Updated: Apr 12, 2019
Lance was being stalked. …and he wasn’t happy about it.
Keith reached so terribly callously and snatched up another scone from across the table. He chewed with his mouth open. His boots were always muddy. His default face was that stubborn unprovoked hatred for the world and everything in it. He had a terrible hair style, for which he seemed to not even worry about! It was always a fucking mess too, no matter what he did or where he was! He had it in this little messy frizzy bun too just the other night at court. Lance was appalled and tried to make it clear he did not know the possibly part wolf boy that kept tracking him freaking down every twenty-seconds!
Even now, Lance thought. He was sitting out on the garden terrace, Lance had requested breakfast out there, not wanting to have to see the gloomy looks of every one that would be in the grand hall.
Shiro had even come, it was all going to be perfect! Lance had been served a delicious bowl of moon blossom buns and lion fruit and some sour dough scones. And the gardens were so lovely and Shiro had been smiling at him. They had had the best nights sleep cuddled together. Lance was still feeling high from the bravery.
He’d come to breakfast, on the terrace, in the gardens, with Shiro, and moon buns—and then Keith had showed up.
Okay minor stumbling block, till Shiro had stood up, telling Lance he should have a good day and kissing him before— he was gone before Lance could even reach for him.
Now he was left alone at breakfast—with the heathen!
“Hey, so I have a question.”
“Why are you here?” Lance beat him to the punch.
Keith gripped the butterknife in his—yup, those looked like fingerless gloves— and pointed it at Lance. “I have already answered that question.”
“I don’t remember that,” Lance shot back, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Well, maybe someone should start taking notes,” Keith rolled his eyes. “Back to my question.”
Lance didn’t look up from his breakfast. Keith’s questions were never a good thing. The last time—Lance still shivered at the creepy feeling of last time. It had in no way made him feel closer to the werewolf sitting across from him.
“So your friend Hunk,”
“That would be Paladin Hunk,” Lance did not say that in a sing song voice! No, not at all. Because rubbing a higher rank into Keith’s face was not fun at all!
Keith actually rolled his eyes this time before blinking he tried again. “Right, Paladin Hunk.”
“Knowing your place in life is important.” Lance said to Keith in a mockingly caring voice.
Keith smirked at that. “Right.” He finally finished buttering his scone. “But about him—like what is he?”
Lance narrowed his gaze. “I’m not sure I follow.” He shrugged. “Hunk is Altean. He’s the Yellow Paladin of Voltron.” That was all pretty obvious things. “He’s kind of a big bundle of love and a cook and—“
“No,” Keith dead panned, “I mean I can’t really smell him. Like I caught a whiff of Alpha on him but like I couldn’t tell if that was his or…” Keith trailed off his brow lowering in confusion.
Lance’s face shot white as he looked around them nervously. “What—“ he shook his head. ”How can you—?”
Keith gave a nonchalant shrug. “You know most people it’s pretty easy to tell. For instance, Shiro walks in the room and you’re hit with Alpha smell so god damn hard you almost black out, or you, you have one of the most honey sweet Omega scents I have ever caught a whiff of. It’s like this minty honey too, it’s really different—“
Lance was scrambling around the table and had his hands on Keith's mouth to stop him before he could think of anything else to do.
A flash expression of anger crossed Keith's face before he was fighting Lance off. “Don’t do that!”
“Then don’t try talking about inappropriate things!” Lance hollered back.
Keith cocked his head and displayed his hands in a gesture of, ‘excuse me.’
Lance glanced around them. A couple of servants were giving the two a side look and a guard was snickering. Making a split decision Lance grabbed Keith’s—really ugly jacket—and pulled him away. Once they were back through the gardens and away from prying eyes and ears, Lance turned to Keith.
“I’m a Prince!”
Keith gave an exasperated huff. “Yes, you’ve made that really freaking clear!”
“No,” Lance pointed at the terrace back there. “I meant that,”
“I just asked you what Hunk was!” Keith said like it was such an easy thing.
Lance shook his head. “No. You just asked me about sex! In front of other people!”
Keith’s mouth dropped open. “I did not in anyway ask if you and Hunk fucked.”
Lance made an aggravated sound before gathering himself back together. “Look, his gender implies his sexuality!”
Keith blinked at that. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Not like,” Lance said. He was having trouble finding the right words. “Its just— it’s not talked about. Not here anyway. Talking about it is in effect pointing out someone’s role in sex—Prince’s can’t talk about sex!” Lance made the last part very clear.
“How the fuck do you guys ever figure anything out then?!” Keith shook his head like it was the most confusing concept in the world.
“You literally just told me I smell like a beehive!” Lance hissed. “It’s pretty easy to put two and two together sometimes.”
Keith was still blinking his way through processing the information. “That sounds horrible.”
Lance crossed his arms. “It’s refined.”
“It sounds confusing.”
“It’s an unseemly topic,” Lance countered. “Besides, why would I need to talk about it?”
“Well—“ Keith paused. “You’re an Omega. Don’t other people need to know about like heats and all that?”
Lance’s mouth dropped open. “Now you’re the one dropping into archaic opinions.”
Keith crossed his arms at that. “It’s a natural occurrence!”
“Oh and so I expect you think I’m some moaning puddle of slick on the floor when it pops up, huh?” Lance shot back. His jaw was set this time as he fisted his hands. “Look, an Omega wants sex when it happens— but it’s not like I’m an uncontrollable animal. I deal with it, like an adult.”
“So you’re on suppressants?” Keith asked as if that answered a question. “That must be why all the Omega’s here are so free to move around.”
“What?” Lance asked incredulous. “Why the hell would I need a suppressant? My hormones are perfectly fine at natural levels.”
“You just said heats are dealt with really easily here!” Keith was the one to sound aggravated this time.
“Yeah,” Lance gave a gesture as if it was not that hard of a concept. “But it’s not like I take extreme measures. It’s an inconvenience for a week or so, but I get through it, knowing all the sex thoughts I’m having are just that, instincts and thoughts, they don’t dictate my behavior.”
Keith blinked. “So what about the Alphas?”
“You mean like when an Alpha goes into rutt?”
“Yes—well no,” Keith thought about it before clarifying. “Well, one question at a time, I mean when you’re in heat, what about all the Alpha’s around you?”
Lance shrugged. “What about them?”
Keith looked appalled. “So you just flaunt your heat around for them?!”
“Why the hell would I flaunt that fact?!” Lance growled back. “It’s disgusting!”
“Oh, trust me to an Alpha, disgusting is not the word to describe it.” Keith crossed his arms again. “How are they expected to deal with that here?”
Lance’s mouth dropped open. “Are you—they’re still people, Keith!” He shook his head. “An Alpha is expected to deal with it like a thinking person with higher cognitive functions. Just because someone is an Alpha doesn’t mean that can jump some Omega in heat like a dog.”
That actually looked like it caught Keith off guard. He looked at Lance so strangely then, eyeing him up and down.
Lance wanted to ask about where Keith had such a notion about how an Omega was treated—but a part of him… he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.
“Where are you from, Keith?” the question just bubbled up.
Keith straightened. “Me and Shiro are from the same place. We’re the same race, Varrin.”
Varrins were Alteans, only inhabitants of the Altean system instead of Altea it self. They were the colonizers. Varr was the moon of Altea and out of the two, the only inhabitable moon.
The way Keith frowned at the question tugged at his deep red eye markings. It was the first time Lance had really looked at them as well. They were strange, such a vivd red he’d never seen besides just being two dots on either side with small slashes underneath. Lance's markings were traditional for the Altean royal family, nearly identical to his sisters and Fathers. And then Shiro's markings--they were two ticked markings a the peak of his cheekbone, like tiny wings, but also like Keith's they were deep in color not the luminescent neons of the royals.
Lance frowned. He’d only been to Varr once, but it wasn’t like what Keith was describing.
“Don’t do anything you’ve described to an Omega here.” Lance blurted again.
Keith blinked at him.
“I mean it, Keith.” Lance said. “It seems—it sounds like where ever you’re from—it has a completely different system than here. Omega’s here—they're not like that.”
Keith’s brow creased. “I’m not suggesting Omegas or Alphas are purely instinctual driven animals. I still seek consent from an Omega before.”
Lance nodded. “I know. But it’s different here. Second gender isn’t important here.”
Keith gave a sigh. “That just sounds like it makes life so much harder.”
Lance couldn’t agree with that. It made his life so much easier really.
“Like really you guys do that to an Alpha? You’d let him be around an Omega in heat and expect him to act like nothing is going on?”
Lance tipped his head. “Why would I expect anything different from them? Wanting something you can’t have isn’t the end of the world.”
“You make it sound like an Alpha following instincts is just petty!” Keith finally snarled.
“Well what would you call it?” Lance said. “It works both ways. When I’m in heat, I would love an Alpha around but i’m not going to do that to someone, that would //make me petty//.”
“You all are seriously repressed.” Keith huffed.
Lance shrugged. “I guess you could look at it that way.” He couldn’t help but point out. “But when an Omega has a heat here we don’t sentence them to a kennel.” He shook his head. “Personal responsibility for your actions isn’t petty.”
“Right,” Keith rolled his eyes. “But talking about any of it is so —unrefined!”
“I’m not saying we’re perfect,” Lance hissed.
“No,” Keith snarled back. “you just implied that you’re better than me.”
With a huff he was stalking off before Lance could do anything.
“Ouuugghhh,” Lance bemoaned. “That’s not what I meant…” Well if he was lucky he wouldn’t have a stalker any more.
“Paladin Shiro, “ One of the older council men. “You are aware, there are certain—traditions to picking a new Paladin of Voltron.”
The council halls were for once in use. The Paladins all sat at the curved table. Lance was normally seated at the very edge of the table, but one look from Shiro let him know he was going to be sitting next to him. Now at Shiro’s direct left Lance wasn’t sure he wanted to be there.
Especially since opposite to them sat the Altean High Council.
At the other end of the table was one empty seat.
Yarl had barely stuck around long enough for a ceremony of release, and now the Council was just sitting around looking at his empty chair.
“I realize,” Shiro’s voice was grating into a growl.
Lance could feel Shiro’s agitation. They’d already been in the room for over an hour talking with the council. After his talk with Keith, Lance couldn’t help but notice the scents in the room at that moment. Shiro’s was the most prominate but he would always be after the bonding, and he was not happy.
“But picking from a handful of candidates seems unwise when we have the option to open it up to the public.”
Iso sat at Shiro’s right and with his arms crossed he gave a huff. “Just because your own choosing was unconventional doesn’t mean we need to undo all this team has worked for.”
“I don’t think being open to try something new is particularly a bad thing.” Hunk spoke from where he sat next to Lance.
Hunks own choosing had been unconventional. The Yellow Lion had literally just shown up at his house, over night after the death of the old yellow paladin.
The only two in the room that had been chosen through conventional methods was Lance and Iso.
There was a thumbing purr of reassurance in Lance’s mind. He frowned deeper. He knew what Blue was trying to say. Even if it had been open to the public she still would have picked him.
But Lance had been in contact with the Blue Lion—gosh since he was just small. Even way before the Blue Paladin was dead, Lance had felt Blue’s presence. Lance’s father had always told Lance he quite possibly had the strongest connection with his lion that he had ever seen.
“The way we have always done things has always bore out to produce a strong and worthy Paladin.” Iso argued back. He was glaring at Hunk.
“Prince Lance,” One of the council men asked. “You’ve been rather withdrawn, what do you think? How should we in Your Highnesses opinion, go about choosing the next Green Paladin?”
Lance’s frown only deepened. That question was framed entirely the wrong way. They were trying to use Lance’s royal ties as a swaying point to their side.
Lance opened his mouth but blinking rapidly, he wasn’t sure what to say.
The traditional way of doing things had clearly worked, especially in Lance’s favor—But Lance’s eyes shifted to Shiro. He wouldn’t have found—if Black hadn’t busted through all of their rules and traditions Lance would have never met Shiro.
Shiro gave Lance a slight nod, as if to say, ‘It’s okay, say what ever you think. It wont hurt me.’
Lance couldn’t do that to his mate though so licking his lips nervously Lance said as he looked away at his hands. “I’m sure there’s some kind of compromise we can reach with this.”
Iso made a sound of dismissal.
But Lance still continued. “I don’t think letting the public have access to the lion is exactly a bad idea. Widening our pool of candidates can never be a bad thing,” he looked to Shiro. “Right?”
Shiro gave another nod, but this time the meaning was much less clear.
“We already have the five candidates ready.” A councilmen spoke. “If the green lion did not pick on its own there is no reason to think the most worthy is outside of our candidates. I assure you we compile a list of the most qualified.”
“Was Shiro on your list for Black?”
Startled, Lance realized it was Hunk that had said that.
“Was I ever on your list?” As always Hunk’s compassionate nature shone through but there was a punch to his words to accompany.
“We’re on the brink of war with the Galra!” Iso hissed. “We can’t leave this matter in the hands of the populous!”
“We would technically be leaving it in the hands of the divine.” Shiro’s brow moved in.
“What would be so wrong with having someone at random chosen?“ Hunk chimed in.
The Paladins of Voltron was for the first time Lance knew composed of at least half natural chosen and that was clearly begging a change. And Lance wasn’t sure how he felt about it. He’d always known the council to basically pick the next Paladins of Voltron, and thus far that had never steered them wrong. But—but the Black Lion had chosen someone unexpected and given Lance Shiro, The Yellow had given Lance his best friend… The new additions had only enhanced their team from Lance’s perspective.
“What if we widened the number of possible candidates?” Lance tried to mediate. He knew the Acolytes would never budge on a ceremonial choosing. This was still Altea after all. Everything was ceremony.
“And who would be vetting these candidates?” One council man asked.
“I would.” Shiro chimed in.
Blinking, Lance looked over at his mate. As if Shiro didn’t have enough to do with the King unable to serve and Altea in a chaotic state.
“I can make sure we bring those you deem worthy but also bring a new perspective to it, look out side the councils normal scope.” Shiro continued.
Hunk next to Lance gave a solid nod, clearly satisfied.
At least one of them was. Iso on Shiro’s right crossed his arms over his chest. His body language spoke enough that he wasn’t in favor. Though Lance could still smell the tinge in the air of an agitated Alpha.
“And how many candidates will we present?” A council man continued to push. “Will five more do? will twenty? It will make no difference if the Paladin chosen is that from the councils pool.”
Shiro’s chin raised just slightly.
Wishing Lance was closer to Shiro, he would have extended his hand out to him if he could have. he knew the narrowing of those eyes. He’d seen it in the arena, he’d seen it when Allura had entered the ring. ..
“We will just have to see then won’t we,” Shiro said. There was an edge of stubbornness in his words Lance hadn’t ever heard from him. “I’ll make it even. I’ll contribute five more candidates to the pool. It’s completely fair that way.”
Shiro was already standing, marking the dismissal of the Paladins and the council men.
“If that will satisfy the council on this matter, I have plenty of other things to get to, and have spent far too long on this matter already.”
Lance winced at Shiro’s words. He quickly stood as well.
But before Lance could even step closer to Shiro, the Black Paladin was off at a swift stride again. Coran was keeping up quickly and handing Shiro the next order of business on the docket as they walked. Shiro stopped for just a moment issuing orders to the captain of the guard. It was something Lance didn’t fully catch, probably setting a watch on the Green Lion in the hangars. Before Shiro even left the room his head was tipped down to look over the data pad in his hands.
Turning, Lance saw Hunk looking at him. His hands were fidgety before him as he stepped closer to Lance.
“Look buddy,” Hunk tried to start. He looked down awkwardly. “About the other day, at the Spring Day festivals…”
Lance lit up as he remembered. “Hunk, No—“ He held up his hands. “It was totally my bad, I overreacted.”
“Well,” Hunk tipped his head. “I’m not gonna say you didn’t, but look man,” He gave Lance his characteristic easy smile. “It was partly my fault too.”
He gave a hesitant gesture to the door. “I never meant to imply anything about Shiro.” he frowned, scratching the back of his head, “Or the princess Allura.”
Lance waved it off. “No-no!” He looked around. The room had cleared and it was just the two of them. “Look, I actually talked to Shiro kind of about it.” he scratched at his neck. “And you’re right I think. There’s some stuff I gotta work out with all this.”
Hunk blinked. “I never meant—“
“I know!” Lance rushed in. “It’s just—“ Lance wasn’t sure how to explain it. “Thank you for pushing me.” He landed on. “You’re right. There are some questions I should be asking and haven’t been, not till you made me look at all this with a different lens.”
Hunk tried to be subtle about it. but the big guy was never really subtle about much as he glanced around the room. This wasn’t the place to have any sort of private conversation. There were too many places to hide. Too many ways for someone to hear.
“If you need me…” Hunk trailed.
Lance shook his head. “I don’t have any answers yet,” He gave a smile though. “But I’m asking because you pushed me.” Lance stepped forward and rest his hand at Hunk’s arm for just a moment.
When Lance turned to leave, Hunk grabbed at his hand. “I’m here you know. Whenever you need anything, I’m here.”
It was typical Hunk. Lance just smiled before letting his friend pull him into a bear hug.
After dinner, Lance still managed to evade a good portion of anyone that might want anything from him. Wandering between the pillars leading back out to the garden Terrace, Lance knew it would be deserted and nothing sounded better then seeing the moon flowers burst open as Varr and Mai showed their faces over head.
Shiro had been absent from dinner, which didn’t surprise Lance. His sister had been there though, talking with the men around her in hushed and serious tones.
Communications between the Altean and the Galra were becoming heated and strenuous. Lance had eaten as quickly as possible before as always employing his best tactic of running from his problems.
Between the vast and towering pillars, Lance could see that Varr was already visible through the clouds. It’s milky white appearance due to it’s thick atmosphere was lovely.
Lance smiled as he stopped , resting a hand on a pillar as he looked at it. A thought occurred to him suddenly. That’s where Keith had said Shiro was from. Lance wondered what it was like. The one time Lance had been to Varr it had been cold. So very cold! He’d spent the entire trip in five layers and a parka.
It was subtle but Lance turned, thinking his mind was playing tricks on someone. He was thinking of Shiro so the wind must be playing tricks on him. But as he concentrated, Lance realized—there was murmuring. He could hear… his mate. Lance knew the feeling, that voice played him like a harp, Turning he drifted to another pillar closer to the Garden Terrace.
“Keith this isn’t the time for you to get all self righteous,” Shiro’s voice held annoyance.
“Look, he was an ass to me this morning!” Keith groaned. “So I didn’t keep tabs on him one day.” He seemed to change his mind. “It would have been stranger after the argument we had if I had persisted.”
“Then try following at a distance,” Shiro growled in return. “You’ve ran reconnaissance before, don’t try to pass off to me that you don’t know how.”
Keith made an aggravated sound. “I don’t know why you’re even having me bother!”
“He’s the Prince of Altea!”
Lance was suddenly frozen where he stood. His heart started to pound in his ears. His hand on the stone pillar felt incredibly distant.
“Ha!” Keith’s laugh was so full of mocking it grated across Lance’s spine horribly unpleasant, early enough to crumble him. “That stuck up little pompous prick, he can't think past his own nose I don't know how you expect—“
The growl from Shiro at that moment was so visceral It stopped Lance’s breath. He physically flinched at the sound his eyes squeezing shut for just a few seconds. His Omega brain even supplied a healthy dose of, ///submit, submit, submit./// But Lance stayed where he was, opening his eyes as he looked back up. He couldn’t see them. They sounded close, just around the pillar on the terrace possibly.
It was several long seconds of silence then.
“Shiro,” Keith’s voice was back to normal levels. “This is getting in very deep.”
“I don’t need you to tell me that.”
“This will end.” Keith went on. “The pieces are already laid out on the board. You can’t expect—”
What ever stopped Keith in that moment, Lance wasn’t sure. He didn’t dare move closer to see. The growl from Shiro—it still echoed in his ears. It had been—it wasn’t a sound he’d ever heard before.
The silence stretched out a few more ticks before Shiro spoke.
“I need you to keep watch over him.” Shiro’s voice was calm as ever. “You’re right, things are heating up fast. There are unknown variables we have to rule out. I need a watch on him.”
Keith gave a huff. But after a tick. “Fine. But I hate it, I just want you to know that.”
Shiro gave his own sigh before a chuckle. “Have you considered trying to be nice to him?”
“He basically told me he was better than me today!” Keith growled back, but it was banter, there was a playfulness to it. “Why would I be nice to a person like that?”
“I’m sure that wasn’t a one-sided development—“ Shiro was playfully accommodating the banter.
Keith interrupted with a huff. “Do you have any idea how much indulgent time he spends?”
“I’m sure to you quite a lot of his behavior seems indulgent.”
“He goes to these gardens everyday!” Keith growled. “And I don’t know what the fuck he even does here!”
Shiro’s voice was a smooth playfulness this time. “I could be wrong, but it’s quite possible he enjoys it here.”
“There's nothing to do here! Except get lost! He just wonders around, and he’s got this look on his face like he’s trying to think but his brain too small to manage it. And do you know how hard to is to keep track of him in these gardens? Their designed impossibly hard to navigate.”
“Keith,” it was a warning tone.
Keith gave another growling huff. “You should know though…”
In the pause, Lance was finding it hard to breathe again.
“The Princess Allura was here with him the other day.” Keith went on, his voice slipping into a tone of all business. “I couldn’t get close enough without being spotted by one of her guards, but whatever they talked about it made them both pretty angry. Lance left at practically a run and his sister—I wouldn’t have wanted to be in her way when she stormed back to the palace.”
There was a pause before Shiro spoke up. “He told me something had happened.” Another short pause probably because Shiro was moving, giving a gesture or a expression. Whatever it was it was lost on Lance’s end.
The absents of seeing body language at that moment hit Lance. He never realized how much he relied on it before.
“If something like it happens again—let it play out. It could bare some information we need out. ”
Lance could almost hear a smug smirk in Keith's words. “I figured that’s the route you’d wanna take.”
Shiro gave another rumbling chuckle.
“You know,” Keith started. “I’m glad you asked me to come.”
Lance’s brow furrowed in confusion.
“I needed someone I trust.” There was a pause. “If there’s anyone in the universe I should be able to trust—it would be you.”
Lance was grateful at that moment his shoes were the soft supple leather ones he forgot to change before heading for the gardens. They were particularly silent and as he backed away he couldn’t pick up any sound from his sliding foot steps.
Keith was speaking again, mumbling something about Shiro going soft. There was a growled reply Lance couldn’t make out.
Because Lance was already escaping.
Once he was a good four pillars away he broke into a run, aiming for the first set of steps down to the gardens he wound around through the hedges and walk ways before he was certain this time he was alone.
His hands went to his face as he tried to process. His mate—Keith was really stalking him? Shiro had ordered it? Goddess, not an ounce of anything was making sense anymore.
Lance took up the first bench he came across, looking down at his shaking hands. “How could—“ His hand clamped around his mouth as he realized he’d uttered the words out loud.
As he looked across the gardens his sisters words came to mind.
///it feels as if the world has been tipped upside down doesn’t it?
//Upside down and set on fire.
Lance blinked he could feel the heat now. He’d been joking then, but now— he wrapped his arms around himself trying to calm his breathing.
Put Line Here
He wasn’t sure he could go back to their rooms. What was Lance to say to Shiro? He was having him followed? That was—it was ridiculous, is what it was! There was no reason?
Did Shiro not trust Lance?
But over what? Lance hadn’t done anything!
Lance quickly found his feet were carrying him back through the palace, and down through the winding steps to the hangars. It was dark. The bowels of the palace may be the home of the great lions of Voltron, but they weren’t exactly well traveled.
The soft blue lights overhead, smoothly followed Lance’s progress. It reminded Lance who he was. Everything in this castle was meant to answer his beck and call. It was all attuned to his whims. His life force was fused with this place, with his people.
Lance looked up, his own revelries had kept him from noticing a couple of guards stopped just ahead of him. One was tall, solidly built but slender. The other was more compact, and much shorter. They wore red allegiance armor.
They looked at each other for a moment before back at Lance. “What are you doing down here?”
“I—“ Lance shook his head. “I’m here on my own business.” It was a brisk answer, but he wasn’t in the mood to humor anyone.
Stepping to the side, Lance meant to continue around them, until a guard blocked his path.
“Maybe we should escort you back to the main halls?” A guard asked.
Lance shot back with an expression of disbelief. Was this really happening? “No, no.” He said with a shake of his head. “I’m quite fine, thank you.”
“My lord,” the other guard tried to reason. “It’s late. I’m sure Paladin Shiro is expecting you back in your rooms, yes?”
Lance was a Prince, not a child. And his chin tipped up at that moment as he looked at the two guards. “Pardon me? What does Paladin Shiro have to do with me being down here?”
The short guards looked nervous at that. “I—I didn’t mean…”
“Are you here on his orders?” Lance lowered his brow as he spoke. His hands fisted at his sides.
“We are here on strict orders.” The taller one, the one blocking Lance’s path. “No one is to be down with the Lions.”
Lances brow furrowed even further. “I am the Blue Paladin!” He hissed. “If I want to be down here with my lion, I have full right to be.”
“Sir, I really think you should return back upstairs.” It was the tall one again. He had a set expression.
“Pac,” The smaller one said in quiet tone.
Lance shook his head and went to step around them again. “This is ridiculous,” He waved them off. “If I want to see my lion it’s fully in my right to do so.”
A hand snatched out then, startling Lance as it latched onto his arm.
“Please excuse me, Your Highness,” The tall one said, pulling Lance a step back. “But I need to escort you back up to the main hall.”
Lance was so in shock—no one… No one was allowed to touch him.
No one except Shiro.
This man’s touch was nothing—it was nothing like Shiro’s. Shiro’s big hands, even that metal hand was always so gentle with Lance, even when Lance had been writhing in agony in Shiro’s lap, He’d never roughly grabbed him. He’d never hurt him with his touch.
He was pulled along, almost reaching the stairs even before Lance came back to him. Setting his jaw, he wretched his arm away from the guard.
“Excuse you,” Lance hissed. “But I did not give you permission to handle me in anyway.”
The guard narrowed his gaze. “I don’t think you understand, Your Highness.”
Lance narrowed his own gaze. “My understanding isn’t the issue here. It’s yours. I’m—“ before he could finish the guard had him again and was yanking Lance up the stairs.
“I’m escorting you back to your room, Your Highness.”
Lance was completely speechless, and he was forced to stumble up the stair all the way up into the main halls.
“Let go of me!” He finally managed. He yanked back, almost tumbling down a few stairs but managed to hold his balance.
The second guard was approaching quickly. “You have to understand, Your Highness, we can’t let anyone down here.”
Lance shook his head. “I’m the prince!”
And it felt like it was a concept that was meaning less every time he said it.
There was a guard on both sides this time and Lance found himself very forcefully hauled up the stairs.
“I’m sorry, your highness,” the shorter spoke.
Lance stumbled out into the main hall, before he thrust his elbow out, catching the shorter one on the chin and pulling away.
“Don’t touch me,” Lance hissed.
The guard gave a yelp and clutched at his face.
The other was much stronger though and his grip on Lance’s arm constricted to neigh painful. “Just a little farther, my ///Prince.” He hissed the last like it was an insult.
This—none of this had ever… Lance had never even considered any of this happening. This wasn’t—
Giving a snarl, Lance stumbled back and yanked himself back from the guard. “Let go of me,” The words echoed in the now vast halls. From farther down the hall near the throne room entrance another guard’s interest was piqued. They were close to the entryway hall, on the other side. Lance could hear the water of the fountain even.
“Please sir,” it was the shorter one, his chin was red, at least it looked like Lance had left a bruise possibly. “Just let us escort you to your rooms, Your Highness.”
Lance shook his head at the guard.
He was seized again by the taller one then. Hands on both his arms, he was directed to the hallways leading to the royal quarters. Before the guard tried to reach back around Lance, reach back to the back of his neck…
Lance struggled away quickly this time, ducking the head and skittering out of the guards hold on him. “I said don’t touch me!” he hissed. his footing widened, his mind finally working its way into a combative state. He knew how to fight—he’d been taught since he was young. This would simply be his first—his first time needing it.
The taller guard was clearly seeing red as he glared at Lance. “You’re to return to your rooms,” he said low his voice dipped into a tone very familiar.
Lance realized then, horribly. He was facing an Alpha. The scent wafting off him was unmistakable. He stepped forward and made no attempt at hiding it this time as he reached for Lance’s neck.
Lance stepped back, shaking his head.
This was also the first time—Lance felt nothing but revulsion for the Alpha before him. The Acolytes hadn’t been wrong, Lance’s new mark was now only attuned to one. And it wasn’t the sorry man standing before Lance.
“What’s going on here?” It was—Lance blinked a couple of times.
Keith was looking at the guard with narrowed eyes. His approach was casual enough, though his gait had picked up as his eyes flicked to Lance and he zeroed in.
“Pardon us,” It was the shorter guard. “His Highness isn’t feeling well, we’re just returning him to his rooms.”
“Lance?” Keith’s gaze pinpointed to Lance. “Is that true?”
For once, Lane felt no urge to correct Keith. He was panting, his heart racing and loud in his ears. He opened his mouth but nothing would come so in the end he just shook his head, not breaking eye contact with Keith.
Keith gave a curt nod and turned, hollering down the hallway to one of the King’s Guards standing near the entryway. “Get me Shiro,” His voice reminded Lance of Shiro’s then, grating so close to a growl the words rumbled in a way only an Alpha could produce.
A grappling hand was suddenly at the back of Lance’s neck, The guard was pinching his fingers hard at the base of Lance’s skull—searching…
Lance let out a cry, but before he could even move— there was a whoosh and grating snarl as the guard was thrown back. In an instant, Keith was taking a fighters stance between Lance and the two guards.
“He said don’t touch him,” Keith’s voice was still low.
There were two more Kings Guard stepping up.
“Your Hiighness?” One asked. “Are you alright?”
“I’m—“ Lance’s arm went up to his face, pressing the back of his palm to his mouth. He was so unsure. “I’m fine.”
“Take these two into custody.” Keith’s voice boomed into his own full Alpha tone. Keith didn’t look away from his glare at the two. “Their conduct has been entirely inappropriate.”
The two new Kings Guard exchanged looks before flanking Keith, both narrowing their gaze as they approached the two Red Allegiance guards.
Lance jerked so hard he gasped.
Striding in from the entryway, flanked by his own set of Black Allegiance Guards was Shiro. He wore another deep black cloak around his shoulders, making his already imposing stature even more pronounced.
His long strides took him straight to Lance.
“Lance, what happened?” Shiro raised his hand and reached for Lance.
It was unintentionally, but Lance flinched a step away. He felt —he was so—this man was another Alpha. Lance felt utterly surrounded by them.
Luckily, Shiro seemed to recognize what ever was going on and slowly he lowered his hands, keeping them where Lance could still see them.
“Keith.” It wasn’t a question. Shiro jerked his head to his friend.
As if from some script, Keith immediately launched into a full mission report. “I just shortly arrived, but from what I could tell these men were trying to escort His Highness back to his rooms. Unfortunately for them, Lance didn’t want to go. He ordered them to ‘let him go,’ and they disobeyed.” Keith turned his head to Shiro then, his brow lowering. “The horse faced one also reached for your mate’s secondary glands, probably in an effort to placate him.”
The slow turn of Shiro’s head was chilling. Under a thick brow, his eyes lit with an emotion Lance hadn’t seen from Shiro thus far.
“Lance,” Shiro didn’t turn to him as he asked. His eyes were trained on the Red guards now cornered. “Is that all that happened?”
Swallowing, Lance wasn’t sure at that moment what he wanted. What ever he was about to say, it would determine the fate of the men before him. With a rush of air, Lance tried to pick a road hopefully less likely to get someone killed.
“They were ordered to keep everyone from downstairs, to not allow anyone in to the hangars and near the lions.” Lance gulped at air. “It was me. I wanted to see Blue.” He knew he was rambling a bit, but he felt a great need to explain himself. “I just really needed to see her, and be with her and —I tried to push back at them to get through to Blue. They were following orders.”
The answer didn’t seem to satisfy Shiro.
“Get them to their knees,” Shiro growled as he prowled a step closer, he was already holding out his hand and Keith near him was presenting a long dagger with a jagged edge.
Lance hurried forward, sliding in between the Red guards and his mate. “No, Shiro.”
Tipping his head down to his mate, Shiro opened his mouth after a moment, looking as if he was to say something.
They all looked up to see the Princess Allura stepping closer.
This was drawing far more attention than Lance had intended. He almost hid his face in his hands at that moment.
“Princess,” Shiro acknowledged.
“What’s going on?”
Lance turned his face away. He didn’t want to answer that question anymore, especially since he felt like he didn’t know. He’d lost so much control over the whole situation.
It was a Kings Guard to speak up. “His Royal Highness the Prince was accosted by two guards stationed in the lion hangars.”
Lance winced. Accosted wasn’t exactly the word for it. But now that he was looking around. They’d attracted several courtiers and noble men and women. They were rather close to the throne rooms, it was only logical the commotion would spark interest.
“Lance,” Allura said in a tone that clearly indicated she wasn’t pleased. “What did you do?”
Lance winced. He turned his head towards his sister but didn’t look up. “I just wanted to go down to the hangars.”
Allura crossed her arms. “Until the Green Lion has been presented with the new Paladin candidates, the hangars are off limits.” she sighed. “You should know that.”
Shiro’s hand was steady and moved slow as it touched down on Lance’s shoulder, drawing him in. “What business would the Blue Paladin have with the Green Lion?”
Lance welcomed the embrace possibly more then he should have and stepped closer. The idea of hiding in Shiro’s arms was far too appealing.
“Exactly, nothing.” Allura concluded. “Lance, you should have just left when you were asked—“
“I meant, there’s no reason he should have been stopped.” The chilling tone in Shiro’s voice was evident. “If you would please, Princess,” Shiro went on. “I was just about to issue punishment.”
Allura blinked. “Paladin,” She stammered. “We have courts—there are procedures!”
“One of them touched Lance’s secondary glands.” Keith hissed. “They’ve violated his highness express orders to not touch him and tried to even take it a step farther. That’s an insult to Shiro as well. It’s his place to deal out punishment.”
The hall way was deathly quiet at that moment. Allura stood stalk still a few feet away, her gaze on Shiro.
“Shiro,” Lance grasped at his mate’s dark cloak. “I’m fine.” he finally looked up at him. “They didn’t hurt me.”
Shiro blinked at him for a moment, his expression precisely unreadable.
“What punishment would you see fit?” He asked with a controlled expression still.
For the first time since he’d entered into this mess, Lance felt like an easy breath left him. “Suspend them, send them home.”
The nod Shiro gave was very carful, controlled. He shifted to look at a noble men standing near. “General Tsai?”
The man had a narrow gaze, much like every other Alpha in the room. “Paladin Shiro,” It was a warm greeting, a greeting of solidarity despite being respectful.
“This is our Prince,” Shiro gestured to Lance, as if presenting him. “As his mate, I find I don’t always have a clear head when thinking about anything that concerns him, would you advice I do as His Highness suggests? Would you let them go home?”
The general seemed to consider before he looked Shiro in the eye as he spoke. “No, Paladin, I wouldn’t.”
Lance suddenly felt very pale. He swallowed. And his fingers clambered at Shiro’s uniform. “Sh-shiro,” he tried again, but his voice cracked. The arena flashed in Lance’s mind. The way Shiro had so mercilessly powered through every victory…
Shiro’s gaze flicked down to Lance for just a moment before looking back up.
“Paladin Shiro,” Allura took another step forward.
She was silenced though as Shiro raised his hand.
Silence fell over the entire hall immediately.
How quickly he had taken complete charge of the room and exactly when, was a mystery to Lance. Especially since the remains of the royal family was standing right there.
“I’ll give you a compromise.” His tone suggested he was speaking to everyone, but his eyes were on Lance.
His gaze fleeted up to Keith then. “How many times did Lance tell them not to touch him?”
“I heard him say it twice.” Keith supplied.
Shiro gave a shallow nod. “Alright,” He tipped his head down to Lance. He pushed his hand up into Lance’s and interlaced their fingers, pulling them up to press his lips to Lance’s knuckles. “They can go home.” His bone-cold tone made it clear they were never to return to the palace again either. He turned his gaze up to the King’s men around them. “After a hand is removed from each of them.”
“Shiro,” Lance desperately gasped for air as he tried to step closer and into his mates arms. “That’s—that’s too far.”
Shiro tipped his head. “No.”
He looked to Keith. His gaze, this time Lance could read the small message transpired. If Lance was watched before his steps would be utterly hounded now.
“It was my fault,” Lance tried again. “Allura was right, I shouldn’t have gone down there. If I just—if I had taken two-seconds to think this wouldn’t have happened.”
Shiro was already pulling Lance off to the side of him, though. He looked down at him at Lance’s desperate outburst.
“They didn’t—“ Lance shook his head. He looked to the two Red guards. They were on their knees, hands bound behind their backs. The smaller one looked utterly terrified. “I’m not hurt, They don’t deserve this.”
Shiro raised his hand to Lance’s chin, brushing his fingers under Lances jaw, skimming over the mark.
“I don’t care.” Shiro’s said in a strikingly calm voice. “They touched you.” He shook his head like that it was a completely obvious concept. “That’s unacceptable.”
He looked to the King’s Guard then, Sliding Lance out of his arms and depositing him near Coran. “See that my Prince is taken care of. He’s been quite upset.”
Coran nodded and Shiro turned back to the King’s Guard, his shoulders squaring as he strode. “I’ll oversee their punishment. Let’s get on with it.”
The men were pulled to their feet and franticly one tried to break free only to be forcefully shoved in the direction of the entryway.
Lance just stood there, feeling Coran hover closer to him. saying quiet things like, “It’s alright, Your Highness.” Lance also noticed Keith. He hung back, already starting to hover but blending back through the crowd of courtiers. As Shiro and his associated guard left the chatter was already staring up.
Across from them all, Lance looked up to see his sister.
She looked stunned. Her eyes flicked up to look at Lance.
he sucked in a sharp breath.
She was angry.
With no further adua, she turned on her heels and was leaving, taking a good portion of the courtiers with her at a much slower pace.
“That man is what this kingdom needs.” A man in a stately military uniform said to his shorter wife.
The woman scolded him with a shushing sound.
They were behind Lance, off to his side and he could hear other soft murmuring as well. None of it was—it was all in support.
Another man persisted. “With everything going on,” He snorted. “At least there’s someone willing to do the things that need done in this castle.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen royal law so swiftly executed.”
“That Black Paladin isn’t a man I’d quarrel with, and we may be better off for it.”
Lance closed his eyes and turned to face Coran.
“I want to go down to see Blue.”
If Lance was seeking of her gentle purr before he was desperate for it now.
“Absolutely, Your Highness.” Coran gave a brisk nod and quickly cleared the way for them down to the stairs again leading down to the hangars.
Lance knew that Keith was keeping his distance but he shifted subtly as Lance passed him. He’d be pursuing after him probably at the first opportunity. Lance couldn’t find it in him though to fight it, to confront the issue. It wasn’t like his life already wasn’t constantly watched.
“Coran?” Lance asked as they were finally alone, trailing down the halls.
Coran stopped next to him. “Yes, Your Highness?”
“Who issued the orders that no one was allowed down in the hangars?” Lance didn’t lift his eyes. “After the council meeting this morning, who issued those orders?”
Coran blinked, he stalled for just a moment before answering after clearing his throat. “Paladin Shiro, of course.”
Lance nodded. He wasn’t sure he had it in him to do anything else. “Thank you, Coran.” he waved a dismissal gesture. “I think I’ll be fine from here on my own from here.” Keith was probably only a few steps away as it was.
“As you wish, Your Highness.”
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