Author's Note: I seriously need another fandom like I need a hole in my head. Yet here I am. I am holding Thir13enth completely (and personally) responsible for this. She knows what she did.

I don't typically employ a beta reader so please forgive my offensive grammar and typos.

He waits until they are alone. Of course, Coran will have his own reprimands for the princess but Shiro wants her full attention. So he waits.

When he finally catches Allura on her own, it is unexpected and unplanned. Her fingers lightly trace the glowing rim of the holographic projector and for an instant he almost retreats. Almost.

"Are you going to explain to me what happened back there?" he asks with forced authority.

"Do you mean the part where you lost Sendak for us? Or the part where I saved your skin from Haggar? Be more specific, please, Shiro." She stands and is suddenly every bit the regal princess. Shiro scrapes himself together and arms himself with his years of experience and rank.

"I mean the part where you decided – without consulting anyone – that your life was worth less than mine. You took advantage of your size and strength and forced me into the escape hatch." Shiro's hands curl into knots. "Why?"

Allura scowls. "How dare –"

"It's me who should be asking you that." Her mouth falls open but he advances anyway. "You said yourself Voltron is your father's legacy. Voltron is Altean technology that we are still learning the limits of and you were ready to just –"

"Save your life!" she interrupts. "We're all here, aren't we?"

"That's not how a team should operate! Do you honestly think we could do any of this without you?" Shiro's skin begins to vibrate. In the face of so much loss he cannot understand this woman. She stares at him and he stares right back. "What do you think would be done to you if captured?"

"I'd be executed." she huffs.

"Just executed?" He waves his Galran arm for emphasis. "I know you heard what Haggar said to me."

"That was after." Allura reminds him.

Shiro inhales deeply through his nose. Clearly brute verbal force is not the way to handle Allura. He digs deeper into his training and changes tack.

"I should not have lost my temper with Sendak. It was foolish."

Allura blinks in surprise. She twists her fingers uncomfortably and purses her lips. Finally, she folds her hands in front of her and her face smooths.

"It was impulsive and irresponsible of me to push you into the escape hatch," she says placidly. "But I won't apologize as the end result was favorable."

Shiro's mouth twists into a smirk. It was a good start.

Every day – sometimes more than once – Shiro checks himself in front of her. If they are to be a stronger, more formidable team, there must be understanding.

"I should not have been so callous with all of you in the beginning," Allura says to him in passing. "We're all... coping."

The lists begin with Allura. She hasn't written anything down – not that Shiro could've read her words anyway – but he suspects she's constructed an outline in her head.

"I'm stuck," she says to him. "I went to sleep in one world and woke up in another only to find the circumstances exactly the same."

Shiro only nods. Allura fidgets beside him. He isn't quite used to this kind of intimacy. He's heard Pidge's confessions but it isn't the same. Not at all. Allura isn't his subordinate nor someone he views with a protective familial lens. She doesn't speak again and he waits until he can breathe.

"I don't remember anything about being a gladiator," he whispers. "And sometimes I don't want to."

"I'm afraid of becoming my father," she whispers into the soft green glow. They are in the projection room again. Shiro suspects she comes here to be closer to what was taken from her. "He forced me into stasis and never asked me if that's what I wanted."

Allura laughs and the sound rents the quietude. Even in the low light he can see her teetering on the edge of composure.

"If I were able to ask him why he did it, do you know what he would say?" Shiro knows the question is rhetorical. His eyes fight to focus on her profile. "He would say, I won't apologize because the end result is favorable."

"I don't think it's the same," he says, knowing it's not quite enough. Once the words are out he realizes he's done more harm than good. Of course it wasn't the same. Losing Allura would be infinitely worse. "I'm sorry. It was wrong of me –"

"You're right, though."

She touches him first. It isn't quite on purpose, but not quite on accident. Her arm brushes his as she joins him on the false edge of a rock under a false sky. The only thing that's real is the sound of her sigh and the press of her cheek against his shoulder.

His instinct is to shrink away but it has been quite a long time since Shiro has been against anything so soft. And he cannot bring himself to move away.