The surface of the planet was green .
So vibrantly green and lush and covered with thick jungle that Shiro could hardly believe that they found somewhere to land the Castle.
The local population was more than happy to receive the Paladins of Voltron and their Blade of Marmora ally, welcoming them to take part in the spring ceremonies as honored guests. It was a nice break for Shiro to see his team relaxing, letting the locals drape them in garlands of strange flowers and taking the sweet fruits that were passed out in welcome.
Sendak, their Blade liaison for the mission, looked like he’d swallowed a lemon as a local started towards him with flowers. Shiro was prepared to intervene on the small alien’s behalf if things went awry, but to his surprise Sendak allowed them to start braiding flowers into his mane.
It made Shiro smile, to see Sendak let his guard down a little bit. Sendak had been on a few missions with them now, but Shiro hadn't seen him so relaxed in all the time he’d known him.
The former Commander had been rescued by the Blades when his cryopod was floating in space and defected to their cause after Kolivan had sat down with him. Keith didn’t give them many details, only that Sendak had gone through the trials and passed them after his discussion with Kolivan.
Allura had begrudgingly accepted it, but refused to have him on her ship alone for a time, as the attack on the Castle had been traumatic for everyone, and Kolivan respected her wishes and didn’t assign Sendak to the Paladins for a few months.
Even after a few months to cool down it had taken some growing and learning - and a few rounds of intense sparring to let out pent up aggression - for the Paladins and Sendak to be cordial with each other.
Shiro grew to appreciate Sendak’s company. He was quiet and intense in meetings and in the field, but Shiro had discovered a softer side under the hard exterior. His room on the Castle was full of small trinkets he’d collected over the years, and no shortage of hand woven decorations; mats and blankets and wall decorations. It still surprised Shiro to no end, that Sendak’s massive hands could create such delicate items out of fragile thread.
At the thought of Sendak’s hands - his massive, dexterous hands - Shiro felt his face flush and a little bit of heat start under his collar. The crush that Shiro had on Sendak was a terribly kept secret among the Paladins, and he flushed a deeper red when he saw Keith looking at him and giving a knowing smirk.
He’d thought about revealing his feelings to Sendak multiple times, but always got cold feet at the thought of expressing himself. How could he tell Sendak that he thought - often - about being pinned beneath the galra against a multitude of surfaces, up to and including: his bed, a wall, the control console of the Black Lion, and their conference table in the Castle.
A local placing a carefully crafted flower crown onto his head brought him back to the present and he smiled as he inhaled the sweet fragrance. It reminded him of honeysuckle and jasmine and instantly made him smile as he took it in.
The alien in front of him gave a series of excited clicks and whistles that he couldn’t understand before the translator in his suit analyzed it.
“You’ve been given the Aaret flower. A completely unique scent to every person who experiences it, and smells the sweetest to those who are in love!”
The word love made Shiro feel cold and hot all at once as he snuck another look at Sendak. Love? Did he … love Sendak?
Shiro liked lots of things about Sendak, he could admit that without an issue. He liked the way Sendak spoke, fierce and with purpose - unafraid of what others thought about him. He definitely liked the way he looked; nearly seven feet of pure muscle and gorgeous fur. The soft smiles that Sendak would wear when he thought no one was looking, usually when Lance cracked a joke that no one else would laugh at.
Looking over he could see Sendak peeling a fruit that had been offered to him by one of the surrounding crowd, a gentle smile on his face as he bit into the pale blue flesh.
He looked back at the local in front of him, their antennae twitching excitedly as they saw where his gaze went after the explanation.
“Our spring festival is one of love and light, the perfect moment for telling the person you care about how you feel. You should let him know!”
He felt his face grow hot and looked over at Sendak again, faltering when he saw the galra gazing back at him. Shiro froze, turning away quickly and making his way over to a stall that was handing out some sort of flaky pastry filled with fruit.
Shiro grabbed a few and made his way off the main street, ducking into a side alley to get away from the feel of eyes on his back. His survival skills had heightened significantly from his time in the arena and he could tell he was being followed, though he didn’t feel any danger.
He took a deep breath and kept on his path. After a few minutes the alley opened up to a small courtyard with an intricate fountain in the center. Small paper lanterns gave the entire space a soft glow as he stood in front of the gently falling water. His pursuer came to stand slightly behind him on the left, the sound of his footfalls muffled by the soft boots he wore.
Even without looking he knew it was Sendak.
Shiro could feel the heat radiating off him. He could smell the spicy aroma he gave off, either cologne or a natural musk but Shiro didn’t know. Felt the soft breath at the back of his neck, sending tingles down his spine.
The light touch of fingers on his shoulder finally made him turn, taking in the intense look on Sendak’s face. He searched Sendak’s eyes, willing him to make a move; any move.
“ Exina flowers.”
He felt himself make a face in confusion at Sendak’s words. The galra smiled, reaching up to brush his fingers against the flower crown still affixed to Shiro’s head.
“They are a rare breed. Very difficult to cultivate, and with a very short blooming season. Galra would trek lightyears to see them. They’re also completely extinct, which is why I was surprised to smell them coming from you.”
Shiro felt his mouth go dry, the weight and meaning of those words heavy on his mind as Sendak continued, looking slightly sheepish. It was a strange look to see on him, but Shiro couldn’t deny that he enjoyed seeing a faint rise of blue on the galra’s face.
“Shiro, I never expected this when I joined the Blades. I never expected to even see you again, let alone work with the Paladins or …”
He paused, looking directly at Shiro instead at the flowers.
“I never expected you , Shiro.”
Shiro smiled, one hand reaching up to tangle in the fluff of fur on Sendak’s neck. He could feel a deep rumble in the galra’s chest and from what he knew of them, he could tell it was a good sound.
They smiled at each other, and Sendak leaned down to press their foreheads together. He rubbed his nose against Shiro’s and the different scents of the Aaret flower surrounded them as they held each other.