So much has changed now — there's no denying that.

The blistering, stuffy heat from outside Keith's newly built shack leaks through the cracked-open window. He wanted to head back the desert as soon as the paladins of Voltron returned to earth, coaxing a weakened and exhausted Shiro to follow him to this secure, isolated location. As long as Shiro needed it.

Keith doesn't bother with grabbing his material possessions, until his friends help him move what he had from the previous, broken-down shack into this one. For now, it's just him and Shiro.

(They promise to keep in touch — and to meet up, when it's time to be defenders once more.)

Shiro bends over a tub of swirling, darkened water, rinsing out the leftover dye from his hair. The ends of his fingertips semi-stained a blackish brown. He hasn't spoken a word all day. Keith offers to help him initially, scrubbing and combing Shiro's grey-silver hair and his scalp gently, and patting the dye onto his eyebrows as well. Keith would do anything to help Shiro feel normal again — like he was before the Kerberos mission, or being made into the Champion, or even before being killed in battle by Zarkon.

His gut twists. Keith's jaw clenches up as he stoops over and grinds a clean, washed hand over his face.

Shiro died.

He died alone and nobody — not a damn person — had even known about it.

"You okay, Keith?" The rumbling, low sentence reaches Keith's ears. Shiro glances over his shoulder, with trickles of clear, glimmering water running down his cheeks and neck, with his Galra arm missing and Keith feels so much emotion rising up in his throat that it lumps together.

"M'fine…" Keith mumbles, lowering his eyes. He takes in a shuddery, tight breath, Keith's heart galloping. "Hey, um, about… about when I called you my brother… I didn't mean…"

"What did you mean, Keith?"

There's no hostility or teasing in how Shiro asks him. For once, he sounds so sure and steady and strong, and Keith would like the credit it to the fact that they've been away from the pandemonium and chaos, from a galactic war they were never truly meant to get lost inside.

"I didn't know how to describe it when I wanted to… I think I got mixed up. It's more than…" Keith notices his next breath catching, making his throat seize up and click audibly. His voice trembles.

He can't look at Shiro. He just can't when Keith's emotions are no longer bottling up and they spill onto the shack's wooden floor at his feet like some bloody, vulnerably open wound.

"You're the most important person in my life, and I… I couldn't deal with losing you…"

The cot shifts and groans, as a frowning, solemn Shiro joins him. He leans over and hugs Keith with one arm, their temples knocking together clumsily. It's almost not enough — Keith wants them skin-to-skin, every possible, exposed inch and nerve-end set ablaze in this overwhelming heat.

"Kee…" Shiro breathes out.

He settles his chin on top of Shiro's bare shoulder, his lips ticking up despite how Keith's eyes rapidly moisten. Sweat visibly dampens Keith's pits, on his bright red tee. He's sure it's the exact same on Shiro's dark, sleeveless one. "You said I love you," Shiro adds, whispering against the shell of Keith's ear, watching expectantly as the other man startles, pulling back and gazing wide-eyed at him.

"You… you heard me…?"

Keith's lips separate when Shiro's thumb brushes so attentively, so softly over his facial burn-scar. "It's what woke me up," he tells Keith, starting to grin and laughing quietly when their mouths press together, Keith's hands cradling against the sides of Shiro's head and yanking him in. Shiro smells like the dye and sun-soaked, warm flesh and chalky soap that Keith stole from the garrison long ago.

I love you traces itself from the ends of Shiro's semi-stained fingertips, rolling over Keith's collarbone and hips and all the way up the length of his spine, towards his reddened, kiss-raw lips.

Maybe they both needed this.



Voltron isn't mine. SEASON 6 HAS ACTUALLY BROKEN ME. I'm still in shock. I cannot believe we got "I love you" from two military men - two people who are brothers in arms, who are best friends and consider each other a found family when they had nothing. That was ABSOLUTELY romantically coded. Wow. I'm shook. IF YOU SAW SEASON 6 FEEL FREE TO SCREAM HERE, AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU LOVE THE SHEITH. Hope you guys liked the fic! Comments/thoughts appreciated!