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Angel With A Shotgun

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Lance’s sandeled toes dangled through open air, and he giggled as wisps of cloud tickled the tips of his feet.

“Careful, brother!” Veronica chided as he lost focus and nearly crashed into a passing bird. Her long powerful wingspan propelled her gracefully through the air, and Lance had to work his small wings extra hard to keep up.

“Are we nearly there yet?” Lance whined, his back aching from so much exertion.

“Patience is a virtue, Lance. Good will come in time.”

Lance scoffed, but knew better than to argue with his sister. She was older and wiser, and even though he didn’t understand her odd sayings now, she said he would grow to appreciate them.

“There!” Veronica pointed a slender finger to the land below there was a large, oddly shaped building with an open dome for a roof. She grabbed at a passing cloud and it solidified, creating the perfect perch for the two angels to rest on, “That’s where the human’s observe the heavens.”

Lance sat on the cloud, then stared at the building below, it didn’t look like anything special to him , “Can’t the humans just go see the heavens for themselves?”

Veronica laughed, “Not yet, little brother. Maybe someday, but not yet. For now they are bound to the planet they are born on, watching the stars from afar.”

That seemed sad to Lance. It was strange to think that there were beings that couldn’t just reach up and touch the sky for themselves, “Well, at least they can see their own star,” he huffed.

Veronica shook her head and looked up to the sun, golden halos glowing in her amber eyes to match the one above her head, “No, Lance. The sun is much too bright for the human’s eyes.”

“What?” Lance glanced up to the sun himself and stared at the burning ball of fiery gas, his jaw slack with disbelief, “But it’s so dim!” He had seen dozens of stars twice as bright as this one.

“To us, maybe, but we live in a world of light. The humans have to blindly stumble through the darkness of their own world.”

“Why is it so dark?”

“Because the humans do not have the same grace we do.”

Lance frowned. Did humans really not have grace? He thought all creatures had grace. “So if I lose my grace, I’ll be like them?”

Veronica’s eyes became stormy, her wings rustling dangerously, and Lance swallowed nervously. Maybe he’d finally asked one question too many.

“Lance, listen to me. You have much further to fall than any human. A fallen angel is cast to the darkest world imaginable, with no hope of escape.”

Lance’s eyes widened with fear. All the other angels had told him there was always hope. Was there really a situation bad enough that there wasn’t any?

Veronica’s expression softened as she saw the fear in the smaller angel’s eyes, “Don’t worry, Lance. You are a good angel, too smart to fall.” She ruffled his hair and hugged him tightly, “Come now, little one. Let’s go home.”


 

Veronica had been wrong about a lot of things, first and foremost being that Lance was smart. Lance wasn’t smart, he was an absolute idiot. After all, who else would volunteer to go on a mission to a planet of lava and sulfur? Not anyone with good sense, surely.

He should have just stayed behind in the castle and let Keith and Shiro handle it, but he’d been cooped up for weeks , and it was getting boring. Allura was planning missions and making connections with the planets of the coalition. Coran had castle maintenance to attend to when he wasn’t helping Allura. Hunk and Pidge were always working on complicated technical mumbo jumbo that flew over Lance’s head, and Keith and Shiro were always either training or going on the missions that only they seemed to go on anymore.

There was just no place for Lance to fit in among them. He felt useless, and it royally sucked .

Even in space, you’re the odd one out, the outcast. You belong back in hell.

Lance shook his head, trying to ward off the dark thoughts, “Not today, Satan,” he murmured, as he’d heard so many humans do. It seemed to apply to him so much more.

Keith turned to give him a confused glare, then turned back to focus on his flying.

When Shiro mentioned that they might need some long-ranged back up, Lance had jumped at the opportunity. Anything to get out of the castle and prove himself to the team. Allura had agreed, but decided that they should only take the Red Lion. It would be best suited to the planet’s fiery surface.

“Remember, paladins,” Coran’s voice echoed through Red’s cockpit, “We need these stones to re-calibrate the healing pods. Make sure you get at least ten of them!”

“Roger that!” Lance saluted, remembering the holographic image Coran had showed them of the volcanic stones back at the castle.

“But be careful of the lava pools! They’re hotter than a spelbum in a warzap, and will melt your bones before you can say-”

“We get it, Coran!” Keith interrupted irritably, “Get the rocks, stay away from the lava.”

“Woah, what’s up with you today?” Lance asked. Keith was an impatient guy, sure, but he wasn’t usually so snappy.

Keith scowled, “I just have a bad feeling about this mission.”

Shiro frowned. He and Keith’s eyes met like they did when they were having a silent conversation. A pang of jealousy tore through Lance’s chest. What would he give to have someone trust him like that, to listen to his concerns without a second thought.

“Alright,” Shiro finally said, “Let’s get in and out fast. Be careful and stay close to each other. This should be a simple mission, but we don’t know what kind of life might live here. Stay on your guard.”

A rush of hot air hit them as Red’s mouth opened. Lance could feel it’s heat even with the temperature stabilizers in his suit. The ground below was a coppery red, just a few shades lighter than blood, and stepping on it revealed it to be some coarse, sand-like material.

Shiro set the pace, and Lance and Keith followed closely behind, both using their scanners to try and locate the mineral. Pidge had used a sample Coran had in the castle to program the scanners to set off an alarm when they came close. Lance didn’t know what kind of alarm she had set, but knowing Pidge, it would probably be loud and annoying.

They passed a massive pool of lava, it’s shiny, molten surface slowly oozing and bubbling across the ashy ground. Small bursts of flame rose around its edges. The fire and overwhelming stench of rotten eggs was starting to feel really familiar to Lance, and it wasn’t a good familiar.

He shuddered and shifted uneasily. He felt like something was watching them, but looking around, it seemed they were alone.

“Lance? You okay, buddy?”

Lance jumped at Shiro’s sudden question, and immediately regretted it as Shiro and Keith stared, “Sorry, what?”

The two glanced at each other, having yet another silent conversation before Keith spoke, “You’ve been really quiet. For you, I mean.”

Lance shook his head and pasted on a smile, “Sorry, sorry, I’m good. This place is just a little creepy. It’s kinda like hell.”

Keith smirked, “You say that like you’ve been.”

Oh, but he had.

Shiro looked around uneasily, tapping his metal fingers restlessly against his armored leg, “Maybe we should head back… if both of you feel off about this.”

“No, no, no! It’s okay, we can keep going!” There was no way Lance was going to let them abandon the mission because of him. He had to prove that he could handle himself. He couldn’t stand being the useless one anymore.

Shiro raised an eyebrow, looking confused, if not a little concerned, “All right, if you say so. Keith, why don’t you scan for traces of the mineral. See if you can find some nearby.”

But Keith was no longer next to them. He had frozen a few feet back, and was still standing there, a blank expression on his face.

“Keith? What’s wrong?” No response, “Keith!”

Shiro approached him slowly, and waved a hand in front of his face. He didn’t blink.

“What’s wrong with him?”

“I don’t know,” Shiro’s eyes were wide with worry, “He’s just stopped.”

Lance swallowed roughly. The way Keith’s eyes were glazed over- no. It couldn’t be. Not all the way out in space.

“Hey, Keith buddy, you still in there?” Lance grabbed Keith’s shoulders, shaking him roughly. Keith just swayed on his feet, still looking dead to the world.

“That’s it, mission be damned, we’re getting out of here.” Shiro moved to grab Keith’s unresponsive form, probably meaning to drape his small frame over his shoulder.

“Wait! Let me try something”

Shiro froze as Lance called out, then backed away as if to say ‘be my guest’.

Lance chewed his lip nervously. He hadn’t had to deal with this problem since they left earth, and if his suspicious were correct, they were in some seriously deep shit. He tightly gripped Keith’s wrist in his own hand, his voice wavering as the single word left his lips.

“Christo.”

Keith’s body flinched violently, and his eyes flashed to a deep, pupil-less black.

“Well, fuck .”

Chapter Text

The woman’s prayers were panicked and desperate, her words fumbling across her cracked lips and into her clasped hands. Splintered wood bit into her knees and her long greying hair hung limp and messy in her sunken eyes.

Save us. Save us. Save us, please.

Lance didn’t think he’d ever heard someone pray so intently, and he’d heard a lot of prayers in his lifetime. Marco told him he’d get used to these sorts of prayers, but even he seemed unsettled by the woman’s pleas.

“Maybe you should stay back for this one, Lance.” Marco suggested with a frown, his wings rustling irritably, “You’re still a minor angel, and I have a bad feeling about this job.”

Lance bristled with annoyance. He wasn’t a fledgling anymore, he could handle himself out in the world! Besides, he really wanted to help people. The woman sounded like she was in pain, and he wanted to relieve it however he could.

He told Marco as much, but the older angel just laughed.

“Oh Lance, you are so naive. You can’t end all the suffering in the world.”

“But I’m an angel! That’s what we’re for , right?”

Marco shook his head, but finally gave in, “Alright, I’ll bring you along, but stay close. I wasn’t kidding when I said something’s off about this.”

The shack was run down and in the middle of nowhere. Shutters swung loosley from the cracked windows, and it reminded Lance very much of the house in a human horror movie Louis had roped him into watching once. They didn’t bother trying the rusted screen door, because what kind of angel uses a door? Instead Marco melted through the wall, and Lance realized that if this was a horror movie, they would be the ghosts.

In light of entering a creepy abandoned shack, it sorta made him feel better.

The woman was crouched in a corner, rocking back and forth and running her hands through her tangled hair. Marco approached her cautiously, resting a comforting hand on her shoulder. She looked up with a start, but was blind to the angel standing next to her.

A sudden sharp pair of voices from another room made Lance jump in surprise.

“I say we just off the hag and get back to the gate!”

“We can’t ! Part of the deal was leaving her alone!”

Marco frowned darkly in the direction of the voices before turning back to face his younger brother, “Say Lance, I think it’s about time you learned how to deal with a demon.”


 

This was bad, this was very very bad. They needed to get out of there, and fast.

“What the-” Shiro wasn’t able to finish as Keith’s fingers clamped around Lance’s arms, and with a sudden, inhuman strength, tossed him across the planet’s surface to land back near the Red Lion.

Lance groaned, as his head slammed into the rocky ground. Pain shot through his mouth as he bit through his tongue, and he spat out blood. Sharp stones stabbed through the lower section of his back that his armor didn’t cover.

“Lance!” Shiro’s voice cut through Lance’s breathless haze, and he managed to hold his hand in the air, giving the black paladin a trembling thumbs up.

“I’m good!” But he wouldn’t be if they didn’t get off this stupid planet soon.

“Keith, what the hell?”

“What the hell is right!” Keith laughed coldly.

Lance dragged his feet beneath him, trying to climb upright again, but Keith snapped his fingers and he was slammed back into the ground by an invisible force. Shiro reached a hand towards Keith’s body, but flinched to a stop as Lance screamed, “Shiro, stay away from him!”

Shiro frowned, his hand falling back to his side, but didn’t back any further away from the red paladin, “Keith?”

“That’s not Keith!” Lance shouted.

A haughty smirk crossed Not-Keith’s face, “Yes, Fallen. Tell him all about what’s happened to Keith .” He pranced to where Lance was pinned and crouched near his head. Two fingers slipped under Lance’s head and tilted it up, forcing his eyes to meet the demon’s ugly black ones, “Thought you would be smarter than to bring your little pets to a planet with a gate. You really haven’t changed.”

Lance spit in his face.

Not-Keith blinked, then calmly wiped the bloody phlegm off his cheek, “Now, now, that isn’t very nice.” He sneered tauntingly, and the expression looked so unnatural on Keith’s face it made Lance feel sick.

“Lance, what’s going on?” Shiro’s Galra arm was raised, but not activated. He seemed unsure whether he should be attacking anyone or not.

“Stay back, Shiro!” Lance yelled, fighting to keep his voice even, “Don’t try anything or you’ll hurt Keith. Try and get a message through to Allura or Coran!”

Not-Keith laughed coldly, and Lance could feel his fingernails digging into his face, “Calling for help? It must be so humiliating to have less power than a demon.”

“Demon?” Shiro asked incredulously

Not-Keith turned towards Shiro with a frown, his upper lip twitching in disgust, “Be quiet, human. This is between me and the Fallen!” He snapped and there was a flash of burning red light. Shiro was thrown to the ground and pinned with the same force that kept Lance from moving.

“Tolvalan, stop it !” Lance hissed through gritted teeth, though he regretted it instantly as the demon’s eyes lit up at the sound of the name.

“Ah, so you do remember me! You hear that, human? The Fallen remembers me! And he wants me to stop! How heartwarming…” Keith’s face twisted into a grotesque parody of itself, Tolvalan smiling maniacally through the Red Paladin’s lips, “If only I had a heart to warm. I guess yours will have to do!”

Tolvalan’s grip on Lance’s face became painfully tight as he unsheathed Keith’s knife and held it against Lance’s armored chest. He jabbed it against the white, Altean metal, making a scratch across the shiny surface.

“Keith! Don’t!” Shiro screamed, fighting to stand against the demon magic.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart!” Tolvalan laughed, glancing towards Shiro, “Yours is coming out next!”

Not on Lance’s watch. Taking advantage of Tolvalan’s minute distraction, Lance sank his teeth into the calloused flesh of Keith’s palm.

Tolvalan yelped in pain and surprise, his hand flying away from Lance’s face, “You little BRAT ! I WANT YOU DEAD!” He gripped Keith’s knife dangerously, and before Lance could say anything, he plunged it into the soft, black material of Lance’s flight suit.

Lance’s stomach exploded in burning pain. The planet around him flashed in and out of focus and terrible screaming filled his ears. It wasn’t until the initial pain faded and the world came back into focus that he realized he was the one screaming.

“Lance! Lance!” Shiro shouted, but his voice was drowned out by a sudden, ear shattering roar. Tolvalan yelled in surprise and jumped back as the Red Lion started to move, the sound startling him enough to drop the spell on Lance and Shiro.

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica. ” Lance didn’t waste any time choking out the exorcism, the Latin words coming to mind as easily as they had when he’d first memorized them.

Tolvalan screamed, black irises rolling back into their skull and thick, charcoal colored smoke pouring from Keith’s mouth. Shiro lunged forward, instincts thankfully still intact, and caught Keith as his body fell limp and collapsed.

Lance grabbed at his stomach, another spasm of pain searing through him as he tried to sit up, “Shiro,” he panted, swaying dizzily, “Need to get out of here! It won’t last long!”

Keith stirred clumsily in Shiro’s arms, and the man froze for a moment. Keith’s eyelids fluttered open, to reveal his normal, violet irises.

Lance sighed in relief. Then promptly passed out.

Chapter Text

Demons weren’t all that bad.

Of course, Lance would never say that aloud (he’d probably get shanked or something), but it didn’t stop him from thinking it. And he thought it a lot. Yeah, demons were self-serving, animalistic cowards, but they were also somewhat reasonable. Lance could work with reasonable.

Being promoted to the Demonic Task Force had always been a dream of Lance’s. Both Marco and Veronica were on it, and had always told thrilling stories of epic battles between angels and demons where the angels always seemed to win. From the moment Marco first taught him to exorcise, Lance knew he would be on the team. It was only a matter of time.

He’d worked his ass off, rising up the chain of angels, but he finally had his shot, and there was no way he was throwing it away. So what if he enlisted the help of a few D-class demons along the way?

It was easy enough to find informants. There were plenty of demons who stood to gain from the fall of their more powerful brothers. Some needed a little more persuasion than others, but it still made his job a hell of a lot easier (pardon the pun). No need for months of research and fieldwork when he could simply refer to his network of demon informants and get the names and faces he needed right off the bat.

Sure, he was breaking protocol. Everyone knew angels weren’t allowed to interact with demons besides exorcising the few that wedged their way into The Plan. It was just common law. Lance knew he could be in big trouble if anyone were to find out, but it was for the greater good! What was so wrong with using demons to hunt down more dangerous demons?

Nothing, in Lance’s opinion. He was saving Heaven time and power. As long as no one found out, he would be fine… right?

Again, Lance could be really, really stupid sometimes.


 

Rain poured in buckets from the sky, splattering against abandoned fast food wrappers and echoing in a deep plunking noise against the overturned dumpster. It’s patter almost drowned out the heavy crack of bone crunching against brick, but Lance heard it clear as day.

Blood poured from a gash torn across the demon’s forehead, streaming down his face and staining his T-shirt a dark brown. He raised his gaze dizzily to meet Lance’s, and spit even more blood into the alley way, “You angels are all the same,” he spluttered, trying to seem unphased by his collision with the brick wall, “think you can walk all over us just because you’re so special and holy.”

Lance smirked. No amount of smack talk was going to get him out of this. The demon was cornered and he knew it. “C’mon, I just need one name, Balrathan. Just tell me what your good ol’ boss’s name is.”

Balrathan struggled to his feet, slipping a little against the slick asphalt, “Yeah, right. Like I even know what you’re talking about.”

“There’s no point denying it, I already know you know. It was a little difficult tracking you down, I’ll give you that, but it was inevitable that I would find you.”

A scowl of disgust crossed Balrathan’s face, “Since when did angels hunt demons down for information, anyways? Are you some kind of reject, trying to impress your superiors or something?”

He was grasping at straws, trying to buy for time, but Lance wasn’t falling for it. They had been hunting this demon for years, and Lance was going to be the one to finally catch and send him back to hell. All he needed was for Balrathan to give him his name.

Lance thrust a hand into Balrathan’s shoulder, pinning him against the wall. The demon squirmed, trying to free himself, but Lance’s grip was strong. Black smoke began to stream from his mouth, Balrathan was finally desperate enough to leave his host behind if it meant escape, but Lance clamped a hand over his lips. His halo glowed, flashing against the alley way’s dark, grimy walls as he trapped the demon inside it’s host.

“Woah, woah, woah, we’re not finished yet!”

Balrathan jerked his head free from Lance’s hold and shouted, “You’ll just exorcise me anyways! What do I have to gain from giving you anything?”

Lance grit his teeth in frustration. Just how stubborn could one demon be? “Just tell me the name, and I won’t send you back to hell!”

Balrathan suddenly stopped struggling. He fell slack in Lance’s arm, an odd, dreamy expression painting it’s way across his face.

“Deal.”

Before Lance could process what was happening, Balrathan’s lips were on his, the demon’s eye teeth digging into the fleshy underside of Lance’s bottom lip, hard enough to draw blood. Lance quickly gathered his senses and pushed Balrathan away, ending the kiss as abruptly as it had started.

Balrathan was still smiling, “His name’s Tolvalan. Good luck,” and in a cloud of deep smoke, he disappeared, empty host slumping to the wet ground.

Lance raised a trembling hand to his face, ghosting his fingers of his lips, the lips a demon had just kissed.

Had he… had he just made a deal?

He lowered his shaking hand to rest on the host’s forehead and healed the bloody gash. Lance glanced around the bloody alleyway nervously. He would have to clean it all up somehow.

Rule number one in demon hunting was never ever make a deal with a demon. It would come back to bite you in the ass EVERY time.

He had fucked up, and bad .


 

Tolvalan writhed and screamed as if he were being tortured, but the devil’s trap held firm, “Let me go, let me go, let me go!” He shrieked like a toddler throwing a tantrum.

Marco’s gaze didn’t leave the demon, but he ruffled his hand through Lance’s hair, a proud glint in his eyes, “Good job, little brother. Your streak just seems to be getting longer and longer. You might even top me some day,” he chuckled.

Lance smiled at the praise, but inside he just felt sick. Somehow this was completely different from all the exorcisms he’d ever done in the past. He’d paid for this one with something a lot more expensive than it was probably worth.

“I’LL KILL YOU ALL! I’LL HUNT DOWN EVERY ONE OF YOU ANGEL BASTARDS AND KILL YOU!”

“Ah, can it already! No one wants to hear it!” Marco yelled lazily.

Lance was really starting to wish he’d listened to Louis. The other boy had always insisted that there was more to being an angel than just fighting demons. He’d become an expert in human relations, and studied them non-stop for years.

“Don’t listen to Marco and Veronica,” He’d said what seemed like a century ago, “they’re obsessed. Nothing good will come from that. Come learn about humans with me instead!”

Now Lance wished he had. Memories of watching humans from the clouds with Veronica, and giving them miracles with Marco. It would have been better than this.

Marco finally turned away from Tolvalan, a look of excitement on his face, “You want to do the honors, Lance?”

Lance frowned, but stepped forward, the exorcism already on his lips. Let’s just get this over with , he thought desperately.

Tolvalan glared at him, “I’ll find you! Wherever you are, I’ll hunt you down!”

Balrathan was just one meaningless demon. One demon that Lance couldn’t exorcise. It would be alright. Some other angel could get him, right?

Tolvalan returned to hell that night, and with him came whispers. Whispers of an angel named Lance.


 

The warehouse wasn’t empty. But of course Lance figured that out much too late.

Veronica had taken him there on a hunch, pointing out how much demonic activity had been happening around there lately, “We’re just going to check it out, make sure nothing too crazy is going on, then go back home. You haven’t been acting like yourself lately. Maybe getting out will help you cheer up.”

Lance had just nodded and agreed to come along. He knew his siblings were worried about him, but he just didn’t have the energy to fake it anymore after Tolvalan. He spent all his waking moments worrying about Balrathan.

“There’s something about this place,” Veronica murmured with a frown, “I can’t sense anyone here, but… I don’t know. It just feels wrong. Stay on your toes, Lance.”

Lance nodded, clutching his knife tightly as they peered around dozens of abandoned cargo crates. He couldn’t sense anything either, but Veronica’s hunches were usually right. He knew better than to question his older sister’s judgement.

“What on earth is that ?”

It was a book, lying totally inconspicuously on top of one of the crates, and like an idiot, Lance walked right up to it. Completely forgetting the dangers of cursed items, he picked it up, opening the stiff black cover and flipping through the pages.

“It’s blank. I don’t know what-” He was cut off by a loud crash. Something heavy fell from the ceiling, shattering into several pieces on the floor.

Veronica jumped in shock, then stiffened, “Lance, it’s a trap!” She shoved at him with her whole body weight, pushing him away from the crate and the book. He landed roughly on the cement floor a few feet away just as blazing hot flames rose in a circle around Veronica.

“Very smart, I didn’t think clueless over here would figure it out,” a painfully familiar voice rang out through the warehouse.

“Veronica!” Lance pushed his leg beneath him and stumbled to his feet.

“Lance, no! Stay back! It’s holy fire!”

“Right again.” A man walked out from behind the pile of crates. A man with pupil less black eyes, “Wow, Lance. You sure do have a smart sister.”

“Balrathan,” Lance spat, his gaze split between the demon and his sister, “let her go.”

“Hmmm, I think not.”

There was a flash of light as flames filled the circle, and Veronica’s tortured screams filled the warehouse.

“Stop it!” Lance shouted in horror.

“What? Isn’t this how angels play?” Balrathan mocked with a falsely innocent voice, “This is my turn, and I won’t stop until I get what I want.”

“Lance!” Veronica shrieked, her voice shaking with pain, “Exorcise him!”

Lance grimaced, not meeting her eyes. He couldn’t exorcise him.

“I’ll give you anything you want, just stop it!” He screamed in desperation.

“I want the gate to heaven!”

He was insane. This demon was totally and completely insane .

“I know there is one! Just tell me where it is and I’ll let big sis go!”

Lance backed away in terror. What was he talking about? He knew where the gate to hell was, but he didn’t know there was a gate to heaven. Angels just passed through wherever they wanted.

“No, way!”

“Then Veronica gets it!”

Veronica’s screams grew in intensity, and Lance knew he would have to think of something fast. He started chanting in Latin. He’d never tried this before, but hoped it would work. Just changing a few words in the exorcism… it should work…

“What are you doing?” Balrathan growled, hearing Lance’s chanting, “You can’t send me to Hell! We made a deal!”

“Oh, I’m not sending you to Hell.”

Balrathan screams suddenly fell in harmony with Veronica’s, thick smoke pouring from his lips, then disappearing in a flash of light.

The flames fell, and Veronica collapsed to the ground, panting heavily.

“Lance… what did you just do?”

Chapter Text

The courtroom was absolutely frigid. Most of Heaven was either a vaguely warm or pleasantly cool, but under the stares of dozens of other angels, Lance felt like he’d been shoved into an industrial sized freezer and locked inside.

He glanced across the silent jury stands, recognising most the angels that sat there. These were his friends, his siblings , people he’d grown up and fought side by side with. And now they were going to sentence him to some unknown and terrifying punishment.

It didn’t help that they sat so much higher than him. In trials, the accused always sat in a stone chair in the bottom of the room, with the jury and judge seated along the walls. Lance always thought it resembles a pit, a daunting precursor to whatever sentence the accused faced.

Maybe they would smite him or something. Lance had never seen anyone be smitten, but it had always sounded more like being spanked than any real punishment. He highly doubted he would get away with just a spanking, though. Holy shit, were they going to stone him? Like they did in the bible? Did angels even do that anymore? Lance didn’t know.

A loud creaking noise broke the silence of the courtroom as the heavy golden doors in the back opened and an important looking angel strode in, followed by Veronica and Louis. Veronica was wrapped in a blanket, looking odd with short singed hair. She looked better than before, but was still covered in painful looking burns.

Veronica pointedly avoided meeting Lance’s gaze, sitting stiffly on one of the benches, and Lance’s stomach dropped through the floor. Was she really that mad at him? He’d been trying to save her life. And where was Marco? Why wasn’t he here? Louis sent him an encouraging smile, but the doubt in his eyes did little to quell Lance’s anxiety.

At least one person in his family didn’t hate him.

The important looking angel settled behind the judge’s stand, and called for order, despite the fact that no one was talking.

“This trial will now begin. The accused, Lance of the Demon Task Force. Judge and Prosecution, Israfel of the Higher Order.”

Judge and Prosecution? Was that even allowed?

“The counts against the accused, fraternization with demons, the making of a deal with a demon, and, most grievously, sending said demon through the gates of Heaven. Does the accused deny any of these claims?”

Lance shrunk under Israfel’s sharp gaze. His glowing blue eyes seemed to be boring through him, and Lance had the uncomfortable feeling that the older angel could read his thoughts.

“No, but I-”

“You did indeed break the very first of our sacred laws regarding interaction with demons?” Israfel interrupted.

“Yes, but-”

“And let the foulest of beings to invade the sanctity of our kingdom?”

“I mean yeah, but I was just trying to-”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, clearly the accused has committed the crimes he is accused of. We have a multitude of witnesses to this fact, including the angel who watched him help the demon infiltrate our home,” Israfel gestured towards Veronica, whose gaze dropped to her lap as dozens of eyes snapped to her, “and the angel who exorcised the demon, who is not in attendance.”

Whispers filled the courtroom, eyes sliding from Veronica to the empty seat next to her. Lance could see Louis grit his teeth and clench his fist in anger, even from the bottom of the courtroom.

Wait- Marco had been the one to exorcise Balrathan?

“I move to find the accused guilty, and sentence him to banishment. His grace will be taken from him, and he will be sent to Hell to reside for the rest of eternity.”

What?! Hell ?! He… he was going to be a fallen?

“Those in favor,”

Hands shot through the air, and Lance didn’t have to count to know more than half the jury had voted. Veronica kept her eyes firmly in her lap, but raised a shaky hand, and Lance’s heart dropped into his stomach.

“No! NO! PLEASE!” He screamed, but no one seemed to be listening. The two angels who had escorted him into the courtroom were now approaching him, hands gripping tightly around his arms. Lance tried to shake them off, but they were stronger than him. “PLEASE! I WAS ONLY TRYING TO HELP!”

He was sobbing now, desperate tears streaming down his cheeks, hoping, praying that someone- anyone would speak up.

“Wait a minute!” It was Louis. Precious kind, Louis, who just wanted to see the good in everyone, “How is this fair? He wasn’t even given a defense!”

“He doesn’t need one.” Israfel scowled.

“That’s illegal!” Louis shouted, but no one seemed to be listening. Lance was still being dragged from the courtroom, “You think because you’re above us you’re also above the law?”

“That is ENOUGH!”

Louis opened his mouth to argue, but Lance was thrown from the room and the large, golden doors swung shut, blocking any noise from the courtroom, and separating him from his final, only hope.


Dreams were really fucking weird.

Pidge wanted him to cut her hair, something about wanting it to look like Keith’s, but Lance was too busy trying to sew clothes for all the Arusians.

“Come on , Lance! I know you can do it!”

Lance tried to explain to her that it was impossible for him to cut her hair into a mullet because it was too short, and he couldn’t cut her hair longer . Besides, he had a hundred tiny sweaters to knit and he was on a deadline.

Suddenly Keith was there, tossing his long, dark hair over his shoulder. It trailed down his back and across the floor like Rapunzel or some shit, “Look! I’m not going to hurt anyone, so just let me go!”

Let him go? From what? He didn’t look like he was trapped, was he stuck in a Tangled tower or something? Lance didn’t really feel like fighting Mother Gothel at the moment. He didn’t feel like doing much of anything, he felt so woozy and sleepy.

“C’mon, Lance! Wake up already!”

Was he asleep?

He opened his eyes and the room exploded in unexpected warmth, the floor approaching at an alarming speed. Something told Lance he should probably stop that, but his arms were too tired and heavy to respond like they were supposed to. He let out a half formed grunt, absently wondering how he’d look with a broken nose after crashing into the hard, Altean tile.

“Woah, Lance!” Hunk dived forward, stopping Lance’s descent with his body and lowering him gently to sit against the healing pod he’d just emerged from.

“Hunk? Pidge? Wha’s goin’ on?” His voice sounded weird, even in his own head. He was slumped awkwardly against Hunk’s large frame, still trying to clear his mind enough to take in his surroundings.

“Oh, Lance, thank god you’re alright!” Pidge was buzzing around them, her arms fidgeting restlessly like they did when she was anxious.

“Give him some air, guys!”

Was that- Shiro? Was he alright then?

Memories hit Lance like a slap to the face, the mission, Tolvalan possessing Keith, getting stabbed, the exorcism. He clawed against Hunk, trying to climb into an upright position, “Shiro? Keith! Where’s Keith?”

“Calm down, Lance.” Allura’s cool alien accent floated through the infirmary, and twisting around, Lance caught sight of her fluffy white hair, “You’re safe now.”

Yeah, he figured , but where was Keith? Had Tolvalan come back? It had been so long since Lance had performed an exorcism, what if he had messed something up? If Tolvalan had somehow dodged Lance’s spell, Keith would be his first choice for possession. It was always easier to take over a host the second time.

“I’m over here, Lance.”

Lance’s eyes snapped to the source of the quiet voice, and he nearly toppled back on top of Hunk in surprise. Keith was crouched against the infirmary’s far wall, hands bound by a very familiar pair of handcuffs. Lance didn’t even know they kept those. Shiro was so close he was nearly standing on Keith, as if he were standing guard over him.

“What the… why are you handcuffed?” Lance stood, one hand still on Hunk’s shoulder for balance.

The team fell quiet. It seemed like no one wanted to meet Lance’s gaze. Keith pulled uncomfortably at the cuffs, but made know progress. Lance knew from experience that there was no way of slipping out of them.

“Lance… how much do you remember?” Pidge asked, scuffing one sneaker against the floor nervously.

Lance froze, and glanced over to Shiro. How much had he told them? Did they already know? Or were they still piecing things together? Maybe it would be easiest just to tell the truth and get this over with quickly.

“We landed on the lava planet for a mission and were attacked and I got stabbed. Now why is Keith in handcuffs?”

Hunk swallowed nervously, looking at Lance as if he were about to fall apart, “Dude, Keith was the one who stabbed you.”

“What? No he’s not!”

“His knife was in your stomach, Lance! We had to pull it out of you!” Allura shook her head, “I know you two have never been on the best of terms, but none of us expected him to resort to such violent methods of-”

“It wasn’t him! He’s fine now, you can let him go!”

“And what makes you so sure?

“I exorcized him.”

The team fell silent again, only the steady hum of the ship’s stasis systems buzzing in their ears. Shiro shifted uncomfortably back and forth on his feet, and Pidge’s eyes narrowed with scepticism. Lance knew it seemed fanciful, but he needed the team to understand.

He hadn’t originally planned on telling the team, as knowing about the supernatural would make them all targets, but knowing demons could get so far away from Earth was a major spike in Lance’s original plan. How could he keep this a secret with demons attacking them left and right?

“Wait, what are you saying?” Pidge adjusted her glasses, a cold scowl spreading across her face. She was so science based and analytical, making her the most difficult to convince. “Keith was possessed?”

“By a demon, yes.”

Hunk frowned with concern, “Lance, you okay buddy? Did you hit your head?”

Great. Now they thought he had brain damage.

“No, let him speak,” Shiro reached down to unlock Nyma’s handcuffs from Keith’s wrists. Allura made a hesitant move to stop him, but was waved away, “you guys weren’t there, but there was definitely a… different presence. It wasn’t Keith at all.”

“Think about this, Shiro,” Allura didn’t try to handcuff Keith again, but stepped between him and the rest of the team, “he’s half Galra. He might have been overwhelmed by his Galra blood and-”

“No.” Lance interrupted. He could understand Allura’s concerns (despite being slightly racist), but they were unfounded, “It was my fault. The demon was trying to attack me and possesed Keith in the process. He didn’t do anything.”

What are you talking about ?” Pidge suddenly shouted, startling everybody, “Let’s entertain the idea for just a minute that demons are somehow real! Why would they be on a random planet in the middle of space? Aren’t they a religious aspect from Earth?”

Coran spoke up for the first time, one finger twirling through his orange mustache in what seemed to be a nervous tick, “No, it’s impossible that the demon is isolated only to Earth society. We Alteans also have such mythology. They must be some intergalactic species. Fascinating, how they spread so far without their existence being unquestionable defined is- ”

“But why would they be after Lance? And how does he know how to exorcise them?” Pidge wiggled her fingers in air quotes around the word “exorcise”, “Last time I checked, it’s not exactly common knowledge.”

“I’ve been trained to fight demons from the moment I was created. I know how to do an exorcism.”

“Oh yeah? What are you? Some kind of demon hunter, like in the movies?” Close, she was close. Such hunters did exist, but he wasn’t one of them.

“No. I’m an angel.”

A beat of silence. Then…

Pidge exploded in a fit of giggles, slapping her hand against the now empty cryopod, “You? An angel? Yeah right, now I know you’re messing with us.”

Not exactly how Lance thought his reveal would go. He would have at least expected a few gasps, a ‘why didn’t we see it before?’ and a new sense of awe and respect from his team members. Instead he got Pidge’s annoying, raspy laughter.

Hunk took one of Lance’s arms, trying to ease him back to the floor, “Lance, maybe you should sit down. Do you think you need a few minutes in the pod?”

“I don’t need to go back in the pod.” Lance hissed between gritted teeth, yanking his arm from Hunk’s hold.

Allura sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose, “Lance, we need you to be serious. What happened on the mission?”

“I am being serious!”

Listen to him! ” The hoarse voice rang through the room, and Lance had never been so grateful for Keith’s strange ability to capture everyone’s attention, “Look, when that thing was in me, I… I saw things.” Keith’s violet eyes met Lance’s, his expression cold and calculating. Lance wondered what kind of things Keith would have seen in the mind of Tolvalan.  “Lance isn’t lying. He wouldn’t lie about something so serious, so listen to what he has to say.”

Lance’s mouth felt suddenly dry. Was Keith defending him? Did he really trust Lance so much to believe him, even when he was spouting nonsense?

Pidge snorted, but Shiro locked eyes with Lance and nodded, telling him to go ahead.

“I was… I was born an angel,” Lance began, swallowing roughly, “but I was cast from Heaven and made into a human.”

“The demon called you a fallen.” Shiro stated, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Yeah, it’s what they call angels like me. Since I don’t have any divinity anymore, it makes me an easy target for monsters like me. I didn’t think it would be a problem so far from Earth, but, well, it seems there are Hell gates all the way out here.”

“Do you have any proof of any of this?” Pidge demanded, hands perched furiously on her hips.

Lance sighed, then twisted his arm behind him to toy with the zipper of his cryopod suit, peeling the spandex down to his waist to expose his torso. He turned around and the team gasped.

His warm mocha skin tone was marred by two waxy, pink scars. They ran parellel down the length of his back, from his shoulder blades to his hips. Each was over an inch thick and raised over the rest of his smooth skin, almost as if there were bones underneath.

“I used to have wings.”

Chapter Text

The cafe was busy. Morning rush brought customers in from all over the city, each hurrying to buy their coffees and get to work. In the large mass of students and businessmen, no one seemed to notice two teenage boys sitting in a small booth, shoved in the back corner of the shop.

Eyes slid from one side of the table to the other. No one saw the older teen, whose jacket bulged unnaturally in the back and whose eyes glowed with an ethereal light. No one saw the younger boy, whose face was peppered with cuts and bruises, whose tattered jacket did little to cover the painful burns plastered to his arms and chest.

They were invisible. An anomaly, as if they did not truly belong to the world. They sipped coffee and watched pedestrians through the large, storefront windows in a daze.

Lance finally broke the silence. “Why did you bring me here?”

“What? Is it a crime to want to see my baby brother?” Louis smirked, blowing bubbles through his tiny coffee straw as if he were a four year old.

“Yes, actually. It is.” Lance tapped his foot irritably, glancing around the cafe as if he expected someone to jump out at him, “You know I’m not supposed to be up here.”

Louis shrugged, “Says who?”

Lance slammed his palms against the table, making a loud crash and knocking over his cup. Coffee spilled in waterfalls over the edge of the table, “Says who? Says who? Says all of Heaven, Louis! Or did you forget that everyone hates me?”

A nearby woman started staring, the crash drawing her attention. Louis cursed quietly. He waved his hand and the woman abruptly turned away, looking back to her phone. “Calm down, Lance. You’re breaking my spell.”

“Calm down? Louis, ten minutes ago I was in hell.

Louis grabbed a handful of napkins from their dispenser next to the salt and pepper shakers, and began mopping up the spill, “I know, I know, just sit down and hear me out.”

Lance begrudgingly sat back down, crossing his arms firmly and watching his brother wipe down the table. “Why are we here?” He asked for the second time.

Louis sighed, dropping the napkins and looking back up to his younger brother, “There was an appeal… to your case.”

“What?” Lance’s jaw dropped, and he pitched forward slightly, his hands pressed into the edge of the table.

“Israfel, the angel who tried you, he was put on probation for not following the laws of the court. He kept making verdicts without defense. It was pretty clear your trial was bullshit, so I requested they revisit it, and they agreed.”

Lance leaned back into the booth, his hands tingling numbly. They were giving him another chance, they were really giving him another chance.

“When’s the second trial?” He whispered hoarsely.

Louis trailed a finger through the remaining coffee on the table, tracing shapes into the flimsy surface, “It already happened.”

“What! And you’re just telling me now ?”

“It happened really fast. The higher courts wanted it done and over with.”

Lance gaped, his mouth moving soundlessly in shock. It was a few minutes before he finally found the words to speak, “So… am I going back to heaven?”

Louis winced, “Uh… no. They still didn’t want you back in heaven. They did decide you don’t deserve hell, though. That’s good!”

“If I’m not going to heaven or hell, then where am I going?”

“You’re going to stay here. On Earth.”


 

Lance honestly thought everyone finding out he was a fallen would be a big deal. He had imagined it would be some life-altering moment that would shake the team and probably interfere with forming Voltron, so he kept quiet about it. That turned out to be a mistake. Everything seemed pretty calm once the team came to terms that yes, he used to be an angel. Considering the circumstances, everyone seemed to be taking the news rather well.

On second thought, Keith had started to avoid Lance. He hurried out of rooms whenever Lance walked in and ducked out of any conversations Lance tried to initiate, but everyone else was okay with it. Things had changed, but they were small changes.

Hunk, bless his soul, tried not to treat Lance any differently, but his natural curiosity and persistent questions were starting to get annoying.

“So, can you play the harp?”

“Uh, no?”

“What about a toga? Don’t angels wear togas?”

“I had a robe , for like, important things. I just wore normal clothes most the time.”

“How did you get your wings through your shirt? Do angels have holes in the back of their shirts? Where did you get your clothes? Is there like an angel mall in heaven?”

“Hunk… please…”

“Did you fight a lot? I bet you had to fight like, Hitler or something. Did you have a sword?”

“Jesus Christ, Hunk! No!”

Hunk fell silent, but started chewing on his lip like he did when he was holding something back. He rocked back and forth on his feet, like an anxious puppy waiting to be let outside.

Lance sighed in defeat, “What?”

“Did you know Jesus?”

“Hunk, I swear to God -”

Pidge, despite her initial misgivings, quickly found a way to reason Lance’s existence. She had told him as much as they played video games on the console rigged up in Lance’s room.

“You’re an alien.”

“What?” Lance’s fighter fell of a cliff, and the words ‘You Lose’ flashed across the screen in bright colors.

“I think you’re an alien. You mentioned there being gates to heaven and hell, right? Do they look like wormholes?” Pidge started another game, as if they were talking about something as mundane as the weather.

Lance had to stop to think, “I mean… I’ve never actually seen a heaven gate, but yeah, now that I think about it, I guess the hell gates look sorta like wormholes.”

“Heaven and hell are planets, angels and demons are their native inhabitants. They travel around the galaxy through wormholes, which explains why both Alteans and Humans have angel lore and how that demon that attacked you guys got so far out into space.” Pidge’s fighter knocked out Lance’s, “Boom, I just scienced religion.”

Pidge’s theory didn’t account for everything, but Lance knew better than to try and argue with her. If this was her way of coming to terms with Lance’s past, then he certainly wasn’t going to stop her.

Shiro dealt with the change the same way Shiro dealt with anything. He accepted the problem, tried to understand the problem, then came up with a way to fix the problem. The soldier in him made an appearance in the formulated step-by-step solution.

He accepted that Lance was an angel. He accepted that a demon had possessed Keith and attacked them, but he wanted to understand it.

He pulled Lance aside after a training session, “How did you get rid of the demon, the one that was in Keith?”

Lance had been surprised by the blunt nature of the question. Most the team had been avoiding the topic of demons, choosing to instead focus an the angels, but Shiro was different, so Lance answered honestly.

“I used half an exorcism.”

“Half?”

“Yeah, I pulled him out of Keith and stunned him for long enough for us to get away.”

Shiro raised an eyebrow, “You didn’t send it back to hell? I’m not Catholic, but I thought that’s what exorcisms were for.”

“Catholicism has nothing to do with it, and I don’t like sending things to hell.”

An awkward silence followed. Shiro looked uncomfortable, but Lance was firm in his gaze. He wasn’t sending anyone to hell ever again, and that was final.

“Teach me how to do an exorcism.”

“No.”

Shiro blinked in surprise. Lance had never refused an order so bluntly before. “Lance-”

“No. This isn’t your fight Shiro, focus on the war your in before jumping into another one. I’ll worry about the demons.”

“We can’t always know you’ll be able to. What if we’re on a mission without you?”

Lance just shook his head, “If I’m not with you then you won’t be a target.”

Shiro argued for a few more minutes, but Lance was adamant, and he eventually gave up. He didn’t seem happy about it, but he walked away muttering something about picking his battles.

Coran and Allura asked Lance the same question a day later, and Lance’s answer was the same. He wasn’t going to pull his friends into another war that didn’t belong to them. They had enough trouble on their hands already. This wasn’t their problem, and hunting demons was a lot more complex than just exorcising them.


 

It got cold in the castle at night.

Lance shivered and pulled his blanket tighter around him. He could take heat. He could take melt your face off warmth, but cold was a different thing entirely.

Usually if he got in bed and fell asleep before the heat stabilizers turned down then he was fine, but tonight he just couldn’t make his body shut down. He paced his room, he did stretches, he turned the volume on Pidge’s headphones so loud he couldn’t hear his own thoughts, but nothing was working. Now it was too cold to even think about going back to bed.

Maybe if he could get a water pouch or something from the kitchen his brain would reset and let him fall asleep. He tiptoed through the castle, thankful for his lion slippers so he wouldn’t have to touch the cold tile floors with his bare feet.

Light shone from the open kitchen door, flooding through the dark hallway. Someone was already there. Insomnia wasn’t uncommon with the paladins, so Lance really had no idea who he’d find as he inched his head around the doorway.

Long raven hair and a bright red half-jacket. It was Keith.

Lance tried to slowly back away, but he was only able to take a step before Keith looked up. Damn Galra hearing.

“Uh… sorry, I’ll just go.” He swiveled around and determinedly started to walk away. If Keith didn’t want anything to do with him, then Lance would make things easy and give him space. He couldn’t blame the red paladin for avoiding him. Not after everything that had happened with Tolvalan.

“Wait, Lance!”

Lance froze, then looked up hesitantly to meet Keith’s gaze. He was sitting in front of a bowl of space goo, his hair plastered to the back of his neck with sweat. It looked like he’d been training.

“You… you can stay. I don’t mind.”

Lance nodded, then took a slow step back into the kitchen. He paused, waiting for Keith to yell that he’d changed his mind. When he didn’t, Lance relaxed and made his way to the cabinet where the water pouches were stored. He could feel Keith’s eyes following him across the kitchen.

“Why are you still awake?”

Lance startled when Keith spoke, then and looked around to make sure that he really was talking to him . There was no one else in the kitchen, so Lance figured he was safe to respond. “I couldn’t sleep. Decided to get a drink of water. I didn’t mean to bother you.”

Keith frowned, “You’re not bothering me. You have as much right to the kitchen as I do.”

He said it lightly, like it was supposed to be a joke, but Lance didn’t laugh. So Keith ignores him for a week, then decides to start chatting randomly in the middle of the night like everything was perfectly normal. Sure.

Lance was too tired to try and figure out what was going on in the guy’s head. He drank his water pouch and they just stared at each other awkwardly, neither sure exactly what to do. Keith took another bite of his goo and Lance finished his water in silence.

“Well, good talk,” Lance finally said, tossing the empty pouch into the garbage disposal and making his way towards the door.

“Where do people go when they die?”

Lance froze, then slowly turned around. “I’m sorry, what?”

Keith looked shocked by his own boldness, and he started fidgeting with the sword at his waist, “I… I’m sorry is that a bad question?”

“No, no  you just caught me by surprise. I told you guys you could ask me anything.” Lance paused, what had Louis told him so long ago? Humans were intrigued by their own mortality, but what were you supposed to say when they asked the big question? “Uh, a lot is confidential obviously, but supposedly there’s a faction of heaven that’s entrusted with--”

“Supposedly?” Keith’s eyes narrow, “You don’t know?”

Lance faltered, “Of course I do, uh, human souls are sent to judgement and then they’re… and then…”

Keith clearly wasn’t falling for it, “What kind of angel are you? You don’t even know what happens after people die,” he snarled, pushing his plate away and standing up.

“I told you I was a minor angel, right? I just dealt with demons. No humans.”

“I thought out of all people, you could at least tell me--” Keith kicked his chair and it flew across the kitchen with a bang.

“Why do you need to know so badly?” Lance yelled, snarling when Keith whirled around to glare at him. Most angels weren’t trusted with that kind of knowledge. Did Keith think it could just be handed to anyone?

“I just do, okay?” Keith tried to growl, but his voice cracked. Lance took a step back. Whatever the reason, this was important to Keith. The kitchen fell silent and Keith slid to the floor. He looked exhausted.

“Listen, man. I don’t-- I wasn’t in charge of that kind of stuff, and I don’t know what’s up with you, but if it makes you feel better, humans don’t usually go to hell.”

“What?”

“It’s a common misconception. Hell is for demons and monsters, not for human souls.”

“You went to hell.”

“I wasn’t human.”

More silence. Keith eyes looked dead as he stared at Lance.

It took all Lance’s willpower not to wilt under those dark, expressionless eyes. He wondered if Keith could see the darkness that still dripped from his mutilated form. He wondered if he could see the corruption, the tainted divinity that still remained. Humans had an uncanny knack for perceiving souls, even if they weren’t aware of it.

“Do you see them?” Keith’s voice was low, barely a whisper, “When you go to the other side, do you see them?”

Lance had no idea who ‘them’ was, but he’d say whatever he had to as long as it got that haunted look out of Keith’s eyes, “I would imagine so.”

Keith stared at him for a moment, then started to laugh, “You have no idea what you’re talking about, do you?” His expression was still dark, but less desperate, so Lance counted it as a success.

“Yeah, no.”

Keith rolled his eyes, then stood up, “We should go back to bed before Shiro finds us. He makes rounds about this time.”

“Okay.” Lance let’s Keith lead as they leave the kitchen. He doesn’t say anything until they make their way back to the hall with their bedrooms, and Keith is halfway through his door, “I hope someday you find the answers you’re looking for.”

Keith didn’t miss a beat, “So do I.”

Chapter Text

The underlying tension in the castle slowly dissipated over the next few weeks. Keith and Lance were back to their usual bickering, Shiro was planning new training exercises, and Allura and Coran had finally stopped walking on eggshells around all the paladins.

Everything was finally getting back to normal. They started going on whole team missions again. Voltron was formed smoothly, without any conflict. Planets were won and lost, and Pidge was starting to wonder why they made such a big deal about Lance being an alien in the first place. Sure, there were a few missions when he firmly steered them away from some suspiciously-innocent looking aliens, but not much else had changed. It was still the same old Lance.

Same old Lance who was currently being an annoying pain in Pidge’s side.

“What are you doing?”

Pidge groaned as Lance toed into her workstation. He was wearing full-paladin armor, which was a little odd considering they hadn’t been out of the castle for a day or two. She could hear the pieces of altean metal tap together as Lance danced through her mess of unfinished projects. He picked up one of the screwdrivers she’d stolen from Hunk and started twirling it around.

She slapped it out of his hand, “Don’t touch that. I’m trying to make adjustments to Green’s sensors.”

Lance pouted, but didn’t leave like she hoped he would, “What kind of adjustments?”

He seemed genuinely curious, but Pidge really doubted Lance would be able to comprehend the complex changes she was making to Green’s tech. It had taken days of research for her to figure out the coding it would take to implement the program she wanted to install to the alien technology. It wouldn’t make sense to someone who’d never taken anything more than a basic garrison crash course on programming.

“Just adding some better tracking devices.”

There was a quiet ‘fwump’ noise, and Pidge looked over to find Lance sitting cross-legged on the floor next to her. Great. So he planned on staying.

“Anything I can help with?”

Pidge sighed and leveled Lance with a glare. He only offered to help her with his projects when he was either bored out of his mind or had stepped on too many toes and was hiding from Shiro and Allura.

“What did you do this time?”

Lance gasped and raised his hands in mock-innocence, “What? I haven’t done anything!”

Unlikely. Lance was always picking fights with Keith or getting into trouble with Hunk. Well, sometimes Pidge would join in, but lately, she’d been too busy looking for her family to participate in any pranking.

“Really?” She rose a skeptical eyebrow.

“I swear!” A smirk slowly spread across Lance’s face, and oh no, Pidge was in for it, “You could say I’ve been a perfect angel .”

A beat of silence.

“Are you serious?”

Lance burst into giggles, laughing euphorically at his own joke.

Pidge rolled her eyes, “Do you have something you want, or are you just going to bother me with your lame jokes?”

“Okay, first of all, my jokes are gold. Second off, Allura wanted me to tell you that we’re landing the castleship in a few dobashes.”

So he really did have a reason to disrupt her work. “We’re landing? Where?”

“Some planet called Albarion or something. Coran says they’re really well connected with the rest of the planets in this sector, so we’re gonna go down there and see who we can recruit to the coalition.”

“A diplomatic mission? Not really my forte, Lance.”

“Shiro says there’s gonna be a lot of different kinds of aliens, so he wants the whole team to go meet them all.”

Of course, Shiro wanted the whole team to go. They hadn’t split the team up for missions since the incident with Lance’s demon friend. Pidge didn’t think a larger group would make them less susceptible to demonic possession, but if it made Shiro and Keith feel better, she’d go down to the planet with them.

“I guess I should go get my armor on, then.”

“That’s the spirit! Come on, this is going to be fun!”

Pidge really should have known better.


 

The Albarion palace was impressive, Pidge had to admit.

Everything was a pale shade of bluish-green. The hallways had tall, vaulted ceilings and smooth, marble-like floors. Wide open windows lined the walls, showing off the planet’s highly-coveted ocean. The architecture was pretty impressive. She could understand why Hunk was going goo-goo eyes over it all.

“It’s really a marvel of engineering. I mean-- we’ve seen a lot of amazing buildings out here, but the way they’ve placed the pillars without endangering the structural integrity of the place. I wonder how they’ve distributed the weight so well. Maybe it’s the material. We should ask them about it.”

Keith was trying to look politely interested, but his eyes were glazed over and Pidge could tell he had no idea what Hunk was talking about. It was the same look as when Pidge tried to explain internet humor to him.

“Cute girl, incoming!”

Shiro had to grab Lance by the back of the armor to keep him from running off to introduce himself to the alien. Anchored to the elder paladin, Lance wasn’t able to do anything but shoot a pair of finger guns at the poor girl.

“Lance, we’re not here for flirting. Stay on your best behavior, we’re about to go meet the King.”

Lance groaned and rolled his eyes, but slowly lowered his finger guns, “Okay, dad .”

Shiro let him go, and Lance walked past the girl, waving disappointedly. They turned a corner and Lance put his hands on the base of his back, stretching backward and wincing.

“You okay?” Hunk asked, not missing the motion.

“Yeah, my back just hurts for some reason.”

Shiro stiffened, his eyes flashing with fear. “I’m so sorry… did I grab you too hard?”

“No, it wasn’t you Shiro!” Lance was quick to reassure him. They all knew how terrified Shiro was of accidentally hurting others. He was so careful not to use his Galra arm for anything but self-defense. “It’s been sore since we landed, totally not your fault.”

Shiro relaxed a little but still looked worried. “Did you sleep on it weird?”

Lance frowned, stretching his arms as far as his armor would let him, “Yeah, maybe. It just feels… funny.”

“Well, tell us if it gets any worse.”

The closer they got to the courtroom, the more aliens they ran into, and the louder it got. When they finally approached the main doors, it sounded like some kind of massive party was going on. The courtroom was massive, they could probably fit a lion or two inside comfortably. Hundreds of aliens were milling about, some carrying drinks and chatting with each other.

“Woah,” Pidge mumbled, “talk about a crowd.”

“Coran sent a message ahead. They should know we’re coming.” Shiro sounded uneasy. He was looking around like he was doubting that they were in the right place. Like maybe there was some other massive courtroom they were supposed to be in.

Hunk shrugged, “Maybe they decided to throw a party for us?”

It certainly looked like a party. It wouldn’t have been the first time one had been thrown in their honor. Pidge exchanged an uneasy look with Keith. Parties meant talking to people and trying to get on their good sides. Not something she was particularly good at.

“I don’t know--”

“Our esteemed guests!” A booming voice echoed off the walls and the chatter in the room slowly died, “The Paladins of Voltron!”

Gasps rang through the room. Pidge could see a couple of shorter aliens standing on tiptoe to try and see better. One started clapping, and soon the entire crowd was screaming and applauding like they were at some sort of pop concert.

“This way, this way, please.” Someone was ushering them forward, cutting through the crowd and bringing them to the front.

“Welcome, Paladins! We have been anxiously awaiting your arrival!”

Pidge did a double take as they approached the throne. Sitting on it was an alien with the longest blue hair and beard she’d ever seen. He looked like a Dumbledore who’d found hair dye and ponytails.

“Your majesty,” Shiro bowed, “It’s an honor to be here.”

Pidge glanced to the other paladins. Were they supposed to bow too? They hadn’t talked about this back at the castle. Hunk did an awkward half-bow and Keith fingered his bayard anxiously. Not knowing what else to do, Lance raised another pair of confused finger guns.

Pidge felt like slapping herself.

Thankfully, no one but the King seemed to be paying attention to them anymore. All the other aliens had turned back to their conversations.

“We’re ever so excited to have you. Would it be too bold of me to ask your planet of origin?”

Shiro smiled politely, “Of course not, we’re Earthlings traveling with two of our Altean friends. Our planet is pretty far from here, so you might not have heard of it.”

The King looked delighted, “Far from home, then? Not to worry! We have allies from all across the galaxy. In fact, Eladraan! Will you come here!”

A brightly-colored alien emerged from the crowd and approached the throne, “Yes, your highness?”

“This is Eladraan, our friend from the fifth quadrant. The royal family from her home have been allied with us for generations!”

Shiro shook one of her four, kaleidoscope-colored hands gently, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Pidge smiled and waved, not sure what else to do. She was more than happy to let Shiro take the lead with the diplomatic conversations. He was much better at saying what people wanted to hear.

The King stood and pulled another alien out of the crowd. He looked like a giddy child, showing off all his toys. “This is quite a foreign fellow. He’s a diplomat all the way from sector twelve!”

Pidge was shocked by how humanoid this one looked. He had shaggy brown hair, skin nearly the same shade as Lance, and was wearing a strange, silvery chestplate.

“Oh are these those pilots I’ve heard so much about?” An amused grin spread across his face, “The silly ones who think they can stand up to the Galra?”

What an ass.

She turned to say as much to Hunk, but his eyes weren’t on the strangely-normal looking alien. They were on Lance, whose eyes were suddenly huge. His arms were held stiffly to his side, his hands clenched tightly into fists.

Shit. Was it one of those aliens?

The diplomat seemed to notice Lance’s distress because he grinned and asked, “What do you think, Blue Paladin? Can your team fight such a powerful enemy?”

“Of course I can. It’s my job to fight evil,” Lance hissed through gritted teeth.

My job? Hadn’t the guy asked about the whole team?

He laughed like Lance had said something funny and replied, “I don’t know… I just don’t think some creatures were born for the sky. I mean, if you were meant to fly, God would have made you with wings, right?”

Warning bells were ringing like thunder in Pidge’s head.

Sky

God

Wings

Shit Shit Shit

The Alien turned away to start a conversation with the King and Shiro, and the rest of the paladins immediately leaned closer to Lance.

“He knows you’re an angel,” Keith whispered. It wasn’t a question.

“Yeah, no shit.” Lance kept glaring, refusing to take his eyes off of the asshole.

“Is he a demon?” Hunk’s voice was sharp with worry.

“No. He’s not a demon.”

“Is he dangerous? Do we need to fight him?” Pidge gripped her bayard. It would be so easy to shock this guy off his feet.

“No, you can’t fight him. Trust me, he’s more dangerous than anything you’ve fought before.” The fury in Lance’s voice was made scarier by the fact that Pidge had never heard him so angry before. There was clearly something personal between him and this guy.

“I don’t think I caught your name,” Shiro said, extending his hand as he had done with Eladraan.

The alien diplomat ignored it, and instead locked eyes with Lance.

“Marco. My name is Marco.”

Chapter Text

Something was very very wrong. Hunk could tell.

Staying on Albarion was risky for a lot of reasons. The planet was strange and put the whole team on edge. However, the King had invited them to stay longer and Allura insisted on keeping up formalities. To be honest, the beach was beautiful and it had been nice of the Albarions to let them stay a day to see the ocean. Keith and Pidge were splashing in the water, Allura was collecting shells further down the beach, and Shiro and Hunk were sitting underneath some large umbrellas with Lance. Everything seemed to be going fine.

At least to everyone else.

Lance was trying hard to seem normal, but Hunk could tell otherwise. It was all in the way Lance kept dodging questions about the diplomat back in the courtroom, in the way he hadn’t ventured further than a few steps into the surf, and in the way he kept stretching out his shoulders like his back was still sore. Keith yelped as Pidge splashed cold seawater over him, but Lance only smiled a little as they started chasing each other across the beach. Usually, he’d be jumping up to join in.

Hunk suspected Marco. Everyone had seen the way Lance had stiffened when the man had entered the room and Marco definitely knew Lance was an angel. He’d dropped way too many hints to just be a coincidence. Now they just had to figure out what Marco was. Hunk hadn’t completely taken demon off the table, even though Lance kept insisting that he wasn’t one.

“Paladins! How are the waves suiting you?”

Hunk looked up to find the Abarion King walking down the steps from the palace towards their umbrellas. He was wearing a pair of shorts. His long, blue beard was failing to cover the bright prints on his t-shirt. It wasn’t a pleasant image.

“The beach is beautiful,” Shiro hummed politely, “Thank you for giving the opportunity to see it.”

“Of course, of course, we do take pride in our oceans.” The King took pride in a lot of things, Hunk had noticed. He was like a child eager to show off all his toys. “I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve brought Eladraan and Marco along. They both showed interest in seeing our sunny shores.”

Yes, Hunk did mind. Any facade of relaxation had disappeared from Lance’s shoulders. He was sitting stiff as a board on his towel. The towel he’d barely left all day.

Lance - wanting to get into the ocean = ERROR

“Don’t be silly, your majesty,” Eladraan laughed, “I’ve seen your ocean many a time. I was here not a deco-pheob ago attending one of your many festivals.”

“Oh yes, of course, I remember.”

There was an awkward silence. Hunk got the feeling that the King really didn’t remember.

Marco smirked, raising his eyebrows amusedly at the king. He looked like he was trying not to laugh. Then he turned and locked eyes with Lance again, “Ah, so I get to meet these Voltage warriors again.”

Voltron ,” Lance corrected through gritted teeth.

“What did I say?”

Lance held up a hand gesture that made Hunk snicker and Shiro gasp, “ Lance!

The King and Eladraan frowned in confusion, probably not knowing what the sign meant, but Marco just laughed.  “Well if you really feel that way,” he dropped to sit on Lance’s towel, so close that his strange chest plate thing brushed up against Lance’s shoulders.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Lance hissed.

“Strange word choice, there, Blue Paladin.”

“Oh shut up.”

“You’ve gotten grouchy.”

“And you’re a jerk.”

“Is there a problem?” The King’s smile was still pasted on, but it had become stiff and didn’t reach his eyes, “There are other beaches if you’d rather be separate.”

“Of course not,” Marco laughed, slinging an arm around Lance, “I’m just getting to know the Voltage paladins.”

That mistake had been intentional, Hunk thought. Marco was mocking them.

“Oh, very well then. Eladraan and I are going to step into the water if anyone would like to join us.” The smile returned to the King’s face so quickly it was almost frightening. He walked towards the waves, followed closely by Eladraan. Hunk had never met any of her species before, and it was difficult to tell with her strange facial features, but she looked bored out of her mind.

“Lance, do you need to go back to the ship? I could call Coran and tell him you’re coming,” Shiro suggested. It sounded like Lance was being chastised, but Hunk could hear the concern in their leader's voice. He was trying to give Lance an out.

“You can’t leave , you haven’t introduced me to your team yet!” Marco tightened his hold around Lance’s waist and Lance winced.

“What are you even doing here, Marco?”

“I should ask you the same thing. We all know where you should be.”

“Oh, that’s nice. Good to see you too.” Lance jabbed his elbow into the small, unarmored triangle under Marco’s arm as if he’d done it a million times before. Marco yelped and drew away with a pout.

Hunk couldn’t help but be confused. Neither Lance nor Marco seemed to be malicious, just irritated with one another, “Am I missing something? Do you two know each other?”

Lance and Marco glanced at each other with an almost identical sheepish expression. Then Marco broke into a shit-eating grin.

“Do we know each other? Lance, you haven’t told them?” He looked up at Hunk and Shiro, “This is my baby brother!”

Oh.

Marco was an angel .

***

“What do you mean he’s your brother?” Keith demanded, towel still draped over his head as Shiro tried to apply sunburn lotion to his cherry-red shoulders.

“I mean brothers. Hermanos. Otherbrays.”

Pidge snorted and yanked her hair out of the tiny ponytail she’d had it in. They were all sitting in an empty room inside the castle, getting cleaned up from their day on the beach. Shiro and Hunk had enthusiastically filled the others in on their revelation about Marco, while Lance sat sulkily in the corner.

Keith frowned, “I don’t get it. How does that work?”

“Technically all angels are siblings, but we were split into smaller groups of families when we were created.” Lance scraped wet sand off the bottoms of his feet, carefully avoiding eye contact with the rest of his team, “Marco is the oldest in my family group. He was also my commanding officer.”

“Created?” Pidge asked at the same time Hunk said, “Commanding Officer?”

Lance paused, then decided to ignore the harder question for one that was easier to answer, “You remember how I told you that I hunted demons? That was my job, and Marco was in charge of me and my sisters. We were pretty good at it.”

“So Marco hunts demons too,” Shiro said slowly. He still hadn’t dropped the exorcism thing. Lance knew he wanted to learn how to do it.

“He used to. I haven’t seen him in a while, and he’s clearly been promoted to some sort of intergalactic position.”

“He seems like a grade A douche,” Pidge said bluntly, “did you hear how he was talking about Voltron? It’s like he thought we were just a bunch of kids!”

“Yeah he’s not the nicest,” Hunk agreed.

Lance opened his mouth, he didn’t know yet if he was going to defend Marco or help trash him, but he was interrupted by a loud beeping noise coming from Shiro’s helmet in the corner. They all turned to stare at it blankly.

“Uhh, I think it’s for you Shiro,” he said as a half-hearted joke.

Shiro’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, but he slowly stood up and walked over to the corner. His helmet was beeping louder and more frequently. He bent over to pick it up, but as soon as he touched the visor a brilliant beam of blue light burst out of it.

Everyone jumped back in surprise as Coran’s face was projected into the room. The image was flickering wildly, and his face was grey and distorted, but there was no mistaking the orange-haired Altean.

“Palad… must… -urn to… need your… -ediatly…” He fizzled into a loud static hum.

Keith crouched next to the helmet, tapping the top of it, “What’s wrong with it?”

“Something’s blocking the connection. Pidge can you-”

“Already on it.”

Pidge tore the mesh insides of the helmet away, exposing a mess of Altean wires and crystals. She fiddled with them for a few moments, and suddenly Coran’s image became clear.

Three haunting words fell from his lips.

Galra are here .”