Two Shadows Went, Chapter 15
Updated: Apr 13, 2019
He never saw his sister that day, or the next. Though if he was fair he felt like he lived in a daze. As morning came he dressed, and pulled the silver circlet on over his brow, the blue and teal crystals tinkling as they jostled just a bit. He fit the sleeves over his hands and slipped the rings over his fingers. He did all the things he was expected to do.
And then he went to his father.
Alfor slept most of the time. And Lance read at his bedside most of the time.
“My son,” Alfor expressed that very evening though.
Lance looked up from the bound book in his lap, across the room was the fleeting last rays of the sun, streaming through the windows to dance across the floor before nightfall, a couple precious hours away.
“I’m here.” Lance spoke soft.
As Alfor looked over at Lance, he seemed to regard him, "why—" he shook his head. "I never—you weren’t meant..."
Lance was scrambling forward. "Father." He shook his own head as he sat at the edge of his father's bed. "What is it?" He asked as he took his father's hands with in his own.
The look in has father’s eyes cleared then, and he blinked as he looked over Lance.
Till Lance realized—he wasn’t looking at Lance.
Those steely eyes were looking at Lance’s head.
Lance lifted his hand to the silver circlet at his brow.
"I’m sorry," Alfor pat his hand over Lance’s arm.
Lance shook his head. “It's alright." He said softly. Though his own brow remained creased with concern.
Alfor’s eyes on him were steel as he truly looked over Lance than, his mouth opened before he repeated. "I am very sorry."
The last rays of the sun spilled still over the room, and Lance shook his head. "Whatever for?"
Alfor shook his head. "I’ve failed you."
Lance sat a bit straighter at the edge of the bed though he felt—robotic, like his joints were rusted and stuck. "You didn’t." He assured his father.
Alfor’s expression didn’t change, though his gaze flecked back to the silver circlet.
"You’ve always been the most influential man in my life." Lance expressed.
Laying back among the richly adorned pillows, Alfor looked so frail that moment as he continued to regard his only son.
"You’ve done everything you ever could for me," Lance gave a smile. "And it's meant so much to me."
That seemed to be the comment that broke the older man as he frowned at lance, his expression pained.
"My dear boy—" he reached for Lance. He shook his head as he grasped at Lances arms and hands. "It wasn’t me—it was never me that gave everything for you."
Lance blinked and stopped in his tracks. The halls around him were dark. He had respectfully been at dinner at the appointed time, but the moment Shiro had been pulled away, Lance had stood from his chair, meal barely touched, and left the hall. He’d felt disgusting — like he’d just pulled himself away from a hall full of mangy dogs.
“Keith,” Lance tipped his head but didn’t turn his head. “You shouldn’t be here.” The hall before him was empty, the only light being Var hanging low over head, looming over the capital city and streaming through the Palace windows.
There was a chuckle as Lance barely picked up on Keith’s quiet steps closer. “I meant what I said to you.”
Lance looked very pointedly ahead, no longer containing the tolerance to humor the boy behind him.
“I won’t touch you.” Keith spoke quieter as he took another step closer.
He was fire, he’d always been a raging fire. Not even turning. Lance could feel the heat of it behind him.
“You shouldn’t come after me,” Lance spoke evenly.
There was a snort from behind him.
Lance just still looked straight ahead through the dark halls.
They both knew Keith was still Lance’s designated shadow. And with everything... Lance doubted that Shiro or Keith would only let Lance out of their sight if they couldn’t help it.
“Shiro knows I’m here.” Keith spoke closer to Lance.
Lance glanced to the side but didn’t move his head. He had yet to fathom this angle. His eyes narrow, there was something too strange about this.
“I never meant to say anything, to do anything,” Keith spoke again.
Was Keith intending to tear Lance down? Was this a ploy to bring Lance tumbling from where he stood so close to the throne?
“I had to tell Shiro,” Keith quickly said with a gulp. “I had to tell him, he’s practically my brother.”
Then why was Shiro still keeping Keith so close? Why was he still within the same galaxy of Lance?
“I don’t want you to be scared of me,” Keith cleared his throat. “There’s nothing I will ever do but protect you.”
Lance had yet to even see his face, but the statement struck him to life.
With a long stride, Lance felt like he was brought back from the dead as he took one step, then another, down the long hallway.
“I won’t be scared of you.” Lance simply said as he walked away, back through the halls to his own room.
As the door closed, Lance didn’t look away from where he stood —in Shiro’s office. He hadn’t riffled through the draws or scowered any of the loose pages. What would be the point? Instead he stood at the tall window behind Shiro’s desk. It overlooked the Palace’s inner courtyards
It was at the scrape of boots that Lance turned to greet his lover.
Shiro stood in the doorway, hands at his sides, the black and gold gleaming formal wear from the evening draped over his shoulders still.
He looked the part, Lance mused.
But Lance’s eyes narrowed. He’d never let Shiro take it from his family though.
“You look beautiful,” Shiro commented from where he stood still, steady, eyes trained on Lance.
“Thank you,” Lance picked the deep-bottomed glass he’d set at the window sill, taking a long sip. He looked away to the window as he set it back down. “You look very regal.”
There was no answer, just the sound of Shiro’s boots across the hardwood floor.
In the courtyard bellow, men were lighting the tall lanterns over hanging the courtyard. With all their advances it still amazed Lance that something so mundane was still given even a passing thought.
“Keith tells me you’ve—“
Lance looked up sharply. He wasn’t sure of his own expression, he felt like stone, but whatever it was, it stopped Shiro. He stood close to Lance now, at his fingertips, looking down at Lance.
“I’ve managed to slip through his grasp a time or two, yes.” Lance commented. “Antok’s not fast enough and Keith can’t think on his feet. One can predict where I’m going but can’t keep up and the other—quite the opposite.”
“I think I prefer Antok to Keith though, “ Lance mused. He looked away to the window. “Though Keith has always been there.”
There was a long pause, Lance looked back at the window as Shiro’s eyes still bore down on him.
“Do you have feelings for him?”
Now he asked? Lance nearly wanted to laugh. Now. How long had he known? And now, as Lance gave him a chilly reception, he asked.
“Would you kill him too if I told you, yes?” Lance picked up his glass of amber again.
“Keith is my brother.” Shiro’s deep voice tumbled through the room like thunder.
“He is also the new Red Paladin,” Lance shrugged. “Those don’t seem to have great luck with you.” He took another long drink.
“I would never hurt Keith.” Shiro’s eyes narrowed. “But I’d never let him have you.”
Lance looked away back down to the courtyard. He took another long drink as he considered his options. He could play the two of them against each other — but then again… Shiro’s voice held no ounce of mercy. He wouldn’t restrict Keith. He wouldn’t kill him. For a man with so few Allies that wouldn’t be smart.
No, he wouldn’t turn on Keith. Shiro had just said it himself.
He’d turn on Lance.
It would be far easier to lock Lance away in their rooms. If he liked he could probably section off the entire wing just for Lance. It was easier to keep his little blue bird caged than to temper a raging fire.
Lance set the glass back on the window sill, watching the amber liquid inside. “I don’t care for Keith.” He admitted.
It would be a gamble. But sacrificing his chance to drive a wedge, could put Lance…
“I’ve already told you, I love you,”
The hairs at Lance’s neck raised as Shiro’s arm reached around him, Shiro’s palm on the window seal, caging Lance in between him and the window. But Lance gave little sign as he watched the warm, gleaming lanterns below.
“Lance,” The thunder so close to him, made Lance wince.
But he still shot his gaze up. “I’m no longer Your Highness?”
Shiro was closer to him than Lance thought and as he let out an exhale, Lance felt it, just faintly as it tickled across his skin.
“You don’t trust me.” Lance said softly. He picked up the glass again, taking a sip. “You came to confirm?” This time his eyes didn’t leave Shiro though as he tipped the glass, looking up at him through long lashes before tipping the glass back and Lance swallowed slow.
Shiro’s gaze still ran over him. “I want to trust you.”
The words were murmured so quiet, so soft, Lance barely caught them.
But there it was—Lance’s sacrifice paid off.
He stepped in closer to Shiro and this time offered the bulbous glass out to him.
Looking at it for a moment, Shiro seemed to debate. But he took his hand away from the window seal, the threat dissipating as the took the drink.
As his hands were freed, Lance slunk forward and in against Shiro, wrapping his arms around Shiro’s middle as he pressed a cheek over the ornate black breastplate.
Shiro seemed to give in all at once as well, his free hand snaking around Lance’s shoulders as he took a deep swig from the glass.
“You’ve poisoned me,” His voice grated on a growl.
Lance didn’t respond.
It was true. And yet they’d drank from the same glass.
“You’ve done the very same,” Lance murmured.
Shiro drank deep again, before offering the glass back down to Lance. with delicate long fingers, Lance took it, sipping once more, before taking his own deep swallow. When he handed it back, Shiro without hesitation knocked the rest back before setting the empty glass back on the window seal.
Lance rest his head against Shiro’s chest, pressing himself flush, and letting his entire weight bare over Shiro.
The man didn’t even seem to notice.
“Will you keep Keith assigned to me?” Lance asked.
Shiro hummed. “He keeps track of you best.”
Lance’s fingers traced over the intricate patterns of Shiro’s armor. “I’m uncomfortable with what you’ve done with him.” Lance’s eyes skirted over the uniform. There had to be something more... Keith was a valuable asset. How was watching over Lance an effective use of his time?
“He won’t.” Shiro’s voice was an actual growl this time.
“Of course not,” Lance said. “But that doesn’t make me any more comfortable around him.”
Shiro was silent.
Keith wasn’t leaving.
“He won’t use you,” Shiro admitted. “I need someone like that.”
They stayed quiet for a long time then, Lances breath the only sound in his ears for a stretch.
It wasn’t till Shiro shifted that there was any other sound. And even then, it was the slide of his clothing, the thud of his boots as he pushed Lance up to steading on his own feet before gently he directed Lance out of the office. Shiro shut the double doors as they left the room.
Though when he turned back to Lance, he looked — more human.
Lance wasn’t sure—
“Are you okay?”
Lance’s brow creased. “Shiro.”
The man shifted where he stood over Lance, before looking over him again. “I was told you’d retired to our bedroom early— I came back here early as well to—to ask that.”
Lance breathed out slow, his face turning away.
Ever so gently he felt Shiro’s hands on his face, his fingers were warm as it skimmed the hair from his face and then— it was clothed in a glove, but then the coolness contrasting of Shiro’s prosthetic as it ever so gently pressed a finger under Lance’s chin.
“A lot has happened.”
Lance nodded, though still not looking up.
“Lance,” The small— the thread of a plea in Shiro’s voice, even as he stepped closer was agonizing.
Lance swallowed thickly as he let Shiro shuffle closer yet again. “You’re not making any of this easier on me.”
Shiro’s only answer after a long moment was still slow coming, his voice deep as he seemed to ponder each word. “I care — very deeply for you.”
“Then why do you cut me like this?” Lance could feel himself cracking as his head snapped to Shiro, an unattractive frown marring his face. Lances eyes narrowed.
Shiro’s hands this time cupped Lance’s face, holding his gaze up as he stepped closer. “There’s nothing I could’ve done to make any of this different. ”
Lances head was already shaking. “Shiro don’t—“
“I’m keeping my promises to you.”
Lance’s mouth hung open, as his eyes searched across his mate’s face. How could he—? It was so clear. The deceit was so clear.
“I meant it,” Lance whispered them. His brow creased as he tried to make it clear — as he fought to keep himself in control.
“I do too.” Shiro said softly.
When Shiro pulled him in for an embrace this time, Lance didn’t fight him, his hands cupping over Shiro’s shoulder as he was hauled in close.
“Please,” Shiro’s voice was at Lance’s ear. “tell me,” his breath was warm over Lance’s hair. “Are you okay?” Lance felt the smallest shake of his head. “You’ve no idea what it’d mean to me.”
“No,” Lance licked his lips, looking away before he continued in a low murmur. “I’m not.”
“Lance,” Shiro breathed.
Lance signed, and rest his forehead against Shiro’s shoulder. “I’m tired.” He admitted. That was the barest of all of it. There was so much—Lance wasn’t even sure where to start.
Shiro’s arm tightened around his middle. “I’ll take you straight to bed.”
Lance nodded. “And—“ He breathed in shakily. “I’m—I feel so alone.”
Shiro had Lance already hoisted up as an arm hooked under Lance’s thighs, sweeping him from his feet. “Then I won’t leave you till morning.”
Lance didn’t speak again. Just nodded as he closed his eyes, resting on Shiro’s shoulder.
Lance woke to a hand on his face, dusting just under his eye, Shiro’s thumb stroked over his cheek. Lance blinked awake, laying across their soft bed sheets.
A lazy smile spread as Lance shifted over. Shiro was on his elbows watching over Lance, but at the smile he pushed up and over him, shifting into a kiss over Lance’s prone lips. As he was kissed, Lance finally managed to pull himself up and placed a hand at Shiro’s hand.
It broke with Shiro still over him, leaning in over him as his dark, gray eyes looked over Lance’s face.
It was a rare morning that Shiro would linger in bed with Lance. Lance brushed his hand up and through the messy two toned hair of Shiro’s. It was soft, and the feel of it tickled between Lances fingers.
A smile was Lance’s gift for the action. Shiro’s grey eyes flicked up to meet Lance’s for just a brief moment.
With his own sweet smile and spurred on by the warm morning sun blanketing over Lances bare shoulders, Lance rolled on to his stomachs\ and pushed an elbow under him, tucking his chin on his hand as his other hand moved from Shiro’s hair to caress down his face. As Lance’s fingers skimmed at Shiro’s jawline they were snatched up, and with another wistful silver glance sent his way, Shiro pressed Lance’s fingers to his lips in a sweet linger into kiss.
Lance couldn’t help the peel of giggles bubbling through him as he melted down over the pillows and soft comforters.
“Good morning, love,” Shiro said to Lance, blinking long and slow up at him.
Lance managed to wiggle his fingers out from Shiro’s hold and trace them back up the solid sculpting of his face.
“Do you remember when you spent the entire first week married to me sleeping on the couch?”
Shiro rolled his head away to look up at the canopy over their heads. He struggled it seemed for a long moment till as he let out a breath. His face broke in a brilliant smile. “ Yeah, uhh...”
Lance was already laughing, his giggles building and his head dropped to rest at the crook of his elbow.
“I thought—“ it was clear the struggle Shiro was having not to laugh himself. “I mean I thought I was being chivalrous.”
Lance shook his head as he shuffled in closer. “You were being so dumb, so so dumb.”
“I wanted you to be comfortable,” Shiro said, his voice already breaking with his own laughter as he turned into Lance, moving closer.
“I’m very comfortable,” Lance purred and he slide closer, feeling Shiro’s heat next to him. “I’m very comfortable right next to you.”
The smile still had yet to leave Shiro’s face as he slid closer himself.
“The bed is nicer.” Shiro admitted.
“You were using a throw pillow,” Lance broke into more giggles.
“If I took one from the bed, you’d know.”
“It’s not like I didn’t!” Lance full on laughed then.
Lance giggled again as Shiro with a playful growl was snatching him up and pulled them in flush together. “You’re right, I was stupid. Why would I ever sleep on a frumpy couch when I’ve got such a cutie in bed here?”
“You’re banished back to the couch!” Lance let out, but he wasn’t fighting at all as he snuggled into Shiro’s warm embrace.
“Can’t go back now,” Shiro still laughed as he hoarded Lance to him.
Lance hummed and tucked himself under Shiro’s chin. It was so very true, no matter what — Lance couldn’t go back now.
And as the morning light streamed through their windows, warming over them like the best of all blankets, Lance wanted to go back.
"I need to get up," Shiro’s lips moved against Lance’s bare shoulder.
Lance’s response was to snake a hand up and around Shiro’s neck holding him there.
"I have meetings," Shiro was chuckling though as his hands smoothed over the small of Lance’s back.
Lance shifted up, smiling devilishly as he pressed just the lightest kiss over Shiro’s primary glands.
The groan that greeted him, was much more satisfying than he expected and Lance used his hooked arm as leverage to kiss again and again over the glands.
“Lance," The groan this time was accompanied by greedy hands at Lance’s hips, pulling him in closer to Shiro. "We cant this morning."
Lance hummed but didn’t stop, instead pressing his mouth over the glands in a way that drove Shiro crazy before pushing his tongue up over the gland.
There was actually a low deep growl this time. The sound resonated through Lance.
Then the rooms AI system lit up, blue thin strip lining the room as it winked in slow twice. It was a gentle reminder, someone was trying to get in contact with them.
Lance gave a sigh and pressed one last kiss to his Black Paladin.
Shiro was huffing out a sigh as well, and almost apologetically he was placing Lance back amongst the sheets, resting him back in the bed. At the same time, Shiro sat up, his gaze shifting to out around the room.
Lance wanted to say, let them deal with their own problems, but he knew better. His hands fell away from his mate in reverend caresses though.
As Shiro pulled from the bed and Lance let himself just rest back into the sheets —he breathed out slow.
Going back would have been blissful, but not everything could stay that way forever.
“He promises he’ll keep me safe.” Lance said quietly. “Every night,” Lance’s voice was clipped.
In the enclave, back behind the drapery hiding the servants halls, the siblings watched through the small slits in the fabric at the dinner in the great hall.
Allura’s eyes narrowed. “He would rule through you.”
Lance shook his head. “What would be the point?” Lance looked back out over those assembled for dinner. “He has what’s left of the back bone of the council on his side. It wouldn’t matter who sat on the throne.”
“He could be lying to you.” Allura looked over at him.
Lance looked back at her, “He already has.”
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