldn’t bring his eyes up to meet the lightening storm in Shiro’s gaze. He was so close to it, he didn’t feel the need to be blinded by it as well.
That metal hand moved suddenly, gliding over Lance’s hand it shifted and spun around before entertaining their fingers.
“I’d rather they see the humanity, not the weapon.”
“So you keep secrets?” It was meant as a thought but had pushed its way past Lance’s lips. “What makes me different?”
“You’re mine.” Shiro’s brow furrowed as if it was obvious. “You’ve been different from the moment I gave you that mark.”
“Was it just the mark?” Lance asked. He let himself slide back, letting himself fall back to lay onto the floor.
Shiro shook his head. “You know I’ll never be able to answer that question.”
It was quiet for a while, time enough for Shiro’s words to sink in.
Shiro was right. They never got to know each other without—living inside each other. They craved each other, they wanted to bleed into each other. And that was how they’d come to know each other at all. There wasn’t even a brief moment before. Lance’s first impression of Shiro was his mouth pressed to Lance’s throat.
“Do you wish you hadn’t?” Lance asked.
“Lance,” It was a threatening growl this time. He moved in over Lance, burying his head in and barring his teeth over Lance’s mark.
“I sometimes do.” Lance admitted. “I wish I had told my sister, no.”
Shiro was still over him. Lance couldn’t see him. It was probably preferable that way.
“There’s nothing about the past that can be changed now,” Shiro’s voice rumbled. “Even if we hadn’t gone through with it—” He stalled. His hand reached up, long fingers filtering through Lance’s hair. “I never thought I’d be so fond of something until I found you.”
That brought a smile to Lance’s face.
The tightening of Shiro’s hold on him made Lance look up a bit more.
“I wouldn’t have let you. If your sister didn’t convince you, I would have.”
Lance swallowed, his eyes sliding closed as he let his hand start seeing for him. He grazed his fingers back over cool metal and sweat slick skin.
“I’m to conclude it was inevitable then?” Lance asked.
Shiro opened his mouth at the side of Lance’s face, his breath hot before he lightly scraped his teeth over Lance’s cheek. it was alluring and terrifying all at once to almost be literally devoured by his mate. Shiro nipped at Lance’s jaw line and ended with a chaste kiss to the mark.
“Not in ten thousand years would I have let you escape me.”
It sent a tremble down Lance’s spine and relaxed him all at once. He belonged somewhere for the first time in his life and yet he was finding the arms of his lover darker every time they reached for him.
“Utterly inevitable,” Shiro repeated with a lick to the underside of Lance’s chin. “Understood?”
The purred praise was combining with all the small touches to Lance’s mark and he could feel the steady stream enter his system now.
“But why?” Lance suddenly shook his head. “Ooooh, none of this makes any sense.” He bemoaned, his hands coming up, he smoothed them over his face.
Shiro chuckled over him then. “Is this your greatest flaw I’m to assume? My prince, the worrier and horribly self conscious doubter?”
Lance panted a laugh. “I don’t find that funny.”
“I think it’s pretty amusing.” Shiro said anyway.
“Don’t be cruel.”
“You’ve never given me a reason to be.”
Lance pulled his fingers away at that and looked up at Shiro.
It was a shot glass of truth suddenly being swallowed down, Lance realized as he looked at his mate’s face.
It was then that Shiro pushed back up to balance on his knees.
Cautious Lance shifted as well and sat up on his elbows. He was taken by surprise again as Shiro hooked that metal arm back under Lance’s leg and hauled him so far forward he was now in Shiro’s lap.
For which, Shiro’s other hand was at the waist band of his pants, he was undoing them. There was the clink of metal from his belt and his eyes were starting to devour Lance again.
Breath slipped from his grasp again. Lance panicked and his hands scrambled up to stop Shiro. “Please, no.”
There was actual surprise in Shiro’s gaze this time but he stopped. His hands first came up, showing surrender to Lance before falling away.
Lance couldn’t bare it and looked away, murmuring, “I’m sorry.”
“I’ll wait as long as you need.” Shiro said in a quiet tone. He smoothed his hands over Lance’s thighs still in his lap. “Theres no need to rush. We’ve barely known each other.”
With a melting expression back into troubled, Lance shook his head. “We should have already done this.” He gave an exasperated sigh. “it was expected of us the first night we were together.”
The low hum from Shiro was close again. He hadn’t let Lance leave his lap and was bowing over him, resting his weight on his hands over Lance.
With wide eyes, Lance looked at his mate.
That couldn’t have been Shiro. That couldn’t have been his precise and perfect mate just saying that. That was a bad language word and Shiro—Lance was pretty sure he’d never heard Shiro say anything vulgar.
The smile that twisted onto Shiro’s face this time was dark. And—it looked wonderful. To stop himself, Lance’s hand went to cover his own mouth. He wanted to kiss that smile so bad.
“Fuck all of them,” Shiro growled low. “I don’t care about their traditions or their rules—not when it comes to you.” Shiro’s gaze narrowed. “You’re mine. If they wanted to dictate your behavior they shouldn’t have handed you over to me.”
It was—the sudden feeling that Shiro—that Lance was different to Shiro was so overwhelmingly comforting. Lance needily pulled Shiro closer, his hand at Shiro’s neck winding around it.
“Thank you,” Lance breathed before explaining. “Hunk said I should be angry about what happened.”
Shiro nodded. “Is that the prompting of all this?”
“Not all of it.” Lance admitted.
“Will you tell me the rest?” metal fingers glided through the hair at the side of Lance’s face.
“I’d rather not.” Lance admitted more. “It reflects poorly—on everyone involved.”
“Ah,” Shiro let the sound out.
Glancing up, Lance couldn’t help the deep frown. For once, Lance could decipher the look on Shiro’s face. He knew.
“Can-“ Lance hesitantly asked. “Can we stay here? Just for a little longer. I don’t want to go back—“
The hand brushing through Lance’s hair shifted and tipped his face.
“I wish you’d tell me what’s all going on in that beautiful head of yours,” Shiro said to him, his tone and expression taking a turn into concerned.
He couldn’t. And it made Lance feel a trillion times worse.
“I’ve really missed you,” He tried to cover.
Shiro blinked at him. He knew again. There was so much and Lance just couldn’t. Shiro blinked at him. The deflect was so obvious but Shiro expression still turned kind.
“I know.” He rumbled. “You have no idea how hard it’s been for me not to really even get to see you every day.”
Lance gave a nervous laugh. “I had no idea a bonding would feel like this.” He gave a weak gesture. “I mean, godess, how does anyone even function when they can’t have their mate around?”
With a shake of his head, Shiro shifted, sliding down to the floor laying next to Lance. He gave his own sigh. “Yeah. I know exactly what you mean.”
“But you still would have done it.” Lance reiterated Shiro’s words.
“I told you,” Shiro’s gaze bore into Lance. “It was utterly inevitable.”
To prove his point he leaned his head to Lance, and tapped the mark with the tip of his nose. Lance let his eyes drift closed at the intimate contact but he knew Shiro was smiling, it was Lance’s smile too, sweet and gentle. It was everything Lance needed.
It was dark out before they snuck back into their bedroom. Once there, Lance could see the tiredness pulling at Shiro’s shoulders. He sighed as the entered the room. The muscles at his neck pulled tight again. Lance’s fingers curled as he thought about approaching his mate and reaching up, kneading the tightness there. He did no such thing—but he thought about it.
Shiro still had a stack of things to read and look through waiting for him and had gotten dressed for bed, setting the pile on the night stand as he started through them. He sat against the headboard, shirtless and in a pair of loose sleep pants, looking over the first report in his lap.
Lance felt a rush of bravery suddenly, looking at how easy his mate was with him.
That was his Alpha sitting there and he’d been so kind to Lance earlier… He was still here with Lance, even after Lance had asked all those embarrassing questions of him.
Lance had his usual loose sleep shirt and cropped soft cotton pants for sleep on but—he looked across the bed at that moment and—He felt like maybe he’d be okay if he…
His hands shook a bit, but Lance grabbed his shirt before he had a chance to change his mind and silently slipped it up over his head.
Shiro’s head was up almost instantly.
The soft shirt was still in Lance’s hands. A rush of shyness made him flush all the way from the tips of his ears to the peaks of his shoulders. Lance hastily shifted his gaze away as he let the shirt drop to the narrow footstool at the bottom of their bed.
When Lance did finally look up through his lashes, he found he had Shiro’s full and complete attention.
There wasn’t much as flattering as having Shiro’s eyes rover over him. Those dark grey eyes washed over him, and pulled him in as Shiro’s mouth dropped open just a bit. His tongue peaked as he licked his lips and his gaze flicked up to meet Lance’s.
It was the first time Lance had really revealed any skin to his mate.
Shiro set the reports down, and started to move forward on the bed.
“I can—“ Lance worriedly stammered. “I mean, I just—“
As Shiro grew closer the difference between them was so vividly apparent. Shiro’s bare chest looked like it was sculpted by the hands of some infinite god. He was well beyond toned—every part of him smooth and marble hard. Not that it should have been a surprise, Shiro had made it clear his strict morning training was not to be interrupted with Black Paladin duties.
And seeing the difference—a work out might do Lance’s scrawny form some good. He was all smooth planes. Hunk had once joked Lance’s waist was so small he might as well be a girl. He didn't have the deep cut V-shape of the other boys or the broad expanse of muscle. It was all just gentle, subtle, smoothness, a slight softness to the descent of his chest. At the very edges of his shoulders were the bright teal shoulder markings. His were very—delicate. A small dot with a radial circle around it and the gentle swoosh reminiscent of his eye markings pointed down his arm as delicate slender lines in the markings took it all the way to just an inch above his elbow. He had corresponding marks at the peaks of his hips and another small trail of celestial circles dotting down his spine, just between his shoulder blades.
It was the same with Lance’s sister as well. The royal blood line shone in their abundant markings.
Shiro—being common—had no markings apart from the pair of slender dark marks just at the very tips of his cheek bones. Lance liked looking at the tiny marks, reminiscent of wings just under Shiro’s eyes, but watching his partner dress and undress, Lance was aware with out saying anything that it was the only markings Shiro bore.
Lance was blushing so furiously red, his hands flew up to his face. “I’ll put it back on.” He mumbled.
That deep rumbling chuckle was so close to him, but Lance still wasn’t looking up from his hands.
“Please don’t,” Shiro spoke close to Lance’s shoulder.
Parting his fingers, Lance peeked up at his Alpha.
The smile that cocked on Shiro’s face was delightfully attractive before Shiro leaned in to press his lips at the peak of Lance’s shoulder.
“I like your freckles.”
And Lance was blushing again.
“Don’t tease me!” He whined.
That smile widened as Shiro shook his head. “I was being honest.” Pulling up into a sitting position before Lance, he sat up straight before him. “Can I touch?” He held out his hands out for Lance to see, broad and outstretched, held out.
“No.” Lance hid back under his fingers.
Shiro leaned in, trying to sneak another peak through Lance’s fingers. “But I’d really like to.”
Finally retracting his fingers, Lance blinked, his fisted hands now just covering his mouth. Very slowly and slightly he looked away but he gave Shiro a small nod.
With a very confident look, Lance wasn’t sure he’d ever seen from his Alpha before, Shiro shuffled closer, his knees brushed either side of Lance’s hips. He smoothed his hands over Lance’s wrists before gently he pulled them away.
“Come on, let me have a look then.”
Reluctant, but Lance still complied, letting Shiro tug his arms away, revealing Lance’s bare skin from navel to nose.
Lance twisted his arms around though. Shiro’s gaze connected with his for just a moment before Lance slid his arms down in his hold and intertwined their fingers.
There was a soft smile before Shiro’s gaze fleeted back down over Lance. Lance could feel it again. The feeling of lightening in his veins, it was like he was brushing up against a god of the heavens. He swallowed, trying not to show the rushing nervousness. There was no doubt Shiro already knew, he could probably smell it, but no part of Lance wanted to admit it.
“You’re perfect.” Shiro hummed, he was leaning in too.
Lance was so red he wasn’t sure what to do. He opened his mouth to speak but Shiro seized the opportunity and connected their mouths. It was a hungry but fast kiss as he pulled away with a devious smile
“You’re so perfectly mine,” Shiro hummed lower this time, tone just lightly touching down on a growl.
He released Lance’s hands and grabbed forward, capturing Lance up and wrapping his arms around his middle. It was so—so horribly flattering Lance couldn’t raise protest. Especially with the way Shiro was looking at him. It was like he was telling Lance the honest to god truth about him.
“I’m okay with that,” Lance didn’t realize he said.
Shiro was pulling away then, tugging Lance’s hands along with him. “Come to bed with me.”
There was no reason to deny him, so Lance crawled across the bed with Shiro, letting his Alpha pull them under the sheets, waving his hand so the lights would click off over head. He tugged Lance flush against him, pressing tiny wonderful kisses over Lance’s freckled shoulders.
“You’re so beautiful.” Shiro’s continuous murmured praise had Lance melting over him, pooling in Shiro’s arms and smiling blissfuly.