So I fell in the Voltron pit. Finished season 1 last night. Shiro and Pidge's relationship is my absolute favorite. Haven't really gone over this for errors so if there are some sorry. Just typed it up real fast to get the image from the last scene out of my head.
"Ow, hey! Shiro, you're supposed to be covering my back!" Lance spun around, rubbing at the sore spot on his head, ready to continue yelling at their black paladin for letting his shield down.
"Sorry Lance, my arm just went completely numb-" Shiro's was bent over trying to swap his shield from his limp prosthetic when eyes went wide and he dove to the left, rolling to avoid another stun blast as Keith threw out a hand to stop the training simulation. Shiro huffed a breath of relief and slumped against a low silver wall they were supposed to be using as cover while his holo shield deactivated.
"Wait, your arm went numb?" Lance asked, glancing warily at Shiro's prosthetic as he rubbed at the joint where it met his flesh and grimaced. "Like, your arm-" he pointed at his forearm "or your arm," he pointed at his shoulder.
"The prosthetic. Normally I can feel with it, use it almost like the flesh limb I lost—but half way through the simulation it went numb and now it isn't responding to my-" his wrist twitched and blue light shot through the circuits, causing the hand to light up briefly and go dead again. "Signals." He frowned at it, the expression softening into something that was a little worried. "Sorry guys, we better call it a day. I have to get this figured out before it does this in a real battle and someone gets hurt."
"I got hurt, but you know, I'm a Paladin so I'll bear it bravely," Lance said, raising his hand and pointing at his head.
Shiro got to his feet, the prosthetic surging weak pulses of purple energy.
"Maybe you forgot to charge it?" Hunk suggested, he and Pidge following their leader out of the training room and down the hall as he headed for the main deck.
"I've never had to charge it," Shiro said, examining the prosthetic as he walked. That concerned line was still marking between his eyebrows and neither Pidge or Hunk liked it. "I assumed it was fit with some kind of renewable energy source—trouble is I don't know if I need to go to the workshop or the infirmary to deal with this." He winced and rubbed at his shoulder again, his breathing catching as a spike of pain went through it.
Pidge frowned. "It's hurting you?" She took hold of his wrist and they stopped walking for a moment as she put one hand on his elbow and the other on his shoulder, manipulating the prosthetic and his arm to get a feel for where the problem was. The prosthetic was uncharacteristically cool to the touch and his shoulder felt almost too warm. Or maybe that was her imagination.
"A little, right around where it's attached," he said, letting his muscles slack so Pidge could inspect. "I've never had any pain or trouble with it—maybe it was damaged in our last fight."
"You did hit the ground really hard," Pidge said, letting him have his arm back and adjusting her glasses as she thought. "How about you go to the infirmary where we can do a scan, and I'll bring the workshop to you. If the pain is localized it could be a connection issue, which means I should be able to help with the mechanical part and Allura can use our infirmary tech to make sure the rest of your arm is okay."
In the infirmary Shiro sat patiently on a table while Allura passed a hand held scanner over his arm, shoulder, and part of his chest and back. She plugged the device into the main console and crossed her arms as she read the loading data. Pidge busied herself putting sensors the length of Shiro's prosthetic, looking at the feed on her screen. Or rather, the lack of one.
"Okay well I've identified the problem on my end—your arm isn't getting enough power. I get a weak surge through random circuits once in a while, but it's not nearly enough to put the whole thing online and have it responsive to your nervous system's commands. If I could get it powered up long enough to run a diagnostic I could probably reverse engineer how its power works and help you fix it, but the surges are too sporadic."
"Perhaps then that's where I can help," Allura said, pointing at the screen she had floating in front of her. Pidge's glasses reflected the light as she looked up and Shiro twisted around so he could see too. Allura had a full render of Shiro's arm in holographic 3D up on the screen, and she was turning it to zoom in where it connected prosthetic to flesh.
"I did a scan of Shiro's shoulder, upper arm, and chest to see what structures are affected since the pain is localized," she explained, pointing to the diagram as she went. This is Shiro's nervous system in that part of his body-" she highlighted it in blue "and this is the main branch of blood vessels and the large artery that runs from his heart into his remaining arm." She highlighted with red.
"These points-" a spray of purple lit up the screen "are where the tech interfaces with his body to make the arm operate smoothly. The nerve sensors are, of course, so he can use the prosthetic with mental commands like he does the rest of his body. Standard for most prosthetics. But this is where it changes. I took care to go as far down his prosthetic as I could without getting in the way of your equipment, Pidge, and this is the inside of his mechanical arm at the very base, near the synthetic bicep."
She pinched the image and spread her arms to widen it, tapping at a lump of irregular looking material dead center. "This is a power crystal, the same kind we harvested from the bulmera—only modified to to be compatible with Galra tech. It's not large enough to power the arm indefinitely without some kind of recharge, and since Shiro has never had to do anything to re-charge it I followed these wires to their source." She widened the image, turning with her hands on her hips. "Pidge, what do you see?"
Pidge glanced at Shiro, but he was at a loss and so shrugged. "All right." Pidge adjusted her glasses and studied the image for several long moments before her eyebrows shot up. "Ohhhhh."
"What?" Shiro asked, trying not to let his discomfort show too much. The pain was mild. It was being reminded that he had a piece of enemy technology embedded into his body that he didn't understand that was bothering him.
"Well for starters the crystal is misaligned," Pidge said, turning the image and tracing where it should be. "That's caused a short which is why we are getting flickers of power. Must have happened when you hit the ground. It had to be a serious jar to knock it out. We will have to click the crystal back into place and then I can open the arm and make sure everything is good from there."
"As for the recharge—I've only ever seen crystals in a system like this charged by some kind of engine. Your arm doesn't have an engine—but you do." She pointed at the bundle of red on the scan in the middle of Shiro's chest. "Your heart is a powerful liquid-moving engine, and the recharge system works like a water turbine. Look-" she highlighted several ridged structures in green. "They branch into the artery and harvest the natural energy that blood turbulence creates."
She turned back to Shiro. "You said the pain was here?" she asked, touching his arm gently. He nodded. "That makes sense. If you compare the scan with real life, the miniature turbines should be right..." she traced along the artery and stopped. "Here." she tapped. "There are others too, but basically the crystal has been harvesting power off of your heartbeat."
"The pain is probably from the misalignment. I don't see any damage to your circulation or the arteries, so it's a combination of reverse feedback from the energy crystal and general discomfort. It's overheating because the harvested energy isn't getting to the storage unit," Allura explained.
"Okay, so you can open the arm up and fix it?" Shiro asked, glancing from the scan to his makeshift team of doctors.
"That's where it gets tricky—we're going to need to work together," Pidge said, flipping her computer around. "This is where the prosthetic is bio sealed because it's directly in contact with the flesh part of your arm. Below that I can open and attach wires and work on anything. Above that—you need a surgeon."
"And the crystal is above the layer. Of course."
"Because of the way it's charged, it has to be."
"It shouldn't take much to manipulate it back into place-" Allura said, walking over and gently turning Shiro's arm so she could see better. "If the crystal is right here-" she touched the prosthetic "then it's a short trip with a catheter. Pidge, if you operate the real time scan and help advise, I can put a cardiac catheter in Shiro's shoulder, up here," she tapped by Shiro's collarbone. "Then I just follow the artery, slip it past the turbine, and nudge the crystal back where it needs to be."
"Shiro, are you okay with all this?" Pidge asked, reading the concern on his face and worried maybe they were being insensitive. She'd never seen Shiro uncomfortable about his prosthetic, but maybe he was just good at hiding it.
"Yeah, that's fine. Just sounds a little, outdated. I know I sound about ten when I ask this but I'm not going to have to be put under for this, am I?"
"No. There will be a small incision in your shoulder so I can pass this into the artery." Allura held up a thin wire. "From there I'm not going to be touching or damaging anything alive, so there won't be any pain. You'll just lay quietly and keep breathing. This is a delicate enough procedure that I could pass the wire right into your heart while it's beating and it wouldn't hurt."
"All right, well, let's get me back online. Can't have the black paladin as the weak link, can we?" he gave an unconvincing smile and Pidge put her hand on his living arm.
"You're never the weak link, Shiro. We all need help sometimes."
The procedure didn't take long. Shiro removed his shirt with some help since his arm was still dead, and Pidge re-hooked her sensors. Allura put up a sterilizing field and in moments the wire was in and settled. Allura studied the monitor as she hooked the wire carefully around the edge of the crystal. "All right Pidge, I'm in place. Tell me when we're live."
Pidge gave a thumbs up and winked at Shiro, who was watching her instead of the monitor. He didn't enjoy feeling like a lab rat again, even though this was a very different kind of situation. It just kept taking him back to half suppressed memories of having the arm attached. Pidge's lighthearted enthusiasm helped more than she could realize.
"Just a little further," Pidge encouraged, one hand on her keyboard and the other resting on Shiro's flesh arm. She wasn't looking at him but the touch grounded him and his heart rate calmed as he relaxed muscles he wasn't consciously straining. Pidge rubbed her thumb against his arm and she smiled without looking at him.
Shiro closed his eyes and let a long breath out through his lips, trying to ignore the strange pressure in his shoulder.
"Aaaaaand we are live! Nice work Allura, I can take it from here. Just close him up and I'll work on diagnostics and re-calibrating his arm while he eats, I'm sure he could use the down time."
Shiro opened his eyes and sat up as soon as Allura had the wire out of him and the incision closed. He watched Pidge pack up her equipment with a fond smile. He knew doing the extra work was something Pidge could do anywhere—she was getting him out of the infirmary solely for his comfort.
In the mess hall, Pidge handed Shiro a bowl of goop and then they went to his quarters so he could lay propped up while she worked on his arm. It took a little coordinating, but eventually they got settled so that Shiro was laying on the bed, sitting up at an incline against the pillows while his food was balanced on his left thigh. Pidge was tucked against his right side, using his ribs as a backrest while his arm was laying in her lap. Her diagnostic computer was on the bed to Pidge's left and Shiro ate carefully while Pidge worked, trying not to move his arm too much.
"Okay, flex your thumb," Pidge said, and Shiro obeyed. She mapped the impulse Shiro's brain had sent for the command and re-calibrated the prosthetic until it was back up to speed. She'd been doing this for nearly twenty minutes. "How's that feel?"
"Better. Doesn't feel like dead metal anymore. Thank you, Pidge."
"Of course." There was a beat of silence while Shiro ate and Pidge worked, her back warm against his side, his breathing and the faint echo of his heartbeat a relaxing rhythm at her back. An organic machine, that's what their bodies were. Thinking about it like that helped her feel more in control, because if she was being honest Shiro injured at all scared her.
"I meant what I said by the way," she said, turning his hand over and working on the next set of calibrations for his pointer finger. "About you not being the weak link. Everybody has some kind of weakness, but it doesn't make you weak. Especially not you, Shiro."
He looked at her, setting his spoon down in the bowl and trying to think of what to say. He couldn't for a long time. "Doesn't always feel that way, Pidge," he said softly.
"I know your time with the Galra still haunts you. And this arm probably reminds you of that—but this isn't you. This is a tool you can use against them and for your own advantage. Like my glasses, but way cooler." Sparks came up from his palm as she soldered a wire and she glanced over her shoulder at him, giving him a small smile. "My weak link is wanting to find my family. Lance is insecure, Hunk sometimes lets his fear get the better of him and Kieth doesn't sway his opinions easily. Sometimes that makes him abrasive to the rest of us—but that hasn't stopped us from being a great team. Hunk is no less of an engineer, Lance is learning to be a better pilot and Kieth still managed to get past his anger and apologize to me when I almost left the team because of my weak spot. But none of us are a weak link. It's just like the exercise we were doing when your arm went dead, that's all. We all have soft spots and as long as we shield each other we will be okay. That's why Voltron needs five paladins. If one person could do all this themselves teams wouldn't have to exist."
Shiro felt a warm swell in his chest and he relaxed the last bit of tension he'd been carrying. "You're right. Thank you Pidge." There was a small lump in his throat and the thanks didn't cover what he was feeling but she didn't seem to mind. She only nodded once and kept working on his arm.
"Any time. Flex your fingers all at once for me?"