Two Shadows Went, Chapter 7
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
It took only a week for Shiro to compile his own candidates for the Green Paladin consideration pool. As always he’d been ruthless, brisk and entirely businesslike in his selection. Coran told Lance he’d looked over 300 profiles of Alteans viable for the position. He’s personally sat in on the screening of 50 and before talking to 20 himself.
And now all five of his candidates stood before them.
As in all things, it was a ceremony, so Lance stood next to his sister in the massive hanger for the Green Lion. Behind them was the proper assembly of acolytes and courtiers. It was a small affair, only the closest to the throne allowed at the choosing. Across the room, Shiro stood with the red paladin at his ear and a few councilmen around him. From the grave look on his face, Lance guessed that Shiro wasn’t listening to what ever Iso was saying. No, his eye were on the candidates, scanning over them as he waited.
Before them was the great, agile Green Lion. On a pedestal, just beyond the green lit barrier hovered the green Paladin’s Bayard.
In a half circle around the Green Lion was assembled the candidates. It was alternating between a pick of Shiro’s and a pic from the Council. Each wore a simple form fitting black pilot suit. It was the same worn under all Paladin Armor. It also gave off a sense of uniformity among them.
There was a chime from over head, signaling that it was time to begin.
The first candidate stepped forward, a Council pick, and outstretched his hand as he encountered the barrier.
Unfortunately for him, despite his confidant demeanor, the barrier didn’t even flicker.
Shiro’s first pick stepped forward.
As well the boy was rejected.
The councils pick stepped forward swiftly.
There was a flicker of the barrier, but ultimately—rejected.
Shiro’s second pick stepped forward.
Lance cocked his head at the small—person. Was it a girl? If it was, her shape was really androgynous. With big round glasses over her face, Lance couldn’t tell her expression as her quiet, short steps took her to the particle barrier. She looked so young though, maybe only fourteen, fifteen at the most.
She didn’t even raise her hand, just gazed up at the lion, and the barrier slammed down, allowing her entrance.
Straightening, Lance couldn’t help the sly smile on his face.
The small mousy haired girl smoothly crossed into the Green Lions circle and took a hold of the green Bayard. She looked up then, to Shiro.
He wore his own smile, this time one—satisfied, and oddly secretive as he gave her a brisk nod.
The girl turned and held up the Bayard.
The room broke into applause and the small crowd assembled, and started to move forward to congratulate the new Green Paladin.
Lance stayed where he stood though, watching across the room to his mate. Shiro had turned more at ease now that he spoke to a red faced council man confronting him. Lance knew that easy smile though, It would be a matter of second before Shiro brushed any concern away and got what he wanted. Lance was starting to realize—Shiro was a meticulous planner.
And then there was a party.
It was the royal palace after all, if there was an excuse to have a party, why not have a party?
Lance deposited an empty flute off to one of the hovering servants around before he picked up another. He usually enjoyed these sorts of things. Who didn’t love a party after all?
This one though, was exceptionally crowded. Since Shiro’s unexpected choosing it had been a bit of juicy gossip to see what would happen with the Green Lion. Even the emissaries of Balmera had returned which meant—Lance was riding solo. Hunk snatched up ever opportunity he had to be with Shay. Not that it was surprising, trying to hold up an intergalactic relationship sounded exhausting.
Lance sighed as he drifted to the edge of the room. Holding up a relationship right here at home was exhausting.
Since—everything, Lace had barely seen Shiro. Most of his interactions with his mate happened late at night when Shiro would slide over Lance, smoothing their skin together. It was always way late, usually Lance had already fallen asleep. Blearily he’d register Shiro removing his shirt, and then Lance’s shirt, and whispering hushed little nothings to him, as Shiro coaxed Lance into laying in his arms as they slept. By first light, Shiro was gone again and Lance would be left with Keith…
The thought suddenly occurred and Lance looked around himself. Where was his raised by wolves stalker? Lance hadn’t seen him all day. That was odd for his creepy mullet headed shadow.
Lance spotted his sister, she was laughing and surrounded by a group of emissaries and courtiers all chattering away to her. No doubt they were hoping for sway on one policy or another ultimately.
It was entirely disinteresting and Lance turned away to look out through the massive columns to the terraces. With the grand ballroom occupied with such a great fan faire, the windowed doors had been opened and the sleek gauzy fabric of the white curtains drifted slightly with the evening breeze. Between them Lance could just make out… the girls mousey messy hair was hard to miss. The rest of her had been utterly transformed of course. She wore royal Green Paladin Armor accented even with a short cape. A green jeweled circlet sat on her head as well.
She boosted her self up onto the thick stone railing of the terrace and looked out and up to the stars.
Looking around one more time, Lance couldn’t spot any better offers so he snatched up an extra flute and trailed closer, out into the warm night air.
“How’s it feel to be apart of the team?” Lance asked as a smile spread.
The girl jerked in his director. Her narrow eyes ran over Lance like she was scanning for a virus before resting on him.
Lance offered the crisp bubbly drink out. “Katie, right?”
Those narrow eyes only slendered more as the new green Paladin took the flute.
“I prefer Pidge.” Her voice didn’t exactly hold a lot of warmth either.
Lance still tried to smile. “Oh cool. I’m—“
“I know who you are.” Pidge cut in with the bite of words.
And you’re rude, Lances brow lowered. But he still drifted closer. “Oh yeah?”
“Shiro explained you’re his mate.” Pidge said briskly.
Lance nodded. “Yes. We’re life-bonded.”
“You mean you were arranged or in your case ordered to life-bond.” Pidge cut in again.
Lance wasn’t sure how to answer. It wasn't obviously not true.
Pidge gave a snort. “Figures that archaic practice would still be fashionable here.”
This time, Lance looked over the smaller Green Paladin more critically. She was short, like he’d observed young. His current estimation sat at 16 but the way she spoke suggested a bit older. She was Altean, her ears like most curved downward. Her eye marking were perfect triangles in a bright green that accented her gleaming gaze well. Her expression was shrewd and— striking, like she was a viper curled and ready to strike the second someone came closer.
Lance set his own flute down on the stone railing. “I wouldn’t say its fashionable, It’s entirely uncommon.”
“Right,” Pidge sounded like she was humoring him.
Tipping his head, Lance held out his arms to Pidge. “I’m sorry, is there something I’ve done—“
“It’s more like what you haven’t done.” Pidge’s mallous dipped voice was clear in intent. She turned back to look at the sky.
Lance sucked in a breath. This was always the hard part about being a Prince. He was expected to deal with this gracefully. And yet still not appear weak. Yeah—right. He’d sure manage that.
“I’m sorry,” He tried.
“You don’t even know what you’re apologizing for,”
Standing there, Lance wasn’t sure what was the best thing to do at that moment.
Fine, his brain finally supplied if that was how this was going to go, Lance could at least wrangle some answers here.
“How do you know Shiro?”
Pidge just kept looking up at the sky. “Everyone knows Shiro.”
Lance frowned. That was unfortunately how it seemed but that didn’t answer his question.
“And you specifically?” Lance pressed. “The things you’ve said about him suggest you knew him before becoming the Green Paladin.”
Pidge’s gaze turned over to Lance. “I’m not so sure you want all that much info on him, //your highness.”
What the hell was that supposed to mean? Mouth agape, Lance was having a hard time following where this girl wanted Lance to end up.
“I’m bored,” Pidge huffed as she pushed off from the railing and was already leaving Lance standing there.
And that’s all Lance really could do is just stand there.
He wasn’t even sure he could piece together what happened. But there was a few things he was realizing—and ‘the new Green Paladin hated him,’ was at the top of the list.
Even though the Green Paladin had walked out on her own party, that didn’t stop the rest of court from continuing. Lance wasn’t even sure most of them even knew there was no Green Paladin in sight.
After making another turn of the room, Lance felt—well for the first time possibly ever he missed mullet-head. Keith wasn’t great company, but he stayed by Lance and at least talked to him.
It was odd, the feeling—Lance couldn’t even place what his fluttering heart in his chest was from. He hadn’t taken up another drink since watching Pidge ditching her own soure. He’d tried to find Hunk but that was to no avail. Several courtiers had tried to talk to him, it just—Lance wasn’t sure anymore but it felt like such posturing all the time at court. He wasn’t sure he could survive their masked glances and veiled requests
So with a sigh of resignation, Lance started on his way to his rooms. His sister wouldn’t be happy with him. But this show—Lance huffed. When did he start thinking like this? He used to love these things? He loved laughing and goofing around and talking to people. When did he start seeing all of this as a circus? As one giant mask?
Maybe it was somewhere along the lines of not being able to see his father in the last month or maybe when Shiro had bit down on his neck…
Lance was already to his door, slipping past the guards and wiggling out from Coran’s nose was easier than Lance had expected. He looked around him. It was so quiet. The halls were all dark. And when Lance slid open the door to the Black Paladin rooms it was dark in there as well.
It was a change, Lance kind of liked it so he left the light off as he trailed into the room. A bath sounded so nice right then. Lance tugged off his stiff, regal jacket, resting it on the bed before he went to his vanity. There was a million little pins and trinkets to remove from his uniform before Lance could properly take it off.
Actually thinking about it, Lance smiled. There were candles and a book in his parlor as well. That would be amazing.
Finishing the removal of his finer wear, Lance kicked off his shoes at the foot of their bed before he trailed back into their entryway and turned into the small parlor that was his. He found the candles first thing, and tucked a couple under his arm, before he moved the door to shut so he could peruse his book case.
That’s when he heard the sound of the entry door opening.
Lance perked and shifted. That’s when the smell hit him and he smiled.
His mate was home. Oh this bath was about to get seven times better. Lance’s soundless barefoot steps halted though as he peered through the crack of the door way, his hand was on the knob, ready to slide the door open— when he noticed another scent.
Beta, female, and not remotely Altean.
And staring through the crack of the door way straight across into Shiro’s office—she was pretty.
Shiro was all business as he waved his hand for the light to spring on in his office.
Lance took a step back, making an effort not to be noticed. His hand went to his mouth to still his breathing.
The woman gave a whistle as she peered around in the entry way. “So this is what being the Black Paladin has earned you.”
She was long with a creamy yellow skin and big solid colored blue eyes. She was slender but had enough curves to her as she looked around.
Shiro hummed in acknowledgment as he leaned back against his desk and picked up a few papers, going through them briskly.
The woman took a twirl in the room before her eyes a lighted and she fleeted into the bedroom. Lance couldn’t see into their bedroom, but his breath caught all the same.
Shiro glanced up before his brow creased. “Hey!” He barked. “Leave Lance’s things alone.”
There was a giggle from the bedroom. “But it’s all so pretty!” she gave another cute giggle. “And sparkly.”
Shiro’s eyes twinged with an irritated expression but he still said calmly. “Please come out of our bedroom.”
“You must have the most stereotypical Omega!” the woman exclaimed as she leapt from the room, showing off—Lance’s silver circlet. “Tell me, does he moan like one as well?”
The circlet was finely detailed and richly jeweled with deep sapphires. It was a masterpiece of workmanship. It has also—Lance had been christened as Second Prince of Altea in that circlet. He’d been fourteen and the circlet had kept slipping into his eyes. He'd more adequately grown into it since…
His eyes went wide. He knew it was valuable to this woman on an entirely different level—but at that moment—it stung. It was his. It was something so uniquely his and she was prancing around mocking it.
The folded file in Shiro’s hand snapped closed as he crossed the room in three powerful strides.
He snatched the circlet from her head, growling, “Take that off,”
The girl just giggled and twirled her way closer to Shiro.
“Oh, but it’s so sparkly!” Her words somehow managed to sound sarcastic even as she giggled.
She leaned into Shiro, her—Lance paled just a bit. She pressed herself completely into Shiro as she playfully reached for the circlet.
“Nyma,” Shiro’s irate expression leaked the growl.
She only smiled in return before popping forward—
And pecked a kiss to Shiro’s lips.
It might have been more had Shiro’s metal hand not struck out, clamping onto her throat and thrusting her away.
“Ohhh, we gonna play rough tonight, daddy?” the alien Lance now knew named Nyma purred up to Shiro seductively.
Lance had to lock his limbs, watching wide eyed in the small crack as his— mate— Shiro— Lance tried to gasp for air as quietly as he could past the hands clenched over his mouth.
Shiro’s expression still showed signs of irritation but smoothed into his usual blank stoic mask as he pushed the woman away. He went to the small entry way table, the one—Lance had so many memories of Shiro at that table. The night his bond mark had been revealed he could still vividly see Shiro’s devouring gaze on it through the mirror on the wall over head.
Carefully, Shiro set the circlet down.
“I’m not one of your targets, Ny.” Shiro said as if he was tired of her antics, he turned back to his office again.
Nyma gave a huff. “I never said you were.”
Her tone had changed. It was showing it’s own signs of irritation.
Shiro had stepped behind his desk, picking the folder of papers back up as he looked over at her.
“I don’t have the patience to get into this right now with you.” He said matter of factly.
She cocked a hand on her hip. “Since when was my attention such a burden to you?” She pressed.
Shiro looked like he was about to roll his eyes. Instead he straightened up to his full height a bit more. “I know you still think that—“
“We never stopped, Shiro!” She hissed at him.
Shiro’s brow creased. “I’m not sure I’ve given you the correct assumption, but what ever the hell you and I have done together, it was merely out of connivence.”
She stalked closer. “Oh god, don’t flatter yourself so much!” Her ams crossed as she approached Shiro.
Shiro regarded her cooly as he plucked a paper from the folder and started to fold it. When he was done he slipped it into an envelope, sealed it, and held it out to her. “Deliver this.”
Cooly and already sprouting another flirty smile, Nyma flicked her gaze down to it before with long fingers she grasped onto it and slide it slowly from Shiro’s hand.
The over sexualization of the act only seemed to deaden Shiro’s expression further.
“You know,” She started, cutely tipping her self closer to Shiro. “It was only supposed to be a charade.”
“I’ve life bonded with him.” Shiro said coldly. “I’d say that’s the opposite of a shell game.”
She barked a laugh. “I thought it was supposed to be that bitch, miss queenly.”
Shiro growled. “Watch what comes out of your mouth, Nyma.” he straightened. “This isn’t your house.”
“Oh,” Nyma cocked her head. “Big bad Shiro is a might bit suspicious?”
Shiro didn’t acknowledge, only blinked at her as if it was too idiotic of a question to even grace answering.
Nyma slid the envelope into the folds of her dress. “It was supposed to be her though, right?” She preened. “It would have made this all easier if it was her.”
Shiro did actually roll his eyes this time. “They insisted on a life-bond. Lance was the obvious choice for that.”
Nyma slid her arms up easily to gracefully slip on to Shiro’s shoulders and around his neck. “And is that perky little prince, keeping his big bad Alpha happy?” She was smiling devilishly. “Word from Keith is—“ she was already laughing. She bit at her lip as she leaned in closer again.
Shiro looked like he was dealing with a toddler and he wasn’t happy about it.
“Tell me, is it true? Is that little shit still holding out on you?”
Shiro just sighed deep and frustrated, letting a growl seep through.
“Oh he is!” Nyma concluded, as she cackled. “If only he knew what a romp in the woods with you was like. Tell me, does he have that delicious cherry ripe scent I’ve heard Alphas start drooling over?” She giggled past the— Lance almost choked. That was a joke entirely inappropriate.
She was leaning in and Lance could see—his breath had entirely stopped, she nipping at Shiro’s ear, suckling lightly at his ear lobe.
“How about another ride?” She asked. Her lips so close to Shiro’s ear.
She was thrust off with such force she had to catch herself on the desk. She pouted till Shiro grabbed her and slammed her back against the office door. He was growling low and guttural, but in a steady stream that suggested he wasn’t going to humor her teasing much longer.
Her face instantly snapped to emotionless. “You really have changed.” She whispered.
“Trust me,” He snarled. “There’s still enough of my old self here to make you very uncomfortable.”
She gave the smallest shake of her head. “I wouldn’t doubt it.” She looked over Shiro’s face again. “I’m just surprised. I didn’t believe Keith when he talked to me. I thought he was just being all brotherly again. Seems he was right.”
Shiro released her like she was something disgusting to him and stepped back.
“You know I’m going to say all of this.” She said quietly. “I was asked for a full report.”
Shiro nodded. “They’d be stupid not to ask you for all the information you’ve collected.”
Her gaze was still on Shiro, still wistful as it traced over him. “It feels like I’m ratting you out.”
That snapped Shiro’s gaze up. His eyes were narrow, mouth set in a cold line. “It was all ///entirely out of connivence,” He reminded her.
She gave a quirk of a smile.
It was a smile Lance could recognize. He’d give smiles like that. She was—very sad at that moment. But there was no way in hell she’d let anyone else know that, so she gave a coy smile.
“What a shame,” She was back to flirty. “And to think you were such a little prodigy,”
Shiro just grunted, he was standing though and gesturing to the door. “If you would.”
She glanced over Shiro one last time. “Not even a parting gift, huh?” She gave that smile again. “You really are quite ruthless.”
The huff Shiro gave sounded so bothered, Lance almost took a step back. This man—he could so easily dismiss others in every action he made—it boggled Lane’s mind. And yet, if that sound would have been made at him—Lance might have had a panic attack.
The sound of the door opening drew Lance’s attention again. Shiro held the door for the woman before following behind her. The door clicked closed behind them.
Lance still just stood there, stalk still in his small parlor. It took several seconds before he finally moved, sliding out from behind the door. Looking around the room—Lance wasn’t quite sure what to do. With stiff limbs, he went to their small entryway table, picking up the silver circlet and mechanically returned it where it belonged among Lance’s other pretty and sparkly things.
He just stood there at a his vanity again not sure—
He’d wanted a bath before this, right?
Maybe—maybe that was still good. He wasn’t sure what he’d just lived through but it was going to take some processing.
His bare feet still made little to no sound on his way back into the bathroom.
Once his feet slapped against the cold tile—Lance crumpled to the tile floor, barely catching himself on his hands and knees, easing down to sit there as he tried… His mate had just—the way that woman had been all over him… Lance felt like it was hard to breath. He blinked rapidly, trying to think through everything.
The things they were talking about—who was she reporting to? About Shiro? Who would even need a report on Shiro? And Shiro had given her something. He was sending a message? To whom?
Suddenly behind Lance the door opened. Lance flinched, but he smelled it immediately—Shiro was back in the room.
This time no one else accompanied him and Shiro took his time, removing his shoes in their bedroom and stripping his formal wear as well. By the time he was coming back into the bathroom, it looked like he was in a simple white shirt and black pants.
Lance jerked his head up to Shiro. he was on his haunches before Lance, his dark eyes on him.
He reached out, gently running a thumb along Lance’s jawline. “What do you need?”
There was such sincerity in his voice, Lance blinked rapidly again. How could he mean that?
“You knew,” Lance gasped. His head started to shake slowly. “You knew I was in the room.”
Shiro considered him for a moment, his hand shifting to pet a cross Lance’s hair in that same loving manner. “Of Course I did.” He stated. “In an enclosed space like this—I smelled you before I even opened the door.”
Lance shook his head. “You let her…” He trailed off. “The two of you, you were involved, weren’t you?”
Shiro made no effort to deceive Lance. “Yes.”
Looking back down at the floor. Lance could feel the tears welling again.
With a soft voice Shiro leaned in towards Lance. “Tell me what you need, and I’ll make it so.”
Frowning deep, Lance wasn’t even sure what to answer. He wanted— He needed—what he wanted—was Shiro.
“I—“ he tried, his gaze scurried frantically across their tile floor. “I came in here—I had just wanted a bath.” he ended simply.
Shiro didn’t react for another moment before brushing his hand back through Lance’s hair and gave a short nod. “I can get that for you.”
He went to stand before Lance’s hand shot out, clutching at him.
Shiro stopped, not brushing Lance’s weak hold away.
“What was that—?” Lance asked, so confused.
“Lance,” Shiro’s voice was still deep but so quiet. “I need you to trust me.” He started out very earnestly. “Everything I’m doing is to keep you safe.”
“Is she spying for us?” Lance concluded finally looking up. “Is that what all that was about?”
Shiro regarded him cooly before he gave another nod. “Yes. Of sorts. She collects information. She also peddles her collected data to anyone willing to pay for it.”
Lance’s brow creased. “Why would we need—“
Shiro reached forward, very gentle as he took Lance’s face in his hand. “I won’t lose this war on the horizon.”
Looking up at Shiro Lance gulped. “You’re certain?” Lance asked.
Shiro gave a nod.
He leaned in and pressed a kiss to Lance’s forehead before he turned to the bath tub and flicked the handle on. Hot water rushed to fill the tub as Shiro turned back towards the bedroom door and slide it quietly closed.
It was surprising when the bath was full, Shiro started to strip, pulling Lance from the floor to stand with him at the large tubs edge. His surprisingly nimble fingers started to pluck at Lance’s own cloths as well.
“I can do it,” Lance insisted as he put his hands over Shiro’s. Gently but insistent, he pushed them away.
Shiro gave a nod and dropped his hands. His dark eyes watched Lance though, like he was making sure Lance really could.
Lance dropped his own gaze away and quickly removed his shirt, followed by the rest of his garments.
As Shiro slid into the water and beckoned Lance to come closer with those big, calloused hands, Lance wondered when they’d become so comfortable being completely nude with one another.
“Come on,” Shiro purred.
Tangling their fingers, Lance took a first step into the water.
“Ahh!” Lance gasped and his foot rose back out. “It’s hot.”
“I know.” Shiro said. “Trust me?” he tipped his head towards Lance, giving him another sincere smile. It felt like eons since Lance had seen a smile like that, a smile he adored. “You’ll enjoy it once you get used to it.”
Worrying at his lip, Lance nodded and dipped his foot in again. It was still hot but he placed his weight on the foot and stepped the rest of the way in.
“That’s it,” Shiro’s voice was rumbling in a contented way again. “It’s okay to take it slow,”
It was still really hot, but Lance wanted next to Shiro, so he bit his lip as he crouched in the tub, letting the water rush over him.
“Ah,” Shiro reached forward suddenly his hand going to Lance’s hip to steady him as he directed him, “Come on, don’t lean back that way, I want you in my arms.”
Lance was more then willing to let Shiro turn him and lay him back in the water across his chest.
The water was starting to feel nice as Lance shifted and curled on his side, between Shiro’s legs, resting his head on Shiro’s shoulder. His mate seemed perfectly content with that arrangement as Shiro’s hand came up, his wet hand brushing through Lance’s still dry hair. He pulled the hair back away from Lance’s forehead so he could lean down and peck at the crest of it. Lance sighed as he raised his hand, gliding his fingers over Shiro’s chest, tracing up the line of his sternum.
“You knew her before all this?” Lance already knew the answer to the question. But he couldn’t—he’d never though that Shiro had been a nun before this, but he just hadn’t considered.
“You were worried I’d have taken her up on her offer.” Shiro hummed under him.
Lance tucked his head in against Shiro’s neck. “She was very pretty.”
“She was a cheap imitation,” Shiro briskly assessed. “Especially after I’ve finally held a real pearl close to me.”
Looking up, Lance had to glance back away as he blushed. The rumble of Shiro’s chuckle was felt pleasantly as Lance smoothed both his hands over Shiro’s chest. Despite himself, Shiro’s small praise brought the tiniest of smiles to his lips.
“Have I assuaged your fears, my prince?” It was a cheerful quib, meant to be playful, Shiro nipping even at Lance’s cheek in another kiss.
Lance opened his eyes though, blinking before he looked up and shook his head. “No.”
Shiro cocked his head. “I could never leave you. The bond mark won’t allow it—not unless we rejected each other—“
“That’s not what I’m scared of.” Lance interjected. He frowned but his chest swelled and he tried to bring all his thoughts into an orderly manner he could start to express.
“That’s the second person from your past,” Lance shifted, crossing his arms over Shiro’s chest so he could still look at him as he spoke. “I feel like I don’t know you. Like you maybe don’t know me.”
Shiro’s expression twerked with irritation—but Lance observed it wasn’t like with ///her. No, this was softer, inquiring, less angry and more confused. “We have a life bond—we’re intrinsically linked, Lance.”
“Exactly!” Lance whined. He gave a sigh. “I’m supposed to spend the rest of my life with you and until Keith showed up I didn’t know you had a best friend with a bad hair cut!”
Shiro sucked in a breath. “You feel isolated?” He concluded.
Lance just nodded.
Shiro shifted in the tub a bit, peering down at Lance for a few brief moments before—“I have known Keith since I was twelve.” Shiro smiled. “We went to the same academy together.”
“So he was raised by wolves?” Lance gathered. “On Varr?”
Shiro chuckled. “Not as far as I know, but yes on Varr.” He cocked a sneaky smile. “You know he may not admit it but he’s quite fond of you, the two of you might actually get along it you tried—“
“Flag on the field!” Lance’s hand with a pointed finger shot out of the water. “‘No lying’ has been thoroughly established at this point!”
Shiro just continued to chuckled, his hand came back up to brush through Lance’s hair again. “He’s been my right hand man since we were sixteen.”
Lance smoothed his hand back down under the water, sliding it again across Shiro’s skin. He was right, the water felt so nice now that he’d gotten used to it.
“Is he an orphan?” Lance asked.
Shiro nodded. “Of sorts, yes.” The answer was cheerful enough but implied Shiro didn’t wish to delve farther.
“Wolves then.” Lance firmly assessed, nodding his head like it was settled. He couldn’t help the little smile that peaked.
Shiro was curling into him though, a more devious smile touching his lips. “Yes, vicious, terrifying wolves, it’s where he learned all those death glares.”
Lance stopped at that. It was said like it was supposed to be a joke— Like Shiro meant it to be, but there was a shot of truth in there somewhere, like the real joke was that it was true. That Lance couldn’t know, but the bare bones of it would flush out positive.
It brought with it a feeling of dajavou. Just moments ago, Lance had been having a panic attack on their floor and now— the worried expression creeped back. The affect the life bond had on him was—startlingly terrifying. For a few moments of bliss with his partner he’d thrown out every concern he had.
Lance resettled on Shiro’s chest, shifting away to the side more. He—the thought of Shiro kissing or nipping at him that moment—Lance shivered.
Of course his mate picked up on the change. “Lance,” he spoke soft, tentative this time.
“I screwed up with Pidge tonight.” Lance admitted. He had wanted it to sound as casual as before but—he could even sense the edge of caution now threading through his tone.
Shiro must have heard it too because he tipped his chin, regarding Lance in that cooler manner.
“So you’ve talked to Katie.”
“She told me on no uncertain terms that she preferred Pidge.” Lance said.
Shiro gave a slight nod. “Yeah, I’ve noticed, she’s pretty vehement about it.”
Lance’s eyes dropped to the water. He became conscious of his breath before he spoke again. “You still call her Katie?”
When Lance did chance to flick his gaze up, Shiro was watching him—no, still regarding him with dark eyes.
“You’ve known her before this,” It wasn’t a question.
Shiro regarded him for a few more seconds. It was like he was looking at a different Lance, like he’d pulled back some mask and was seeing something he hadn’t realized before.
The only thing that came to Lance’s mind was, good. If Shiro wanted him for the next eternity, they needed to be clear that Lance was on equal footing with him.
Giving a slow nod, Shiro acknowledged. “I’ve known Katie for quite a long time.”
Where did you meet her?
Lance wouldn’t speak the question, he just let it hang in the air between them clear but unaccusatory if he didn’t speak it. Instead he opted to look at his mate. Lance even started petting gently at Shiro’s collar bone with his hand, but his eyes stayed narrowed and focused on Shiro’s face.
Shiro’s gaze on him was unyielding. He never faltered before he let his mouth drop open just slightly. He sucked in a breath before licking his lips.
Then to Lance’s surprise, he spoke. “She’s the younger sister to a close friend of mine.”
“One I haven’t met?” Lance retorted.
“One that’s dead.”
Lance felt the breath in him slip form his lungs but he couldn’t manage to grasp another. his eyes widened—“Shiro, I—“
The water shifted and Shiro brought that powerful metal arm up and out, resting it along the side of the tub. “It’s alright.”
Lance glanced at the arm before looking back to Shiro’s face. “How—?”
Possibly in exchange, Shiro moved again, this time bringing both his hands to Lance’s hips. With a small yelp, Lance was suddenly picked up and moved, settling him in Shiro’s lap more, straddling his hips.
Lance’s hands scrambled to Shiro’s shoulders to steady himself. Shiro’s arms thread up and around his waist, pulling him in close till they were nearly nose to nose.
“We were in deep space.” Shiro’s voice was low, like a whisper or a secret he was giving to Lance. “Matt—Pidge’s brother and Dr. Holt— her father, were researchers. We were looking for anomalies in space time, it was their field primarily. They thought there was an easier way to make warps, more like—jumping from one place to another instead of having to create a rift, stabilize it and then warp, do you understand?”
Lance brow creased. “I think so.” He added. “You mean like jumping over a stream instead of building a bridge across it?”
Shiro gave a bit of a proud smile. “Exactly, my pearl.”
Lance felt himself preen at that.
“Well,” Shiro went on. “One of their experiments failed.”
Lance uneasily shifted in Shiro’s hold. “Is that how—“ He din’t finish. His eyes drifted to Shiro’s arm.
Shiro shook his head. “No.”
His metal hand made no sound as it moved. It had always seemed so unnerving to Lance that it never creaked like metal normally would, it never whirled or hissed. It was perfectly silent as it raised to Lance’s face and traced a finger down his cheek.
“The anomaly they found was apparently quite the break through—But it was in Galra space.” Shiro looked emotionless as he went on. “So Dr. Holt was issued a military escort.”
Lance tried to keep his breath stead, his expression cold. This was—he couldn’t betray himself, but this was no where near where he’d expected this conversation to turn.
“Me and fifteen other men were sent out with them.” Shiro said slowly.
Fifteen others… Lance had only ever heard of Shiro returning.
“The experiment?” Lance inquired.
Shiro gave a nod. “It was a natural pocket in space, Holt believed it was stable.” Shiro let out a long careful breath. “It wasn’t.”
Lance shook his head. “Shiro.”
“It collapsed on our ship. I thought it would have sliced the ship in two—but it didn’t. That'snot how science of jumps work I found out. It pulled and pushed and as if the ship was caught by two giant hands it was slowly pulled apart, popping metal and—stretching it like putty. I never thought a force of nature could be so cruel. ” Shiro just went on. “I scrambled to an air lock as fast as I could. Matt was right behind me.” he shook his head. “We secured ourselves into an air lock at the tail end of the ship.”
Lance’s fingers curled in at Shiro’s shoulders. Still, he wasn’t sure what to do.
“We had to watch them die.” Shiro blurted. “It didn’t last long, even a Varrian raised in thiner atmosphere couldn't last long in open space—but it was seeing their faces, just floating outside the massive air lock window. It was horrible to look at a fate one crack away from being my own.”
“And Matt?” Lance’s voice was small, but he felt like he needed to know. Or maybe Shiro needed to tell it. He wasn’t sure.
“in the first blast of the ship he’d been wounded. I thought it was just a leg wound.” Shiro looked suddenly quite remorseful. “I did everything I could think of— but we didn’t have any form of communication. From what I could tell an artery had been ruptured. He died with in the first day in that airlock. Altea may not have even thought there was a problem at that point.”
Feeling a surge of possession, Lance curled his hands around Shiro’s neck. “How long were you in there?”
Shiro relaxed a bit back into the water, letting his back fully sag back into the curve of the tub. “I don’t know.” He licked hid lips. “I know I got hungry, I thought I was going to starve, I considered breaking the glass, suffocating had to be better then looking at my dead friend, looking out the window and seeing my dead comrades, wishing I was dead too.”
Lance wanted to lean in and press a kiss to Shiro at that moment, but he stifled the want.
“I was lucky we were in Galra space.” Shiro admitted. “They must have picked up something—some tracking or even just a blip of activity. Altea may not have even cared, we’re lax in our patrol security—but Galra— a skiff turns on a radio and the Galra know about it and hunt them down for it.”
Lance twisted to look at the metal arm resting at the rim of the tub again. Tentative he reached out and touched it. His fingers fanned out as they lay over the metal, warm for once from the water and he moved his hand down over the swell of Shiro’s artificial bicep.
“Did it hurt?” Lance whispered.
Shiro gave a small smile. “Yes, and it still does sometimes.”
Looking up, Lance narrowed his eyes as he shook his head, so distraught over events he had no control over. “Why?”
Petting his one hand up Lance’s side he caressed the tender flesh over his ribs. “Most Galra prisoners are taken to the Arena, for sport.” He sounded more emotionless with tis turn of the story. “The didn’t expect me to win the first time, but I did. And I kept winning.” He wasn’t looking at Lance now. “Before I was strapped down, they told me I had earned a gift—“ He let out a slow breath. “I was their blood christened Champion.”
He stopped, looking up at Lance then.
An emotion Lance wasn’t familiar with swelled in him, making him want to puff out his chest.
Instead though he leaned over, one hand on the metal arm and the other gracing Shiro’s shoulder before Lance flicked his eyes closed and leaned in to press a soft, lingering kiss first to the end of Shiro’s flesh but then moved and pressed a second to the smooth metal.
Shiro didn’t say any thing, just wrapped his arm around Lance from behind and blanketed over him, moving in to nose in against his jaw. Lance turned his face. When their gazes met, Lance felt like he could feel the thrum of lightening again.
Lance tipped his head just slightly, letting his eyes hood before Shiro pressed in and smoothly sealed their lips.
The kiss heated for just a few moments, Lance pawing at his mate’s face before Shiro pulled away, laying back in the tub and coaxing Lance to follow him, sinking in the pleasantly warm water as his hands started to run over Lance again. It was—almost tender, like they were mapping his skin, appreciative.
Lance shook his head but still slid forward. Shiro raised an eyebrow at him but didn’t comment as Lance seated himself back in the close to overflowing bathtub. He pressed a knee to either of Shiro’s hips and sat back squarely in his lap.
Lance let his eyes hood again as he leaned in, hoping the slight smile on his face made the expression alluring.
Shiro didn’t close his eyes, only continued to watch.
Lance connected their lips slowly, his hands smoothing over Shiro’s chest first. He pulled back just a bit from the kiss, keeping them close as he ran his fingers up over the column of Shiro’s neck.
Surprisingly as Lance continued to slowly move his fingers up, Shiro cocked his head—before he accommodated and tipped his head back, resting his head on the back of the tub and tipping his chin up, though not enough that he still couldn’t maintain eye contact with Lance.
Lance was pretty sure his heart just stopped.
His Alpha was barring his neck to him. He trusted Lance.
Leaning forward, Lance had to pull in a breath carefully as his eyes flicked down to take in Shiro’s neck.
His Adam's apple, pultruded in such a delicious way and the thick base felt so smooth under Lance’s fingers. But none of that was his goal. Lance shuffled a bit closer as he leaned into press another small kiss to Shiro’s lips.
Shiro’s kissed back, his head even lifting just a bit as Lance broke. But he continued to just contentedly watch. One hand came back up to lazily rub up and down Lance’s tender side. The metal fingers skirting over Lance ribs even made him shiver.
But his eyes were still at Shiro’s chin and carefully, as not to startle his Alpha, Lance started to move his fingers up. The room was so quiet he could hear his breath and he glanced up just as his fingers reached Shiro’s jaw line—just to make sure he gazed at Shiro.
There was no reaction from Shiro. But as if to affirm, he tipped his head just the slightest bit back more.
Lance took that as an okay and pressed his fingers in as he slowly stroked, running his fingers from the the curve of Shiro’s jaw all the way up and to his chin.
The effect was seen almost instantly as Lances fingers caressed over Shiro’s primary glands. His eyes rolled back, hooded as he relaxed fully back into the back of the tub. Lance even heard Shiro exhale deeply, his metal hand at Lance’s side grasping over his hip bone.
Feeling a bit more confidence, Lance repeated the action this time leaning forward to peck a kiss to the jut of Shiro’s adam’s apple.
It was the third time that Shiro’s arm wound around Lance, puling him in to tuck against his chest.
“Mmmmmhhhhh,” Shiro gave an—almost purred growl Lance had never heard. But it was—he very much liked the sound.
“You’re poking a storm.” Shiro hummed as he brought his head up, nuzzling to the side of Lance’s face.
Blushing, Lance let his eyes dip closed and enjoy the lavish attention before he answered. “Am I gonna get struck by lightening?”
Shiro chuckled, so close Lance could feel every note of it.
“It feels like you’re a damn lightening rod with how much I’m attracted to you,” Shiro murmured.
“It must only be a matter of time.” Lance confirmed.
Shiro didn’t say anything in reply, only ran a finger along Lance's jaw, tipping his head towards him so he could kiss him again. This kiss finally deepened and Shiro breathed in Lance it felt like. He grasped at the back of his hair and the water sloshed in the tub as in a shifting movement he pressed them flush together.
Lance finally broke the kiss with a laugh. He nuzzled in to Shiro neck though, “I wanna suck on it,” He confessed.
…and abruptly found himself picked up and shot back at arms length.
“No,” Shiro half laughed but still had Lance firmly fixed in his gaze. “I wasn’t kidding. You'll drive me over the edge if you keep pushing.”
Gasping for air, Lance looked back at Shiro.
Right. His mate was more than willing— but Lance. Glancing down, Lance realized why Shiro had him now at arms length and he shot a new shade darker. Did he want that—in him?
Lance looked away and nodded to Shiro. “Alright. You’re right.”
Quickly Lance stood. embarrassment flooded him as he was faced with his own cowardice once again. It was Shiro. He wouldn’t hurt Lance. But—but a part of him was still. It was harder than he had imagined. He was—what if he wasn’t good at it? But was that even it? Lance felt like he knew the reason, it was just at the tip of his tongue.
Allura wouldn’t have been afraid of it.
Turning away from the tub, Lance stepped out, water splashing across their floor as he didn’t bother to kick off an excess and his wet feet plopped with every step as he quickly retrieved a towel.
Lance knew his sister had already—He blushed. Why was he comparing himself to her so much lately? But the thought still prevailed. If Allura were Shiro’s mate—she wouldn't be dragging him along like this.
Tucking the towel around his shoulders he pulled it firmly around him, burritoed himself in it.
“Hey,” Shiro was still nude as he approached Lance, his hand threading through Lance’s hair.
Lance looked up, mostly startled.
“I want you to be comfortable,” Shiro explained. “I feel like I’ve coaxed you into more than you’ve liked lately and I don’t want to keep doing it.”
Lance pursed his lips but nodded.
Shiro leaned in and cocking his head, practically bowing so he could reach Lance’s downcast face but he still cupped Lance’s opposite cheek before gently kissing his lips.
“Would you be okay with me scenting you before we go to bed?” Shiro asked, still so close his lips brushed against Lance’s as he spoke. “I won’t go farther then I did last time, I promise.”
Lances eyes went a bit wide as memories flooded through his minds eye. The thought—Shiro panting and groaning over Lance, his hand moving over himself a he held Lance close, his hot seed dripping over Lance’s skin—Lance bit his lip.
“I—“ Lance averted his eye as he blushed again. He nodded though. “I’d be up for that.”
Shiro gave another smile and his eyes closed that time as he connected their lips again, an arm snaking around Lance to swoop him up into his hold again.
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