It started with Hunk. Sweet, loyal, dependable Hunk who could bake a mean Altean crèmbule in just a little under forty-two hundred ticks and take apart and put back together a thermal bi-compressor in even less.
It started with Hunk, who liked to talk to his lion as he carefully replaced worn parts.
It started with Hunk, who, as he pondered over two halves of odd-looking machinery, jumped when a voice in his head rumbled, It's called a Mentaton Thalternator. When he ceased flailing and realized that the voice in his head was in fact coming from the robot beside him, Hunk's grin nearly split his face in two.
It started with Hunk, but it certainly didn't end with him.
To everyone's surprise, Keith was next. Well, to everyone's surprise excepting Allura. The Red Lion may be temperamental and slow to trust, but when that trust was earned it's loyalty was unwavering. When Keith came running into the command deck, she congratulated him with the others, but also silently wondered why the Lion hadn't decided sooner.
Keith had noticed a slow rumble in the back of his brain, a slight pressure where there should be none. The Gladiator almost sliced him a new pair before he started out of his shock. As he hastily deactivated the drone the rumble increased to a low chuffing, gravely and filled with amusement.
Keith huffed out a sigh with equal parts awe and exasperation. His lion was laughing at his expense. Of course it was.
Pidge and Lance had their moments at the exact same time, in the exact same place, under the exact same set of circumstances.
"You can't be serious."
Pidge's eyes bulged behind her glasses, mop of hair eschew and trademark t-shirt rumpled.
"Did that really just happen?"
Lance was equally disheveled, jacket inside out and sporting only one shoe. Their lions sat opposite, paladin staring at lion and vise versa. Metal hides were scratched and muddied, dripping onto the pristine hangar floor. A ghost of conversation ran between each pair, mischief tickling the edges of their subconsciousnesses.
Lance and Pidge grinned, sharing equal looks of triumph and scheming.
For Shiro, however, things didn't happen so suddenly. When asked to pinpoint the moment it all started, he would just shrug and say, "I don't really know, to be honest." And it was the truth.
He doesn't remember when he first started feeling the presence in the back of his mind. He became most aware of it during his patrols at the darkest hours of the night, when he was most exhausted and worn. It lingered until he finally lay down, and as his eyes close he would feel a sense of protection billow behind his eyelids.
As his nights grew longer and his dreams grew darker the presence only grew, until it was a constant security watching over him. When he thrashed awake or stared into nothing it was there, rumbling and soothing until his breathing eased. He doesn't remember the first words it spoke to him. All he knows is a voice like distant thunder gently seeing him off to sleep. Eventually, and he doesn't remember when this happened either, they started holding silent conversations.
It was a quiet puzzle he didn't know needed solving.
The pieces didn't click together until the day when Pidge and Lance burst into the kitchen, yelling excitedly. Poor Hunk startled and almost dropped his mixing bowl. Lance started rambling, Hunk started flailing, Pidge started bouncing, Keith rolled his eyes, and Shiro blinked and said, "Huh."
When asked if he could pinpoint the first moment Black spoke to him, he would shrug nonchalantly and say, "I dunno. She's always kind of been there."