They've seen plenty of worlds by now. Fought plenty of monsters and high-powered, fierce enemies to save whole civilizations and each other and lived to tell the story at the end of the quintant.
Chapters eventually come to a resolution somewhere, even for the most epic and breathtaking of stories worth retelling over, over and over, and Shiro would like his very own journey to end with going home to Earth, if that's possible — back to Oklahoma, where the nastiest thing about to interrupt his life was an avalanche of dust-storm or a twister ripping through the fenced off backyard.
For now, he's stranded. Again.
The quintessence-powered Lions aren't working as they normally do. On this massive stretch of desolately grey and rocky planet, seeming inhabitable due to the highest concentration of super-radiation levels Shiro has ever seen in his life, it's just him and Lance wandering around.
Communications to the other Lions are jammed by interference. Shiro continues to try occasionally, calling out for Allura or Keith to reply, as both men pass by odd, winding structures. It's either because none of the other paladins are close enough to receive his transmission or because of the gigantic, dense neutron black-star burning furiously in the near-distance, ominously ringed in a phosphorescent blue.
The longer Shiro is here, the sooner he wants to be gone.
For now, they're following Lance's mapping tracker build into the forearm-portion of his white, armored suit, flashing and beeping a holo-signal to the Red Lion's position.
The towering, winding structures at their backs had given the impression of thickened and grey tree-roots, merging and warping, forming their rocky, glittering tops in a mushroom-shape. No vegetation. No water sources. Gravity is fairly noticeable to the point where they possibly don't need to activate stabilizers. The atmosphere is fairly clear, and Shiro can glimpse two moons — one that is a persimmon-color outlined with sapphire and the other a deadened, skeletal white. The second moon is much bigger looking, pale and glowing, and has a faint silhouette of an asteroid belt circling it.
They have to assume their conditions are unpredictable, and that the use of their jet-packs may be needed for traveling safely until the Red Lion is within sights. Shiro discovers if he and Lance avoid the magnetized fields and stay within at least a yard of each other, their own comm.-links receive each other's transmissions with no problem. At least one blessing out of an ongoing disaster…
"I'm really glad you're okay, Shiro." Lance's voice pinpricks into Shiro's wandering thoughts. He glances around to the other, thinly smiling paladin. "I know things got scary for a while…"
That's an understatement. Shiro died and became trapped on a cosmic astral-plane by the Black Lion while Haggar's clone replacing him tried to murder Lance and everyone else Shiro loved. And then the newest clone body Shiro inhabits rejected his soul, before everything finally settled down.
A deeply awkward silence falls over them.
Lance clears his throat, rubbing his neck and attempting to smile wider. "I honestly can't wait to get outta here and back on Earth," he blurts out. "It feels like it's been twenty deca-phoebs. Maybe more. How about you? Got someone waiting for you back home, Shiro?"
"I did," Shiro responds, his lips curling up despite the terse subject. "He… it didn't work out."
He doesn't look up, but Lance's mouth flattens in contemplation.
"Sorry to hear that," Lance mumbles, gazing over the holo-blue projection of his tracker. There's something else in Lance's voice that Shiro picks up on. "Was he… like a boyfriend or…?"
"Closer to a fiance. We had been together for a while. I think at the time I was getting second thoughts before the mission to Kerbaros." Shiro quickly avoids some rubble, maintaining his balance successfully without his right arm. "Why so curious about that?" Shiro asks, laughing lowly.
A flustered, strangled kind of noise.
"What's wrong with being curious!?" Lance says a little too forcibly, his blue eyes going a little too wide with indignation. He drops his arm. "Curious is… good!" Lance insists, features reddening when Shiro eyes him. "It is! You-you ask questions… then you get answers…!"
There's a greyed, stone-like canyon above them, and the only way to get to the Red Lion is climbing up and through a set of small, narrow passageways. It takes nearly half a varga.
"How about you, Lance?" Shiro speaks up, trying to block out his dread and anxiety when the passageways feel like they're getting narrower. He grunts, easing out of the last one and pressing his hand against a boulder. "You waiting on a girlfriend back home? A boyfriend? Partner?"
Sweat trickles down the back of his neck. Lance emerges from the passageway and scales up the rocks with him, right below Shiro and going at a slower pace. It's not too steep or difficult of an upwards climb considering Shiro still only has his organic arm. "Nah… the person I like is, uhh…" The hesitation makes him peer over his shoulder, as Lance's face scrunches up in an bashful embarrassment. "They're not that far away…" Lance adds solemnly, lodging his foot to another rock.
There's no eye-contact between them but Shiro's pulse quickens. He couldn't mean… could he?
Giving himself a moment to compose himself, once finding stable canyon-ground, Shiro grasps onto one of Lance's hands and pulls. He tentatively helps the other man stand up, their fronts colliding.
They remain like this, armor-to-armor, breathing heavily from exertion. Their fingers separate gradually, hooking together, loose and featherweight. "They must be very special to you," Shiro tells him, softly watching as Lance dazes out, examining him and peeking down at Shiro's pale pink lips.
It's more of a rasp than Lance's voice, and Shiro can't help but chuckle. Was he ever that obvious around boys he knew right before Shiro recognized the fact that he was attracted to them?
Shiro playfully taps against Lance's helmet-visor, right against the middle of his forehead.
"Let's keep moving," he says.
According to the latest readings, the toxicity of this world's atmosphere, on top of the radioactive levels, peak their worst the further they venture beyond the wastelands and over the canyons.
They're not very high up the canyon-side, but have to trudge along the outermost portion. As long as neither of them run out of oxygen, Shiro figures they would be alright to make it back to the Red Lion. He's been in tighter spots before. He's still at a eighty percentile according to the stats flickering on his insides of his paladin-helmet, but needs to check over Lance's own percentile.
"How far are we now?" Shiro asks, coming up by Lance who gazes down at his forearm's rapidly beeping tracker and then into the bleak, colorless horizon with mounting and wordless doubt.
"It's right here… it says Red should be here," Lance says confused, shaking his own arm containing the tech and muttering, slapping it. Shiro grasps around Lance's shoulder to calm him and looks around at all sides of them. Nothing. Nothing is here but the grey, huge canyon.
"Here? Here where, Lance?"
"Ummm… is…" Lance's eyes round out, the whites growing around his oceanic-blue irises, as everything around them starts to quake visibly. "Shiro, is this supposed to be happening…?"
Panic doesn't set in until they hear the tremors split apart the rocky, weather-worn floor beneath them. Shiro dodges some rocks and dust exploding and tumbling over his head, but hears "SHIRO!" and feels Lance jerkily shoving him out of the dangerous pathway of the rockslide.
Shiro covers his head while the noises become deafening, the canyon itself roaring. "Lance!" he shouts out, heaving onto his feet when a greyish, murky dust settles over. "Lance, hey—!"
The only reply is crackling feedback.
He swears and gropes along the canyon's outer wall, reaching out blindly in the murky, swirling dust. "Lance, you gotta answer me, buddy!" Shiro yells. "I gotta know you're okay!"
Finally, Lance copies him, but there's no sign of him anywhere up here. It's not until Shiro's dread returns with a vengeance that he leans and peers down the canyon-side, where most of the rockslide took place. The air begins to clear up. Shiro's eyes glimpse Lance's body wedged between some of the bigger, craggy rocks.
"Oh my god—Lance!" Shiro yells again, deciding to go after him.
Fortunately, he's able to slide most of the time down, stumbling and crashing onto his ass a few times. Their comm.-link's sync up the closer Shiro gets to him, receiving transmissions.
"Yeah… I'm…" Lance breathes out, fogging his visor and raising his head weakly. "I can't move."
Overall, he seems to be intact. The rocks haven't dug into Lance's torso or his neck. The biggest ones pin down Lance's left leg from his upper thigh, and another one landed on his right arm and keeps it from budging. Shiro manages to pry up that rock long enough for Lance to pull his arm free.
He clutches it to himself, hissing and groaning through the pain. "Possibly a hairline fracture if you don't move it anymore," Shiro tells him after plugging a cord from his suit into one of the ports to Lance's own suit, going over Lance's med-readings. They're bugging out, but he's dealt with enough semi-mangled tech to decode it. "Your leg… okay, yeah, we need to get you out of here."
Shiro tries, huffing and straining with all of his weight against his left arm, to lift even one rock trapping Lance. The veins against his temples darken to a purpling color, bulging.
"I can't…" he declares, gasping out and kneeling. "I can't move these on my own." Lance doesn't say anything, still on his back and holding his injured arm to his chest, his eyelids shuddering. "Maybe there's something on your Lion that can help. What did the map say before the earthquake?"
"Red's here…" Lance whispers. Slits of dark blue appear as his eyes fall open, gleaming with unshed moisture. His lashes quiver apart. "Ss'what it said, Shiro… …"
The interference must have been messing with more than just communications. Shiro realizes this, his gut lurching and his mouth turning dust-dry. He sits on top of a roughened, grey boulder, rubbing his palms over his helmet-visor, licking his lips and staring helplessly at the canyon.
Still no outside transmissions from the other Lions. No means to communicate to anybody outside of the gravitational field of this planet. However, there's no aftershocks to follow the sudden quake.
He half-considers going back up the eeriely quiet canyon to scan for the Red Lion, when Shiro notices the porridge-color of Lance's usually brown skin and his laborious breathing. He's not speaking coherently when Shiro drops down beside him, calling for him, touching gently over Lance.
Lance's oxygen percentile has drastically dropped, but there's evidence of something else in the newer med-readings. Shiro's throat clenches. Blood. A lot of Lance's own blood has filled up his lungs, responsible for the choking, sputtering sounds when Lance exhales and winces.
After scanning him, Shiro locates the tiniest, microscope crack to the far edge of Lance's visor.
Poisoning — radioactive poisoning.
"Wh'ss wrong?" Lance murmurs, bemused when a fiercely determined Shiro grabs onto his shoulder. He wheezes, shuddering in abrupt, sharp pain, as the other man hauls Lance's body upright, cradling him most of him against Shiro's front with his organic, left arm tightening to Lance's waist.
"I gotta figure out a plan to get us out of here. That's all." He listens to the wheezes going quiet, slowing down until Lance doesn't seem to be breathing. Shiro's heart skips a beat. "Lance?"
A tick passes, and then Lance's voice rises, tinged with fear, "I need to… ss'ssay something…"
"Okay," Shiro agrees coolly, rocking them. "You can say it when we're back on Red."
"Mm…" Lance hacks noisily, alarming both of them, spraying a film of saliva and bright red against the inside of his visor. Shiro turns him over onto his side quickly, internally panicking as a darker, wetter blood dribbles between Lance's teeth. "Mmm'not gonna make it…"
He doesn't know what to do — stranded with his dying friend.
"You're gonna be fine. I promise, Lance."
Knowing it's a lie makes the roof of Shiro's mouth ache. He barely notices the grey rocks trembling and rattling, the canyon itself splitting apart and darkness swallowing them all up.
With everything going on, leading Voltron and dealing with his suppressed trauma, Shiro thinks Lance has never really been given his full attention. The recognition Lance has deserved all along. The similarities they shared or Lance's borderline romantic feelings about Shiro.
Turns out, the quakes had been a result of an underground, watery civilization.
Beings like mers, with black, scaly flesh and shark-like jaws and huge, bio-luminescent antennas, effectively sense both Shiro and Lance descending into their food-gardens from the world above.
Instead of allowing them to drown, the mer-beings treat their wounds and Lance's radioactive sickness. Shiro finds himself able to breathe in this cavernous, deep water, losing his helmet while falling and stroking over the temporary, modified gills linked to his respiratory system.
(Not out of the kindness of their hearts, but in order to acquire information out of them.)
(And why the Red Lion had shown up, pummeling into their imperial city.)
Perhaps another quintant passes before a completely naked Lance stirs awake, floating comfortably within a nest of seaweed and healing coral, gagging out hordes of bubbles and nearly passing out.
"Shiro," he mumbles, drowsily clinging to Shiro's neck, whimpering. "I…"
"I know," Shiro mumbles too, planting his mouth hotly against Lance's ear and smiling fondly.
He knows all too well.
Voltron isn't mine. I posted my pinch hit for the Langst Autumn Exchange 2k18 first and now I am posting my original gift! I was assigned alliaskofyou on Tumblr and I hope they enjoy their Langst/Shance angst! I had a good time working on this fic! I hope you guys love it too! :) Any thoughts/comments are so welcome! Thanks!