A/N: Beware Season Two spoilers below.
So yeah, I wasn't sure how long it was gonna take me to absorb the new season and start formulating plots based on the new information. Turned out it was about a day. I woke up Sunday morning with this story in my head. A lot of it was inspired by an amazing collection of art by cosumosu on tumblr, if you want something specific to blame. Also apparently I am not done writing Lance with hypothermia. The irony just...does something for me.
I don't know how many chapters this will be. I expect it to be relatively short, but I've been wrong before. (So, so wrong.) Anyway, you're getting two right away, isn't that nifty?
"Blue? Can you hear me? Blue?"
Lance was panting. He stood in the corner of the cell, reaching out with his hands pressed on both walls. He could only do it for a few seconds; the ice was so cold that it quickly began to bite into his skin. He pulled his hands back and tucked them under his armpits, fighting down a shiver, and stared glassily at the blue-white walls that surrounded him.
At first he had shouted. When they shut him in here, he'd been raging, ranting about how this was a mistake, he hadn't meant to do it, and anyway it was a stupid rule, he hadn't done anything wrong, so what if he'd touched their dumb high priestess, it was an accident. He hadn't meant to disrespect their traditions. He hadn't meant to commit a crime.
He hadn't even been hitting on her. Well, barely. He had complimented her. Lance complimented every lady he met. But she was older, closer to his mom's age than Allura's. Not that that meant anything to Lance, of course. Age was no object to beauty, and beauty came from within. But he'd kept in mind Shiro's warnings before they came down to the planet about how he should reel in his more annoying tendencies, and Lance had tried. He had.
What had he even said? Lance began to pace the cell again. He rubbed his hands up and down his arms and shook his head. It was hard to focus. What was it? Something about how she was lovely, a paragon of virtue and beauty. He had bowed to her, reached out...
And his hand had barely brushed her skin before two guards suddenly bull-rushed him and knocked him clean over. Lance landed on the floor, stunned and winded, and couldn't react as they dragged him to his feet and hauled him away. At first he struggled, trying to wrench back, yelling over his shoulder at his teammates still in the entrance hall where they'd been meeting the planetary leaders. Shiro had looked shocked and embarrassed, and Allura was talking rapid-fire to the priestess, her body language wincing and apologetic. Lance couldn't even see the others as they rounded a corner and his last glimpse of the entrance hall was cut off.
Eventually one of the guards had tired of his continued shouting and swiped him across the face so hard he saw stars. Lance shut up. The guard told him gruffly that he had committed the high crime of sullying the priestess with his touch and must now be punished. Once Lance regained some equilibrium, he protested, loudly. But they locked him in this cell without another word and left him here to shout.
After a while, he'd given up on trying to convince the Ustarese that it was wrong to put him in here and started yelling for Shiro and Allura instead. Surely they knew this had been mistake. He wasn't supposed to be here. He was a paladin of Voltron. He was important. He had a job to do. He was supposed to be out there fighting, not locked in an ice cell for some stupid trangression he didn't even understand.
He paced harder, stomping his feet into the ice. The paladins hadn't worn their armor for this trip. It was supposed to be just a meet-and-greet, with the potential for creating an alliance later. Lance wracked his brain, trying to remember everything he'd learned in the briefings before they came planetside. He paid attention to those. Well, usually. Maybe his mind had wandered a little. But he knew it was important. Allura always made that really clear. If someone had mentioned a rule about not touching the priestess, surely he would have remembered.
Or maybe not. Maybe he had zoned out for that part. Lance blew out a miserable breath and rubbed his arms. The cold was starting to ache in his bones.
Or maybe things had changed in the last ten thousand years. It wouldn't be the first time that Allura and Coran's outdated information about the universe ended up causing problems for them. Wouldn't even be the first time it had caused problems for Lance in particular. He just seemed to have the bad luck to walk straight into dangerous situations no matter where they could be found.
After he'd tired of yelling for Shiro and Allura, Lance started calling for Blue, instead. It was a last resort. He knew it would cause problems if a giant mechanical lion came to get him out. Red had nearly destroyed an allied base when Keith was in danger, after all, and those allies had hardly been pleased, either. Lance didn't want to cause problems, he really didn't.
But he was cold. He was shaking so hard that it hurt, and he could barely feel his hands. Ironic for the Blue Paladin to be suffering so much from the cold. Blue used an ice blast, and she was powerful in water, yet here her pilot was, unable to stand a lower temperature than was normal for his species.
Then again, this was...really low. The cell was made of ice, for pity's sake. Most of the building where they'd been meeting the Ustarese had seemed pretty normal, if a bit chilly. So why was the prison apparently built into a glacier? Lance's brain was starting to shut down, but had Allura and Coran mentioned...the Ustarese were...they came from...
No. He couldn't remember. Lance paced harder, but it didn't seem to be helping. "Blue," he called again, voice a hoarse plea. "Come for me. Please, please come. I'm s-so cold. I need you, beautiful."
He didn't understand what was taking so long. Red always came for Keith. He usually didn't have to call her, either. Whenever he was in trouble, lost in space or hurt on a planet or trapped in a base somewhere, Red was just there, scooping him up or blasting things down. Come to think of it, wow, Keith got into trouble a lot.
Not to mention the fact that Keith had gotten to pilot the black lion, too, even though it had only been to save Shiro. How cool did Keith need to be? Wasn't he cool enough already? Yeah, when Lance had first heard the story, he'd been a little jealous. Okay, maybe a lot.
But he had always figured that if he ever needed help, Blue would be right there, just like Red was for Keith. His bond with Blue had to be at least as strong as theirs. After all, he'd met Blue first, hadn't he? He was the first one to get chosen, the first one... Plus, Lance was awesome at bonding with people. No one could resist him, let alone a giant robot lion who had actually picked him from a group of four other people, all of whom were amazing in their own ways. His and Blue's bond had to be spectacular.
It had to be.
"Blue, p-please..." It was getting hard to walk around. His feet felt sluggish and slow, and his tears were starting to freeze on his cheeks. Lance wrapped his arms around his torso as hard as he could and squeezed, trying to imagine that it was Hunk giving him a big warm hug. It didn't work. He was...so cold.
He forgot about trying to convince the Ustarese to let him go. Forgot about calling Allura and Shiro to come for him. Everything else faded from his mind, which was getting fuzzy and whited-out, anyway. All he could think about was Blue. All he wanted was his lion to save him.
He couldn't walk anymore. Lance felt himself sinking to his knees. His shoes provided some insulation from the icy floor, his jeans not quite as much. But he couldn't drag himself up. He knelt there, bent over himself with his face pressed to his thighs, arms still clenched around his belly as if he was trying to hold in his own guts. He was shaking so hard he could barely think.
"Blue." It was a faint murmur, muffled in his jeans. "Blue, I need you, I need you, please..."
It was useless. He was useless. He didn't matter. No one cared. They'd left him here to die, and no one cared. He was going to freeze here, poor little tropical boy trapped in an ice cave far, far away from home. He was never going to see his family again. Never going to see his team again. Never going to fly with Blue again. He wasn't needed, and he wasn't wanted.
His chest ached. He wanted to be wanted. He wanted to be needed. He wanted to be useful. But he couldn't help it. He couldn't help being a screw-up. It was just who he was. Always crashing the simulator, annoying his teammates, insulting the priestess. He didn't mean to. He just did. It was who he was. Useless, annoying, unimportant.
"Blue, please. Please..."
He cried, and it was so pathetic that it made him cry more. What was wrong with him? Why couldn't he be strong? Why couldn't he just be better?
It hurt. After awhile, it didn't hurt quite as much. Lance toppled over on his side, but he barely felt it. He barely felt anything.
Hands. Voices. Lance wanted to flinch from the burning touch, but he didn't have the energy to move. Hunk was there, hauling him up, pulling Lance into his arms. Lance fell limp against his broad, warm chest, unable to react.
"Lance, Lance!" Hunk sounded so scared. Lance was sorry for that, in a distant way. He didn't want Hunk to be scared. That wasn't fair. A big, warm hand cupped around his cheek, and a thumb swiped under his eye, trying to rub away the crust of frozen tears. "Lance, please open your eyes. Please, buddy. Can you look at me? Please."
It didn't feel good when you begged and someone didn't answer. Lance didn't want that for Hunk. He tried. It seemed to take every last drop of energy he had, but he forced his eye open. Hunk hovered above him, a big round blur of a friendly brown face, surrounded by blue-tinged white.
"Hunk..." It hurt to talk. His lips hurt. He did it anyway. "She didn't come."
Hunk squeezed him tighter. "Sorry about that, buddy. Allura's still talking to the Ustarese. We know you were yelling for her. She was really sorry she couldn't get to you right away. She wanted to."
"No." It was as much a groan as it was a word. Lance let his eye fall shut, and another tear slipped out, hot enough to burn. Hunk wiped it away before it could cool on his skin. "She didn't come. She didn't come."
Hunk made a noise of distress and hefted Lance up in his arms so his face was pressed into his chest, hidden against his bulk. Lance let himself be manhandled, mainly because he couldn't help it. Hunk was still too hot, too close, and it hurt. But it was a good hurt. Lance knew he needed to warm up, no matter how much it burned. At least Hunk cared about him, even if no else did. Lance tried to grasp Hunk's shirt in his frozen fingers, but when Hunk rolled to his feet, hauling him up in his arms, Lance's weak grip was dislodged.
What followed was a blur. A bright, hot, painful blur. Of course they couldn't use the cryo-pod to treat hypothermia and incipient frostbite, but the Alteans had other methods. Lance had a fuzzy impression of a pool of steaming water, his head cradled in Coran's arms as his entire body shook violently, then being wrapped in heated cloth that made him whimper and moan. Everything hurt so much that the pain wiped out almost everything else, but he was pretty sure he babbled at times, delirious and sweating, blurting out apologies and confessions and begging for forgiveness. The redeeming factor was that only Coran and Hunk seemed to be there to hear him, and Lance knew he could trust them with his deepest, darkest, most useless self.
When it was over, Lance was so tired he could barely see. The cessation of pain was a relief approaching euphoria, and he felt like he was floating in a cloud of down. There was a sensation of being lifted, Hunk's deep warm voice rumbling around him. He cracked his eyes, caught a glimpse of the hallway, his own room. Then he was being bundled into bed. Hunk's big, warm hand pressed over his forehead, but it didn't hurt this time. Lance closed his eyes again, and everything faded.