Veronica knew, logically, that Lance wasn’t the same person now then who he was when he left. Sometimes though, there are moments, when Veronica notices just how different he has become. Something happened in space - fighting a war, she supposes- that changed him. Now, Veronica had lived through an alien invasion and she hasn’t changed to drastically- but Lance… Lance lived through very different things.
Veronica always used to barge into Lance’s room of a morning to wake him up, and when one morning he was late to breakfast, she figured she’d bring back the old tradition.
She opened Lance’s door without knocking and watched as Lance jumped up in the bed, on one knee in an instant, with his rifle aimed at her. When he recognised Veronica, he sighed, his gun disappearing and he fell backwards, putting an arm over his face.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to- it was just a reflex,” Lance said.
“It’s alright Lance.” Veronica approached Lance slowly though, and her heart hammered in her chest. It wasn’t the gun that had scared her, but the look on Lance’s face. It was a look she had never seen- it was void of all emotion, his eyes were dark and he looked… “I was just coming to get you for breakfast.”
“Oh, thanks,” Lance said, moving to get up, “I’m on space time I suppose.”
“I think the rest of your crew are as well. None of them turned up except for the red haired Altean. Coran.”
“Coran slept sporadically on the castle. He was always awake when you never expected him to be. I’ll grab the others, and we’ll be out in a couple of dobashes. Maybe a varga if people are extra tired.” Lance laughed lightly as he said that.
“What?” Dobash? Varga? What were those?
“Oh sorry, space time, literally. We’ll be out in a couple of minutes, maybe an hour, depending on how tired everyone is.”
“Right, of course. Take your time.”
Veronica walked back out of Lance’s room, her brain looping that whole interaction. Sometimes she forgot how long Lance had been away, and how different his experiences have been.
“Lance it isn’t that big of a deal. I can fight, let me spar with you.” Veronica didn’t understand why he was being so stubborn. Veronica might not be a fighter by design, but she knew how to fight.
“No Veronica. I’m not arguing anymore. I’m sparring with Keith.”
“Just tell me why.”
“It’s important that we work on our teamwork,” Lance said, but he avoided eye contact when he spoke.
How can you work on teamwork while sparring? It isn’t logically sound. But Veronica also saw Lance’s set jaw and she knew he wasn’t going to relent.
“Fine,” she said. “But I want to watch you spar with Keith. Learn a few pointers.”
“No! Uh- I mean, just work out in the other room. I don’t want you to watch me spar with Keith.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“Ronnie, please. Just do it.”
Veronica didn’t know what to say because Lance seemed almost… desperate. She nodded, walking away. She didn’t know why he didn’t want her to watch but he didn’t and she had to respect that. Things weren’t the same as they were when they were kids- they had to respect each others privacy now.
Living on the Atlas was weird. Veronica wasn’t used to being in a confined space that floats with lots of other people, all living their lives. Even the Voltron crew were jumpy on board the Atlas, though she couldn’t imagine why. They had spent years on a ship basically identical to this one.
At least eating was familiar. It was just like when she was a lower rank in the Garrison and had to eat with all of the other recruits. Lots of people talking amongst their friends, getting up to grab more food, or get a drink. The constant noise was almost calming to her now, like when she used to live at home. Now her home had combined with her job.
Veronica was currently sitting at a table with her family, and adjacent to her table was the Voltron crew- including Lance. The McClain family kept bringing them into the conversation, which was great and entertaining at first, but Lance’s answer starting getting terser, and he was gripping his eating utensils in his hands a little tighter than necessary.
“Lance, that was uncalled for.” Veronica snapped at Lance after he had been short with Marco. Lance opened his mouth, probably with a harsh retort, when Shiro and Hunk picked him up by his arms and took him out of the cafeteria.
“What was that about?” Luis asked.
“He was overstimulated,” came a monotone reply from Keith. Or perhaps it wasn’t monotone, but straightforward. They were pretty similar in Veronica’s experience.
“We’re Lance’s family,” her mum said indignantly. “He’s been around us his whole life. We’ve always been this way and not once has he ever responded like that.”
“Not his whole life.” Keith replied. He was staring at the family now, his eyes intense. “We’ve lived on a ship together for years. It was just the seven of us for most of that time- with the same routines and habits. The Atlas is too much sometimes.”
Silence encompassed the McClain table, and they exchanged guilty glances. Veronica had just assumed that it would go back to normal but she supposed, logically, that was impossible.
“Keith is right.” Pidge chimed in. “We’ve all experienced it since being on the Atlas. Lance just tries to hide it because he wants to feel normal with you guys.”
“He is normal with us,” Veronica said.
“Yeah, but do you know how much effort he puts in to keep it that way?”
Veronica avoided eye contact with her family this time because, honestly, no. She hadn’t even considered that this could even be an adjustment for Lance, let alone a hard one. He had acted the same way as always and she had just assumed… She was such an idiot. She knew better than to just assume things. She was an analyst, so why did she fail at analysing her own brother?
Veronica’s insomnia hadn’t acted up in a while, but it shows up every now and then. Tonight was one of those nights. She had stayed up doing more research but her brain wasn’t functioning the way it needed to in order to make any progress.
Veronica decided to take a lap of the Atlas and try to clear her mind. She noticed a light up ahead and gravitated towards it, curious to see who else was awake.
“-honest. Did you really vote for me because you didn’t want to be stuck with me for eternity?” That was Lance’s voice. Why was he awake? Who was he talking to?
“Not exactly.” Keith’s voice. “It’s complicated- but I didn’t want to give to real answer for the sake of entertainment. Honestly, part of it was me not wanting to listen to you being called dumb anymore. You aren’t dumb Lance, not at all.”
“Aw, Keith, that was really sweet.”
“Yeah, well… whatever. I also wanted you to see your family again.”
Veronica’s heart jumped and she rushed away down the corridor. She knew she wasn’t spotted but the mention of her (though a little indirectly) had reminded her that she was eavesdropping.
Veronica hadn’t meant to snoop, but she saw Lance and Keith sparring from the corner of her eye and curiosity got the better of her. She positioned herself so she could see them but they couldn’t see her.
They moved so quickly, trading blows back and forth. They had both activated their bayards and were fighting with swords- Lance had a sword now? . The clanging of the swords echoed around the empty room. But what surprised her was how ruthless they were. They didn’t pull their punches and they fought strategically. She watched them in a shocked silence for their entire sparring session and was surprised at the end of the session how they laughed and joked with each other, despite being at eachothers throats moments before.
“You’re getting better with a sword, it was almost a fair fight,” Keith said as they grabbed water.
“Hey! It’s totally a fair fight- you may have won but we fought longer this time.”
“Only because you knocked our bayards away and we moved to hand to hand combat.”
“Yeah, well, not everyone has been fighting as long as you.” Lance’s tone was different now, moving towards a sort of self-deprecating. Veronica moved, wanting to shake Lance and remind him how great he is, but Keith beat her to it.
“Lance, I’m joking.” Keith put an his hand on Lance’s shoulder as he said that. “You are amazing. I don’t say that lightly. You’ve improved so much, you adapt to every situation and save our skins so often. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”
Veronica watched as Lance gave Keith a small, genuine smile, before he shook himself and perked up. It wasn’t entirely fake, but Veronica knew that Lance was excellent at putting on a mask.
“You’re right Keith, I am awesome.” Lance did a little dance, grinning like crazy. But his smile turned smaller once more and he stepped a little closer to Keith. “Seriously Keith, thanks.”
Lance pulled Keith in for a hug which they held for a little longer than average, or so Veronica calculated. Not that she timed them. But she knew that they were lingering, which meant that Veronica had to re-evaluate who she thought Lance had a crush on.
“Lance, are you okay?” Veronica asked, sitting down beside him. They were on the viewing deck, looking directly into space. If she wanted to, Veronica could almost pretend she was floating in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but space around her.
“I guess I’m just homesick,” Lance said, sounding like he was lost.
“But Lance… you are home.” Veronica didn’t understand what was going on.
“Yeah, sorry. I don’t know what I’m saying.” Lance got up and stretched. “Just a bit tired I think. It’s been a long Deca-Phoeb- I mean year. It’s been a long year.”
Veronica watched as he walked away, not sure what had just happened. She made her way towards where Shiro usually spends his time- she needed to talk to him about some information on the Atlas.
She found him talking to Coran, the quirky Altean.
“-miss it.” Coran was saying, his tone quite a bit sadder than it usually was. Though sadder isn’t quite accurate. It was as if something had cracked inside of him and he was mourning the loss of someone very close to his heart.
“I know what you mean Coran. The castle was our home for years. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for you.”
That stopped Veronica dead in her tracks. Shiro was right, obviously. That ship they had lived in must have been home. Does that mean that Lance is actually homesick? But for the castle ship? God, Veronica feels like such a terrible sister.
“Oh, I’ll be alright Shiro. But sometimes I do miss it just being the seven of us, doing training exercises. A lot has changed over these past Deca-Phoebs. A lot has changed…”
Shiro laughed at that, a little bitterly in Veronica’s opinion. He looked across and saw Veronica, who was just standing awkwardly, staring.
“Sorry sir,” Veronica said, her brain scrambling to swap from analyst sister to analyst woman. “There are a few things I need to talk to you about regarding the Atlas.”
Veronica knocked on Lance’s door before entering, wanting to talk to him about how he needs to start talking about his feelings with his family. She opened her mouth to start talking when she noticed there were two people on the bed instead of one.
“Shh,” Keith whispered, “don’t wake him.”
“Oh, uh, sorry, I, uh, didn’t mean to, uh, to interrupt whatever, is uh-”
“I’ll just, uh, go.” Veronica turned and basically ran out of the room.
The next morning Veronica cornered Lance just after breakfast.
“So… you and Keith?” She asked. Lance blushed, but he couldn’t keep a smile off his face.
“What about me and Keith?” He asked.
“How long have you two been together?”
“Not super long so please don’t tell anyone else in the family. I’m not ready to share what we have yet.”
“Are you happy? Not just in the relationship but… in life?”
Lance hesitated a little, shuffling his feet.
“Please be honest.”
“There are good days and bad days. The nightmares sucked for a while. But Keith helps. He makes everything so much easier. I’m even sleeping better. And having “paladin-time” and being with the Castle of Lions crew has been really great, like a piece of home. I mean- um-”
“Lance, I get it. Well, I don’t really get it but logically, I know what you mean.”
“It’s just- we’ve been away from earth for so long and sometimes I really miss being in space. I miss being able to go to my lion’s hanger. I miss flying through open space. It’s harder than I thought being back here. But Keith makes it easier. Being back with the family makes it easier. I just get really into my head sometimes and I just need someone to get me back out.”
“And Keith helps with that?”
“Yeah. So does the rest of the crew. Sometimes, if I’m really bad, Kosmo finds me and zaps me to someone- usually Keith- who can help.”
“You sound like a real family.”
“Yeah, we are. In Voltron, our minds have to unite y’know? We have to work in sync. It’s made us a pretty close family over the years.”
“Yes Lance, I can see that. I’m glad you’re happy. You deserve it.”
Veronica gave Lance a brief hug, before she walked away. She wasn’t on vacation after all, and she had work to do.
Lance watched his sister walk away and he second guessed his decision to be honest about what was going on through his head. He turned to walk towards the viewing deck, hoping to clear his mind, when Kosmo and Keith appeared above him, falling and knocking him to the ground.
“Hi,” Keith said, shamelessly lying on top of Lance.
“Hi to you too,” Lance replied, wrapping his arms around Keith. “What’s going on?”
“Was feeling over-stimulated. Needed a break. Found you.”
“Wanna head to the viewing deck?”
“Sounds good to me.”
Lance and Keith walked hand in hand towards the viewing deck, brushing shoulders every now and then, and watching Kosmo run around their legs happily.
As they got closer, Lance noticed that there were already people on the viewing deck and his heart dropped a little. He turned to see if Keith had noticed, and he had, but his eyes were narrowed.
“Is that- Shiro?” Keith asked, causing Lance to turn back to get a better look.
“Yeah, and is that Pidge? No- it’s Matt. Huh, wonder what they’re doing out there.”
“Let’s just… leave them to it.” Keith said, his voice sounding a little strained.
“Something you’d like to share?”
“Not… just yet. I want to get clarification from Shiro first. But later, I promise.”
“Head back to my room?”
“Maybe mine,” Keith said, a small smile tugging at his lips. They began walking to short distance to Keith’s room, still holding hands. “Your sister walked in last night when you were asleep. She left pretty quickly once she saw me but I don’t have siblings and nieces and nephews to come running into my room at any time they want.”
“Good call. I wanna kiss your face so bad and I’d rather not have an audience.”
“I bet I want to kiss your face more,” Keith challenged.
“Oh yeah?! I’ll show you!” Lance replied, opening Keith’s door and pulling them both in.
“Please do.” Keith closed the door behind them and let Lance drag him towards the bed.
They kissed like they had no time left, because sometimes it felt that way- even now. Keith pulled Lance closer by his jacket, which Lance shrugged off his shoulders before pushing Keith’s off of him.
They were practically horizontal now, with Lance hovering over Keith, kissing the quiznack out of him. They slowed the kisses down, and Lance ran his hands through Keith’s hair, enjoying the feeling of Keith’s hands roaming over his back and shoulders. Lance pulled away to start kissing down Keith’s neck, thrilling in the small moans Keith was making, and the way that he arched up and moved so his neck was further exposed.
Keith’s door burst open and Pidge came running in.
“Keith! We seriously need to- AAHHH! MY EYES! MY POOR, POOR, EYES!”
“Pidge! Don’t you knock?” Keith asked, his voice sounded very strained. Pidge’s eyes were still closed and she shook her head, turning and running back out of the door.
“Next time,” Lance said, watching Keith grow redder and pretending he wasn’t just as red, “we are going into one of our lions.”
“I don’t think they’d like that Lance.”
“I dunno man, I feel like Red’s been trying to set us up since day one.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I dunno, just a feeling. Now, where were we?”
“Nope,” Keith said, shaking his head. “I am way too embarrassed and terrified of people coming in.”
“Cuddling sounds… nice.”
Lance maneuvered so he was no longer on top of Keith and was lying down next to him. Keith put his head in the crook of Lance’s neck and Lance wrapped his arms around Keith. They laid there in silence and Lance felt a warmth explode from his chest. Like the feeling of home, of the familiar. Lance sighed contentedly, and snuggled closer to Keith, letting the warmth run through his body.
“Pidge didn’t close the door,” Keith mumbled into Lance’s neck.