Krolia’s the first to wake up. Sitting up and stretching before looking next to her and smiling. Keith was sleeping peacefully next to her, with Acxa next to him and Regris behind her. It was an adorable sight.
“It’s good to see him sleeping so peacefully.” Krolia nods her head in agreement, turning to face her leader.
“Indeed, Kolivan.” Krolia reaches out and lightly brushes some fo Keith’s bangs away from his face. “The nightmares have ceased. At least, for now.”
Kolivan nods at Krolia before looking around as a few groans and murmurs are heard. The rest of the Blade are waking up.
“Good morning everyone.” A few rounds of ‘good morning’ answer Kolivan before he turns to face Keith again. Should anyone wake the youngest kit up? He’s been having such a hard time sleeping between nightmares and stress of protecting the universe. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to let the poor boy get a bit more sleep……
“Keith! Acxa! Everyone’s waking up!” And there goes Kolivan’s idea. Thanks Regris.
“Regris! Not so loud! You’ll startled them!” Regris’ ears tilt back in slight guilt before gently shaking Acxa’s shoulder.
“Sorry guys, but you have to wake up. The universe won’t protect itself.” Acxa only curls around her twin brother more. As if to shield him from harm that neither Krolia or Kolivan would allow to come to them.
“Acxa, Keith, seriously, wake up. We need to train and…..” Antok grabs Regris’ shoulder and shakes his head. He then looks to Krolia, a silent request that the mother of the two kits be the one to wake them up.
Nodding her head in understanding, Krolia scoots closer towards Keith before running her clawed finger along his cheek. To a human or Altean, this could be seen as threatening or suspicious. But to every Blade member in the room, it was a gesture was gentle and soothing.
“Keith, Acxa, it’s time to wake up. We all have a busy day, my kits.” Krolia whispers at the two, patiently waiting for someone to move and alert the other.
Keith ends up being the first to wake up.
Krolia and Regris both coo as Keith’s eyes open, blinking a few times before violet irises focus and he begins to sit up. In turn, Acxa is moved, causing her to stir and eventually rise as well.
“Morning everyone.” Acxa grunts, but leans on her twin as another round of ‘good morning’ settles around the group.
“What’s the plan for today?” Krolia stands up and holds her hand out for Keith to tae, which he does. She then directs her hand to Acxa, who nods in thanks before standing as well and following Kolivan out of the nest and towards the mess hall.
“I was thinking that it’d be a good idea to go to the Space Mall today. We’re running low on food and other necessities. And I distinctly remember you needing more clothes.” Keith blushes and attempts to shrink under Kolivan’s amused, but stern look.
“Yeah, you’re not getting out of that today. Sorry Keithy, but it’s happening.” Keith rolls his eyes, but smiles fondly at his twin.
“I guess I’m trapped now.” It’s Acxa’s turn to roll her eyes.
When everyone enters the mess hall, they meet several other Blade members, who have already risen and been eating for quite some time. As Keith and Acxa are lead to get food by Regris, Kolivan clears his throat to get the attention of the entire room.
“Attention, everyone! I will be taking Antok, Ulaz, Thace, Krolia, Regris, Acxa, and Keith to the Space mall today to get more food and other necessary supplies! I’ve already received a list, so nobody has to worry about us missing anything.” Kolivan’s announcement receives several loud voices of confirmation. Satisfied, he nods his head and walks ot get his own food.
Breakfast is quickly eaten before everyone goes their own separate ways to get out of their sleepwear, get on their armour, and wash out their mouths. When all is finished, they meet up at the ship of choice. Krolia and Antok sit in the cockpit and prepare for flight while everyone else sits in the cabin.
“Alright. We’ll get restocks on food and other necessities before walking around a bit to find Keith some clothes.” Everyone nods at Kolivan’s plan before Regris perks up with a teasing smile on his face.
“That part might take a while since Keith’s pretty small for a Galra. Or just in general.” A chorus of laughter echoes through the ship. Keith throws regris a dirty look, though it doesn’t have any true venom in it.
“At least I don’t have to worry about hitting my head on any doors from being too tall. And I can hide and crawl through vents more easily.” Regris doesn’t even bother with a comeback. It’s true.
As the ship lands at the Space Mall, everyone unfastens their seatbelt and exits the ship. Upon entering, a few surprised expressions take place when the mall appears to be relatively empty. Well, empty compared to how it normally is.
“Maybe today will be an easy shopping day.” Keith looks to Acxa and nods while Regris eyes the room ahead suspiciously. It’s quiet. It’s nerve wracking.
“Seeing as there’s a smaller chance we’ll lose each other, why don’t we split into groups? Thace, Ulaz, Antok and myself will search for food and other necessities while you all get weapon cleaners and new clothes for Keith?” A nod of confirmation is all Kolivan get before the group splits up.
Getting the weapons cleaner was easy and quick, so before Keith knows it, he finds himself in a clothes store with Acxa and Regris bringing out random outfits for him to try.
“How about these tan tops and pants? As well as this red jacket?” Keith examines the jacket briefly before nodding in approval at his mother.
“Looks good.” Krolia smiles and calls Acxa and Regris over to tell them that it’s time to pay and leave.
Unsurprisingly, both of them pout. Apparently, they had some cute looking clothes that they wanted Keith to model. Krolia, beyond amused, decides to kill two birds with one stone: she’ll go pay for the clothes that she and Keith picked out while Keith gives the other two mischievous kits a quick fashion show.
“Fine. But only because I can’t handle you two pouting on the way home.” Acxa and Regris smile at each other before pulling the youngest kit out of Krolia’s sight.
By the time Krolia pays and is ready to leave, Keith’s tried on five different outfits, all different combinations of shirts and pants. Some shorts.
“Alright my young kits, it’s time to go. Let’s not keep Kolivan and the others waiting.” Keith nods in thanks to his mother before placing hsi armour back on and helping her with the bags of clothes. Meanwhile, Acxa and Regris start to put the clothes they took away.
Before Acxa regroups with her mother and twin brother, she makes eye contact with a very familiar being. Specifically, a very familiar paladin. Growling, she makes sure that the green paladin can see her harsh glare before jogging up to her mother, twin, and Regris.
“The paladins are here!” Krolia’s eyes widen before she too narrows her eyes and growls.
“Come then. We’ll regroup with Kolivan and get Keith on the ship.” Keith himself is frozen, memories of the harsh treatment and hate filled words spit at him violently return before he’s brought back to the real world by Regris pulling him.
“Come on. You can reminisce on what they did to you later. On the ship. Where everyone can comfort you. But right now, we gotta get you out of here first.” Keith nods, a bit numbly as Regris and Acxa stand on either side of him. Krolia guarding her kits from the back.
Fortunately for them, they don’t run into any more paladins while looking for Kolivan. Oh, no. The trouble comes on their way out, with a panicked voice calling out to them. Specifically, calling out to Keith.
“Keith! Dude, wait up!” Acxa turns to growl and stand protectively in front of her twin, while Regris stands a bit behind her, his ears tilted back and his teeth bared.
Kolivan, ever the calm one in situations like this, simply turns to face the yellow paladin known as Hunk with narrowed eyes and a scowl firmly in place. When Hunk reaches the group, Kolivan speaks. The tone and slight growl in his words have Hunk shaking in his skin.
“What do you need, yellow paladin? If it’s for another missing briefing or your crew swishes to share intelligence with us, then please save it for later when we’ve reached headquarters and can record it.” Huk rapidly shakes his head before bringing his finger up, signalling that he needs a minute.
The Blades, not including Keith, watch him with suspicious eyes as he pants and bends over in front of him. Is he really that winded from running towards them?
“It has nothing to do with any mission briefings or intelligence, I promise.” Kolivan nods his head stiffly before stepping forward. Antok and Thace flank his sides while Ulaz and Krolia focus on the kits. Krolia trying to calm Acxa down and Ulaz keeping a careful eye on Regris, should the latter pull out his weapon.
“I-we need to talk to Keith. A lot’s happened in the last few weeks and it’s important that it be discussed. He’s still a paladin of Voltron.” Kolivan glares at Hunk, who in turn, cowers a bit since the Blades leader tower above him. Quite a lot.
“I don’t think that’s wi-” “You bet that a lot’s happened in the last few weeks!” Kolivan turns to face Acxa, who’s panting harshly and baring her teeth.
“And if there’s going to be a conversation of any kind, it’s going to be you and the rest of the paladins apologizing to Keith. Endlessly!” Kolivan looks to Krolia, who’s holding her daughter back from pouncing, before turning to face Hunk gain. This time, the human doesn’t wear an expression of fear or uncertainty. Now, it’s of determination and a bit of frustration. Or maybe annoyance.
“Look, I get it. A lot of the things we all said and did were a bit rash. But can you blame us? Finding out one of your friends is half galra, the enemy, is a bit shocking.” Keith’s eyes widen before he looks to Acxa and Regris in fear. Wrong choice of words Hunk, wrong choice of words.
“Rash?! Oh, they were rash alright. Downright cruel and malicious as well!” Keith drops the bags he’s holding to grab Acxa’s arm, preventing his twin from leaping and mauling Hunk.
“Acxa, please! Let’s just go back to the ship and let Kolivan and Antok talk this out! They’re a bit more calm!” Acxa struggles briefly before hearing the naked plea in Keith’s voice.
‘Right,’ Acxa mumbles in annoyed tone in her head, ‘my twin still cares for them. For some unknown reason.’
One glance at Keith’s startled eyes has Acxa backing down completely, turning to face her startled twin and helping him gather the bags that he dropped. She doesn’t look at her mother or Kolivan when she starts walking Keith back to the ship. She knows that she has their permission.
As Kolivan and the others deal with Hunk, soon to be the rest of the paladins, Acxa helps Keith into the cabin before sitting down and pulling him into her. She strokes his head a few times before purring lightly in an attempt to comfort him from the trauma he’s about to experience again.
‘Even after all of this time, they won’t leave him alone. They refuse to allow him to move on.’ Acxa almost growls out her thought. What stops her when Keith starts to shake and whimper as memories assault him. If not for her twin stopping her, she might’ve just gone back into the mall and murdered all of the paladins herself.
“Save your breath, princess. Pretty much anything you say will go in one ear and out the other.” Kolivan sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose as Regris challenges Princess Allura.
Splitting up had been a terrible idea. Goes to show that you must always be prepared for anything. Regardless of where you are and how occupied it is.
“This doesn’t concern you. This conversation is reserved for Keith and the rest of us.” Regris growls and reaches for his blade.
“Regris, do not. Go help Acxa watch over Keith on our ship. I’d rather not be permanently banned from the Space Mall.” Regris nods his head before letting go of his blade handle and stomping towards the ship, his ears still pinned back in agitation.
“I would’ve thought that after seeing how we reacted with Keith, you’d learn not to aggravate our kits. Guess I was wrong to assume such a thing.” Kolivan glares at Allura before turning his attention to the black paladin, Shiro.
“I understand that you desire to sort things out with Keith.” Shiro nods and steps forward, ignoring the uncertain look that Allura gives him.
“None of us meant to hurt him like that. It was just a shock to all of us.” Krolia stops Shiro there. She may respect him since he helped raise Keith, but she’s also furious that he allowed Keith’s abuse.
“I would like to argue with you there. What happened to Keith was pure abuse. You may have not meant to hurt him, but your teammates certainly did.” Lance goes to object, only for Antok to interrupt him.
“Indeed. Keith has had endless nightmares and continues, day in and day out, to question his self worth.” Allura frowns and goes to speak up only for Krolia to growl at her.
“Do not even try to come up with anymore pathetic excuses. I may sympathize with you since your plant and race were wiped out by galra, but Keith took no part in that. He wasn’t even born! So you blaming your actions on the petty excuse of being shocked and upset is not something any of us are going to revisit.” If looks could kill, Allura would be dead right now. Yet, despite the warning, she opens her mouth and speaks.
“But it’s true! How would you react to learning that someone who was supposed to be your best friend and trusted allie was apart of a species that wiped out your entire planet? What would you do?” Antok lays a hand on Krolia’s shoulder while Kolivan decides to answer.
“Our motto is knowledge or death, princess. As such, it would be justified to be suspicious, but not to cause harm.” Allura glares up at Kolivan and goes to say something only for Pidge to cut her off.
This conversation just does not respect the rules of having turns to speak.
“Look, we get it, alright? We messed up and have no justification for it. But you don’t have any right to keep Keith from us. And if you’re going to keep preaching that what we’ve done is terrible and that we should be ashamed, then let us apologize to him.” If not for Kolivan’s own anger, he’d be impressed with the small green paladin. She manages to find more logic and reason than the princess these days.
“We have more than a right to keep him from you if it guarantees his safety and happiness.” Shiro gasps at Ulaz.
“Keith’s…...happy to be away from us?” Kolivan sighs and holds a hand up before Krolia can speak. No doubt she’s going to spit venom on how true that is.
“Keith is safer, yes. But happier? That’s yet to be determined. Trauma and scars don’t heal over the course of a week.” Shiro looks at the rest of the paladins before looking to Kolivan. Anyone who can see his eyes properly can tell he’s having an internal battle with himself.
“If that’s the case, can you tell him that we’re sorry and wish to speak with him?” Shiro’s conclusion calms Kolivan slightly. The boy won’t push, but he remains determined to try and make things right.
“We will tell him that you are sorry and wish to speak with him. The looks of your teammates says otherwise.” Krolia narrows her eyes at Kolivan, but doesn’t comment. She wants to trust that her leader will do what’s best for her kit.
“If that is all, then we’ll be going.” Kolivan swiftly turns, leading Antok, Thace, Ulaz and Krolia back to the ship.
The paladins, by this point, know better than to try and push the situation.
“That went rather well.” Krolia scoffs before entering the ship. What she sees makes her go from furious mama bear to worried cat mother.
Keith is sobbing in Acxa’s chest while Regris rubs his back. Both he and Acxa are purring as well, taking turns to whisper words of comfort to Keith.
“Acxa, Regris, we have returned.” It takes a moment for either kit to snap out of their trance, but when they do, Regris is the first to speak.
“What was the compromise?” Kolivan smirks lightly. There never was a solution when it came to interacting with the paladins. It’s good that the kits are learning such.
“Shiro wished to apologize to Keith. I believe him when he says that he didn’t try to hurt Keith.” Kolivan emphasizes the word he.
“That may be true, but he still should’ve defended Keith when the others were hurting him. He remains just as guilty.” Kolivan nods before gesturing to Antok and walking to the cockpit.
“Krolia, Antok and myself will fly us back. You assist in comforting Keith.” Krolia nods grimly before her facial features smooth out and she walks up to her twin kits.
By now, Keith’s sobs have calmed slightly, allowing him to form words. Stuttering words, but words nonetheless.
“I tried to stay calm, I really did. I just…..it all came back so suddenly….” Krolia shushes her youngest kit gently while running clawed hands through his hair, massaging his scalp.
“No one faults you for anything, kit. Your actions were justified and I won’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise.” Keith nods.
For the remainder of the trip, Keith’s sobs start to quiet and the other Blade members start to cool down a bit from the confrontation of the paladins.
“Kolivan! Come in! This is a matter of utmost importance! Kolivan, answer!” The leader in question pauses from where he’s practicing with Keith to answer his communicator.
“Yes, Antok, what is it?”
“Coran and Allura are calling! Something’s happened with the Black and Red lion!” Kolivan grumbles in annoyance before confirming that he’ll be there and looking at Keith.
“Were it just the princess and her helper calling, I’d say you and the other kits could stay here. However, since the lions are concerned, I must request that you three join us.” Keith bites his lip, but nods anyway.
Once a suspicious Regris and a frustrated Acxa are gather into the room, Kolivan opens the monitor and narrows his eyes at the princess.
“What is it? And please keep in mind, if it’s anything connected to what happened yesterday, then tell me now so I can excuse Keith and the other kits from the room.” Allura, for once, looks worried and shakes her head rapidly.
“No, no! I assure you, Kolivan, it’s something different. And much more…..well, Lance, Shiro, explain.” Shiro and Lance come to the screen at the princesses’ request.
“The Red Lion hasn’t been listening to Lance lately, which we all thought was due to the forced swaps. After yesterday though, Black also stopped listening to me.” Keith’s eyes widen while Kolivan ponders the situation.
“Has this happened before? The lions refusing to cooperate with their paladins?” Shiro and Lance invite Allura back onto the screen, who shakes her head.
“No, not that I know of. However, it’s affecting the rest of the lions as well and we can’t form Voltron.” Kolivan considers Allura’s words before tilting his head.
“I fail to see how this concerns the Blade. Are you not the expert when it comes to the lions?” Allura huff out before sighing and speaking carefully.
“The Red Lion first started acting up two days after Keith left. We think that if he shows her he’s not in danger, then she’ll cooperate more for Lance.” Keith looks to Kolivan, who’s expression shows just how unconvinced he is.
“Are the lions not able to mentally connect with their paladins? From what you’ve told us about the lions bond, the Red Lion should know that Keith’s not in that much danger.” Shiro clears his throat from where he’s standing behind Allura.
“I have a theory regarding that. You’re correct, Koliva, the lions do share a type of mental bond with us. There’s actually a chance that that’s what’s affecting her.” Keith shrinks in on himself on the look of pity that Shiro gives him.
‘I hate those looks.’ Acxa, seeing her twin’s distress, focuses away from the monitor and on squeezing his hand reassuringly.
“How so?” Shiro gestures for Allura to step aside on the screen so he’s now making up a majority of it.
“You mentioned that Keith had nightmares? Well, that indicates that he’s mentally distressed. Red must’ve picked up on that and is acting out because he’s not safe. At least, to her.” Kolivan, finally understanding what Shiro’s getting at, narrows his eyes and allow his ears to tilt back.
“So, what you’re suggesting is that we allow Keith to step foot into your castle and let the Red Lion see for herself that he’s fine?” Shiro shakes his head.
“If it were only that simple. Keith and Red still share a bond. They’ll need more than a minute with each other. Black’s also connected to Keith from when he took my place while I was missing.” Keith perks up at the mention of the Black Lion while Krolia too narrows her eyes and steps forward.
“Am I safe to assume that it would just be him and the lions? None of you paladins would be accompanying him?” The warning in Krolia’s tone makes Shiro flinch back. Surprising.
“It would be for the best. Having us with Keith could disrupt the process and probably aggravate the lions more.” Kolivan nods in hesitant approval before making one more thing clear.
“The only reason we’re allowing this is because the lions are crucial for the defeat of Zarkon. He will not be there to socialize or converse with you paladins.” To the common outsider, Kolivan’s statement would’ve been seen as controlling and harsh. To Keith, it was an assurance that the Blade wouldn’t let any of the paladins hurt him. Verbally or physically, as they have done before.
“That is not for you to decide.” And…..Allura’s back. There goes Keith’s feeling of calm and peaceful.
“You are the ones who asked for our assistance and you are the ones who are a threat to Keith. As his pack, it actually is our right. We’ll see you soon.” Regris steps forward and cuts the connection.
“I think you made her mad.” Regris’ tail swings a bit behind him, giving off his sense of amusement at the possibility.
“Maybe now she’ll actually learn how a pack works. And that her being a princess means nothing in that department.” Keith smiles gratefully at Regris.
“Thanks.” Regris smiles at the youngest kit.
Kolivan leads his team out of the room and onto a ship. Once again, Krolia and Antok venture to the cockpit to take flight while everyone else sits in the cabin, buckling their seat belts.
“Next stop: Castle of Lions.” Kolivan offers Keith a small smile before focusing forward, preparing himself for the meeting.
Arriving at the castle doesn't’ take as much time as Keith would have preferred. Before he knows it, the ship’s landing and he’s unbuckling his seat belt. About to meet the lion that he was forced to abandon.
“Thank you for coming despite the recent…..tension.” Keith almost smiles at Coran. He actually tried to stay out of the whole ‘bully Keith cause he’s galra’ situation. He still treated Keith like he was Keith and not galra and helped him heal from injuries. Battle and from what the team did to him.
“No need to thank us. Allura might say otherwise, but we actually care about what happens to the universe if Voltron isn’t here.” Keith covers his mouth to cover his smile. Acxa’s sass, even in this situation, tends to make him laugh all of the time.
“Noted. But, I still must thank you. I know how hard it must be for Keith to come back.” Acxa narrows her eyes.
“Don’t say that. You don’t know anything about what it’s like for Keith right now.” Keith grabs his twin’s hand and squeezes while Coran visibly withers at her statement.
“That’s true. I apologize for my insensitive words.” Keith throws Coran an apologetic look. He’s a neutral. He doesn’t deserve the harsh treatment that the Blades are giving him.
“I believe we should get to the lions hangar and allow Keith some time to bond with his lion.” Coran straightens up as Kolivan voices his thoughts before smiling encouragingly and nodding.
Walking down the halls, Keith starts to reminisce about his life here. Before and after the discovery. Before, it wasn’t perfect. He was labeled the loner and wasn’t exactly the most welcome in social situations, but with time, that was improving. However, after the discovery, that progress went to hell. So fast that Keith didn’t even have time to be upset or sad about it. Only scared.
“Aaaaaand…..we’re here!” Keith shakes his head and focuses forward.
Coran presses a button that prompts the door to open. The whirring sound it makes helps to soothe Keith’s anxiety a bit. Because there before him were the lions of Voltron. Only, they didn't look like they had before he fled. No, all of them now had their fields up. And look like they hadn’t been used in a while.
“When did all of them engage their fields?” Coran ushers the Blades forward as Keith questions out loud. Before he can answer, a sorrowful voice is heard from behind the group.
“Yesterday. After we got back from the Space Mall, we wanted to search a quadrant that last had signs of galra activity. When we tried to get the lions, all of them refused to activate. When we tried to figure out why, we were ejected out and they put their fields up. We’ve been trying to connect with them, but it hasn’t worked.” Taking a deep breath, Keith steels his expression before turning to face Pidge.
“And me connecting with Red and Black will hopefully fix that?” Pidge nods before rubbing their eyes. Like how one would wipe away tears.
“We hope. But then again, we’re not sure exactly why this happened in the first place.” Acxa grabs Keith’s shoulder and turns him away from the sniffling green paladin.
“Keith, focus.” Keith nods before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath.
As he lets it out, Kolivan gathers his Blade members and Pidge to escort them out of the room. This task is for Keith. He’s the only one who can accomplish it. And it’ll probably be easier to do by himself.
“Alright Red, I’m here.” Keith murmurs before waiting.
It takes a few moments, but after a while, a whirring sound interrupts the quiet of the room. Opening his eyes, Keith smiles widely when he sees the field guarding the Red Lion has come down.
“It’s been a while girl. Sorry I left you without notice.” A purring rumble reverberates throughout the room before Red leans her head down and opens her mouth, prompting Keith to enter.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Keith sprints inside. Once he’s safely seated in her cockpit, Red closes her mouth almost aggressively before standing up and walking around the room.
After going so long without her paladin, Red’s more than willing to let Keith pilot her around the room.
“It’s good to be back.” Keith settles down and sighs out in bliss when the purring rumble comes back. This time, accompanied by a gentle voice. One that reminds him of his own mother.
It’s good to have you back, my cub
Keith hums before bringing his knees up and holding them to his chest.
“How’s having Lance as a pilot been?” Keith chuckles when a low growling sound rumbles through the cockpit. So, not the best then.
He isn’t a terrible pilot. But he’s not my paladin.
Keith blushes when Red stresses on the word ‘mine’. During his bonding time with the Red Lion, he’s learned that she’s not only the most temperamental out of the lions, she’s also the most protective. Had he not begged her, she would have already ripped Allura and Lance to shreds for treating her paladin so harshly.
“Good to hear he has some form of approval. Otherwise I’d feel guilty for leaving you.” Keith muses on that thought for a brief moment before gasping as a whine like sound reaches his ears. Did Red really just……. whine? Not growl or purr, but whine?
You have no reason to feel guilty, my cub. They are the ones who drove you away. You acted out of fear and pain. Reasonable in my eyes.
Keith nods his head in understanding. It’s what Krolia, his twin, Regris, and pretty much all of the other Blade members tell him. It’s not his fault. He had a right to leave if he felt unsafe here.
“Thanks Red.” Red purrs as her paladin once again brings his knees up to his chest.
For about an hour, the two just sit in silence. Keith relishing the feel of connecting with Red again and Red finding comfort in having Keith with her, safe and sound. Unfortunately, before it can continue, Red remembers something pretty important. Or, more like Black growls at her to mention it.
Black wishes for me to share something with you. Regarding her and Shiro.
Keith’s eyes snap open and he sits up straight. “What is it? Is something wrong? Is Zarkon trying to bond with Black again?”
No, my cub. Do not fear for that, for it will to happen in the near future. Rather, Black wishes to apologize to you.
“Apologize? Black? Why?” Keith stands up and walks forward, urging Red to turn her head so he can see the Black Lion.
She feels guilty for not alerting Shiro immediately that you were being hurt by the other paladins. She feels that if she had, he would’ve defended you and you wouldn’t of needed to flee in fear of your safety.
Keith blushes before clearing his throat and speaking. It’s a bit loud since he’s hoping Black will hear him.
“Black, you have nothing to apologize for. It wasn’t your responsibility to watch out for me. Only I could. It’s my own fault.” Red growls at Keith’s accusation, but Keith can hardly pay much attention to it when a new voice enter his mind.
No, young cub. It’s not. As the head of Voltron, I am responsible for all of the other lions and their paladins.
“I would’ve protested Black, you know that.” Distinctly, Keith feels like he can hear Red laughing in his head. Agreeing with him 100%.
Maybe so. I just wanted you to know that I’m sorry you had to go through that alone. When I did have the opportunity to help you. You, out of everyone else here, didn’t deserve that.
Flattered at Black’s protectiveness, Keith smiles and easily forgives her. “I’m just glad I can see you guys again.” When a lion and paladin were separated, both were affected.
“So…..anything exciting happen while I was with the Blade?” Black turns her head to look at Red before responding.
I wouldn’t say this is exciting, but I was the only one between the paladins and certain death.
Keith doesn’t know whether to be amused or not. Actually, now may be an appropriate time to be both.
“Really Red?” Red growls.
I offer no apologies. What I would’ve done would’ve been nothing compared to what they did to you. I still question on why Black stopped me. I would’ve expected Blue or Yellow. Even Green.
Red, please, you know why.
Keith decides to stay out of the conversation. Best let the Lions handle their own business for now. Especially since this is the first time he’s hearing of it.
Yes, because Alfor’s daughter is still growing and learning how to be a better ruler and the others wanted to stay out of it because they didn’t want to make me more angry. I’ve heard it a million times Black.
Keith pretends he doesn’t hear the slight smug tone in Black’s voice before clearing his throat. “Red, speaking of the other lions, how are they doing? Did this….situation, drive you guys apart?”
Not really, my cub. Yes, the other lions wished to remain loyal to their paladins, but remember, we’re not just machines. We have our own thoughts and moral values. They tried not to get involved in fear of me lashing out. They understand that their paladins are in the wrong, but are still figuring out how to react without throwing the universe in jeopardy.
Keith nods in understanding. “Ok, fair enough. But about the universe being in jeopardy…...Red, you need to start cooperating with Lance again.” A long pause follows.
Very well, my cub. I will try. But no guarantees. He’s not my paladin. He only pilots me.
And remember, it’s also the bond of the paladins that’ll allow us to form Voltron. Because two of us don’t have our true paladins, that might pose as a problem.
“Keith thinks for a moment before sighing, ready to face one of his fears.
“I think I have an idea.”
With Kolivan and the others outside the room
“You think he’ll be ok on his own?” Kolivan nods at Krolia, bringing a hand up to rub at her shoulder gently.
“If he were truly on his own, then I’d worry. However, the Black and Red lion are in there with him. From what he’s told me about Red, she’ll make sure that no nightmares or self doubts can disturb them.” Though Kolivan does share Krolia’s worry.
Keith by himself didn’t alway end well. It usually ended with self destructive thoughts and him sobbing in the hallway or training grounds because he thought he was a monster. Or that he deserved all of the abuse he took from the paladins.
“You guys mentioned nightmares a lot in the past two days. Are those….god, this is going to sound so stupid but….are his nightmares of….us?” Kolivan looks down at the green paladin, deciding on whether or not she’s trustworthy enough with that personal information.
“It’s not for us to say.” Krolia, ever the protective mother, narrows her eyes.
Only, instead of Pidge backing off and letting the matter go, they gasp before narrowing their eyes and throwing their hands up.
“Oh my god, that’s it! I get it, ok? We get it, all of us get it…..we messed up, big time! Keith has no reason to forgive us! We get it! But how are we supposed to delivery a sincere apology when everytime a result of our…..treatment, is brought up, we get shunned?” Krolia stares at the green paladin in wonder. Did they really just ask that?
“All she said was that it wasn't for us to say. If you want to know so badly, or if you’re actually serious about the apology, then why don’t you go talk to Keith himself?” Acxa hisses at Pidge.
“Because! You guys are always with him! You always block our attempts to get near him! And whenever we try to apologize, you shoot us down and say that we don’t deserve to see Keith!” Acxa moves to strangle the small paladin, but her mother and Regris hold her back.
“Green paladin, have you ever considered why?” Tears are flowing down Pidge’s cheeks by now. As they bring up a hand to rub at their eyes, they nod, urging Ulaz to continue.
“Well, first of all, you only really tried to apologize yesterday when we all bumped into each other at the mall.” Pidge’s eyes, even though they’re crying, widen at that. That’s true.
“Second of all, you all looked usure or hostile, as if you were going to shame or guilt Keith into coming back. And finally, Keith himself was panicking. We weren’t going to make him confront you guys when he wasn’t ready.” Ulaz’s last words are spoken out in a growl. Though it’s more of a discouraged one than an angry one. The one that Pidge’s used to hearing.
“I-I ever thought of it like that.” Acxa rolls her eyes and voices her displeasure.
“Obviously. Otherwise, none of us would be in this problem and my twin wouldn’t be suffering. For someone who’s supposed to be the brains of Voltron, you really leave a lot of elements out of your ideas.” Now, Acxa’s no longer struggling to get her hand around Pidge’s neck. Instead, she has crossed her arms and cocked her hip out. Looking sassy, but also disappointed.
“Yeah, I can tell.” Pidge laughs dryly before wiping their eyes clean of tears and looking up.
Instead of the seeing seven angry, defensive galra standing in front of her, she sees seven mistrustful, worried galra standing in front of her. And now, she’s willing to admit to herself that this isn’t just a random group of galra. They’re pack, more specifically, Keith’s pack. And they’ve done a far better job at protecting and caring for Keith then the paladins had.
“Guys, I’m really sorry. Not only for judging and unfairly accusing you, but allowing myself to throw that at Keith. He was-is still one of my friends. And you were right, he wasn’t even born when Zarkon did what he did. He deserved none of our judgments and hate.” Pidge gives the Blade members before her a serious look before turning around and walking away, her arms crossed and her head down.
“Please, tell Keith I’m sorry. For everything. If there’s ever anything he needs from me, then I’ll drop everything else and get to him.” Pidge turns to look at the Blade group before exiting the room.
“That’s a promise. One that I’ll actually keep this time.” Kolivan regards Pidge with a stern look before breathing out when they’re out of the room.
“What do you think we should do?” Kolivan thinks for a moment before deciding on a course of action. The right course of action, moral wise.
“We will deliver Pidge’s message to Keith, as they have requested, and let our young kit decide what to do from there.” Krolia nods before focusing on the door leading into the Lion's Den (as Regris and Acxa call it).
Two hours pass before the door’s opening, Keith emerging out with a bright smile on his face and a blush covering his cheeks.
“How did the reunion go, my kit?” Keith jogs up to his mother before giving her a hug. Everyone suppresses a gasp of happiness. Keith is better with physical shows of affection, but still rarely initiates it.
“It went well. Black and Red were happy to see me again. And Black apologized for not telling Shiro, even though she didn’t have to.” Krolia smiles and hugs Keith back.
“That’s good to hear.” Kolivan watches the mother-son moment with a content smile while everyone else remains silent, dreading that if a word is spoken, it would rudely disturb the bond between parent and kit.
“Red promised that she’s going to try and listen to Lance better, but I couldn’t exactly get a guarantee, so that’s a thing.” A chorus of chuckles is heard throughout the group before Keith turns serious.
“Unfortunately, because of that, Voltron may still be down. So, I’ve come up with a different solution. One that you guys may not like.” Kolivan’s smile tilts down into a frown while Acxa comes forward to rest her hands on her twin’s shoulders.
“We’ll listen anyway. Just tell us first.” Keith takes a deep breath in before beginning his explanation.
“Is that really the only option we have?” Keith nods grimly. He doesn’t exactly like it either, but he doesn’t have a choice.
“Red and Blue are both missing their true paladins. And from what Black’s told me, that’ll continue to be a problem when forming Voltron.” Kolivan sighs. Again, is this the only option?
Like Keith, his mind’s being split into two. As a Blade member, it’s his duty to do what’s best for the undiverse. But as head of the Blade’s pack, it’s also his duty to insure the safety of its members.
“Guys, please. I know you’re worried about my safety and don’t trust Allura or the others, but this is a necessary. The universe needs Voltron.” Kolivan looks to Krolia before suggesting a compromise. One that even he doesn’t like.
“How about we agree to this, but one or two of us stay here with Keith?”
Keith smiles gratefully at Kolivan while the other Blade member exchange nervous glances. It’s not a bad idea, per say. But…..it’s not ideal.
“Very well. Since we have no choice. I nominate myself and my mother to stay.” Krolia nods at daughter.
“Agreed. But you guys should also do weekly check ins with us. Just in case.” Everyone, Keith included, nods with grim looks on their faces. The ‘just in case’ situation is left unspoken.
“Alright. Well, let’s find the princess and report this.” Keith gulps. Might as well get this over with.
When the Blade group reaches the control room, Allura and Shiro are arguing. Ok, maybe not arguing. More like Shiro’s yelling at her and she’s trying to stop herself from crying. What surprises Keith is how neither Lance nor Coran jump to the princess’ defense.
“This could've been solved weeks ago had you just stopped thinking about yourself and started actually caring about the rest of your team!” Keith cringes and leans into Acxa slightly, who holds him up right despite her own surprise at the volume that Shiro can yell at.
“Just because your planet was destroyed doesn’t mean you’re some innocent victim everytime we encounter galra! Or have you forgotten about Coran? From what I understand, he has just as much right to be upset. But did he react in such an inappropriate way? No! He was the actual adult in this situation!”
Regris winces and covers his ears, as do Krolia and various other members of the group. How is it possible that Shiro just got louder? Or was it just angrier? Hard to tell.
“Shiro, I understand that you’re upset.You have a right to be. However, I must insist that you lower your volume. It’s…..painful to listen to, at the moment.” Shiro whips his head to narrow his eyes at Kolivan before taking a deep breath and offering an apologetic look.
“Sorry.” Kolivan nods before fixing the princess with a smug look.
“I’m happy to report that Keith has been able to make contact with both the Red and the Black Lion. He has also been able to learn the root of the problem.” Keith blushes at the praise in Kolivan’s tone before shaking his head and glaring ahead at the paladins. Even at Shiro.
“Black told me that since two of the lions, Red and Blue, don’t have their true paladins, Voltron will continue to have problems forming.” Keith takes a deep breath. “So, I offered a solution. I will come back and stay in the castle to pilot Red while Lance pilots Blue again. Hopefully, that will fix the bond between the Yellow and Green lion as well.” Hunk and Pidge both look down at the mention of their own unsuccessful attempts to pilot their lions.
“Marvelous! You’re room has not been disturbed since you’re leave, so if you’d like, I can help you clean an-” Coran is interrupted by Acxa growling at him.
“But! He remains here under the condition that mother and I do as well. We do not trust any of you to know how to properly care for a traumatized, galra kit. Especially with a leader like the princess.” At that comment, Allura bursts out into tears. Lance makes a move to comfort her, but Coran holds up his hand.
“If those are the only conditions, then we will agree to them.” Kolivan nods at Coran before turning to Keith, Krolia, and Acxa.
“We will return to headquarters to gather your things and drop them off.” Keith nods.
Kolivan then does something that surprises all of the paladins: he holds his arms out. In response, Keith smiles and runs forward, sighing as Kolivan wraps his arms around the youngest kit. After a few moments, Kolivan lets go and smiles at Keith, before doing the same to Krolia and Acxa. The rest of the Blade members off the three departing pack members a hug or a pat on the shoulder. Regris going as far as to ruffle Keith’s hair.
“Just so you know, blue paladin, we happen to like his mullet. Gives us something to play with or massage through when we’re stressed.” Keith blushes and sneaks a quick glance at Lance, who’s looking down at the ground. First glance, he looks angry with his clenched fist, but if you focus on his face, then you can see lines of worry and guilt.
“Come along Regris, we must return to headquarters to gather and drop off Krolia’s and the kits things as well as plan our next mission. Krolia, Acxa, Keith, protect each other. And don’t be afraid to come back. You’ll always be welcome.” Nods are exchanged among the Blade members before Kolivan leads Antok, Ulaz, Thace, and Regris back to the ship.
“So…...now what?” Krolia turns to look at Hunk, who’s blushing in embarrassment at not knowing what to say.
“Now, Coran, I believe you said that my son’s room had not been disturbed?” Coran nods and walks forward.
“We’re here. Am I safe to assume that you and your daughter will want rooms close to Keith’s?” Krolia scans the hallway before eyeing Keith’s door.
“Acxa will take a room next to Keith’s. I will take a room across.” Acxa and Keith nod at their mother. Her formatting is so that they can protect each other and she can protect both of them if need to be.
“Of course. Would you require any bedding or is some being brought to you by the Blades?” Krolia answers that it’s the second option before narrowing her eyes at the older Altean.
“While I’m thankful that you’re not blind, I’m curious on why you’re not siding with the princess of this matter.” Coran brings a hand up to twist his mustache before letting it snap back into place.
“I promised King Alfor I’d protect her. That doesn’t just mean making sure she’s away from danger, that also means making sure she grows to be a god ruler. If she stays on the path she is now, she’ll grow to make many enemies because of her prejudices. A good protector shields their ward from danger, not the real world.” Krolia takes in the explanation offered and nods. She holds out her hand as a gesture of peace.
“Then perhaps there is one person on this ship that the Blade can rely on.” Coran’s eyes widen before he smiles and shakes Krolia’s hand in an excited manner.
“I’m honored! Now, as much as I’d like to remain here and chat, I must prepare for your incoming supplies that will be dropped off. Trust me, you’ll want to be spared from making several trips back and forth between the ship and your rooms.” Krolia nods in approval before allowing Coran to take his leave.
Turning to her kits, she takes a deep breath before smiling encouragingly.
“If it’s alright with you two, I think I’m going to go to the control room and speak with the paladins.” Keith looks down, but nods while Acxa just offers a grunt of confirmation in reply.
“Excellent. Meanwhile, why don’t you two go train?” Keith looks up at that. Something that has Krolia smirkin in amusement and Acxa smirking challengingly.
“6 rounds, winner has to clean the others weapons for a phoeb?” Keith smirks back before hugging his mother and dashing out of the hallway, dragging Acxa along with him.
“Kits. So energetic.” Krolia muses to herself before dropping her smile and walking back to the control room. When she finds no one there, she relocates to the luge area. Bingo.
“Paladins, I believe it is time we addressed what happened between my son and yourselves.” Shiro looks up from where he’s sitting and nods with a neutral face. Kroli can try to trust that he won’t lose his temper during this conversation.
“What’s there to address? We messed up and now we’re facing the consequences. There’s not much more to it.” Krolia rolls her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose while Shiro glares at Lance. For once, the blue paladin doesn’t shrink back or start apologizing over his word choice. Instead, he slumps further into the couch with a defeated look on his face.
“What? It’s true.” Pidge smacks Lance’s knee before standing up and walking towards Krolia.
“While I do agree with Lance on some level, I’m interested in what you have to say on the matter.” Krolia thinks she might learn to respect the green paladin. They’re fairly mature for someone their age.
“I know that you have all recognized that your actions against my son were inappropriate.” Allura looks away from Krola, sniffling a bit in an attempt not to start crying. “However, none of you have made a move to fix it besides yesterday. And even though, a majority of you looked hostile. I already know what Pidge’s thought process was. I’d like to know what yours were.”
Everyone, even Allura, looks to each other before Shiro stands up to go first.
“I know you may think I’m lying, but honestly, I never made attempt to contact Keith because Black. Whenever I checked in with her about how Keith was, she’d growl at me or shut down completely. But she wasn’t angry. More like, defensive. I thought that that was her way of saying that I shouldn’t bother Keith.” Krolia stares at Shiro before deciding that he’s telling the trust. Keith mentioned that Black felt guilty about not getting involved, so it makes sense that she’d be protective over her kit once he was gone.
“I was so focused on how Keith’s reveal affected lance and Pidge that I forgot that Keith himself had feelings on the matter as well. I know, I know, I was biased and a jerk for being biased, but it’s the truth. Like i said, I’m sorry. I’m meant to be the leg of Voltron, but I’ve only ever lifted ⅘ of the team.” Krolia doesn’t even need to question on whether Hunk’s telling the truth. The fact that his friendship and biased was identified as the root of the problem sounded truth enough.
“I already know that you were just being mistrustful and judgmental, so don’t even say anything.” Allura nods before looking down at her lap, allowing a few tears to fall.
“It was my duty to look after all of my paladins, no matter what. To trust the lions that they wouldn’t choose the wrong pilots. I have failed.” Kroli pretends not to hear that. She’s not done with being furious.
“Lance? Aren’t you going to say something buddy?” Krolia regards the blue paladin with a cool stare. She already knows about the whole rivalry thing he had with her son, so she wasn’t too surprised when she heard from Keith that Lance was one of the worst.
“Am I safe to assume that your abuse originated from your hate filled rivalry you already had with my son?” Lance’s head snaps up so fast that Krolia takes a step back.
“What? No! I never hated Keith! I just….it was supposed to be a playful thing, you know?” Krolia’s glare is all Lace needs for an answer.
“Ok, evermind. The point is, I never hated him. When he turned out to be galry, the rivalry thing didn’t even come to mind. No, it was his attitude. Keith always kept to himself and never really shared anything with us. So when Allura accused him of being a spy or something, it just….made sense.” Silence takes over the room before Shiro marches over to Lance.
“You want to know the reason why Keith never socialized or shared anything? Because you all scared him! You made making friends and having a family so easy while for him, all of his life, people have abandoned him.” Lance gasps and covers is mouth while Pidge turns to sob into Hunk. The cat’s just been let out of the bag. Or, more like violently thrown out of the bag.
“What?!” Everyone’s eyes look to Allura, who’s crying so much that tears have dropped onto her clothes.
“How could I have been so blind? How could I have let this happen?” Krolia takes this as her que to leave.
“Perhaps you should be the one t answer these questions, Shiro. Something tells me you’ll know better what should or shouldn’t be said.” As Krolia walks towards the door, the paladins start shouting after her. Begging her to tell Keith that their sorry, that they’ll do better.
When she’s about to exit, she turns to glare over her shoulder. “I don’t care. You’ve made your beds, now lay in them.” With that said, he exits the room and walks to join her kits in the training room, unaware of the fight that’s just broken out among Shiro and the rest of the Paladins.