*writes things for other fandoms instead of my incomplete stories* PROGRESS
Anyway, this is my first story in this fandom. Probably my only one, honestly. Also, since Pidge identified herself as female in the show, that's what I'm rolling with.
He has not slept in twenty-two hours. He can't. In his dreams the shadows lurk, poking and prodding and taking. He is glad the lights in the castle are blue, because they can drown out the yellow and purple haunting his memories.
Restless, Shiro gets out of bed and walks to the nearest mirror. He braces his arms on the counter and stares at his reflection. It is barely visible in the soft blue light the castle gives off at night, but he can see enough.
The scar that was not there, that he can't remember getting.
The white and gray hair that was not there, that he can't remember getting.
The metal arm that has taken the place of his real one, that he can't remember getting.
In the dark it is easy to close his eyes and imagine that nothing has changed, that his arm is still flesh and his hair is dark. Easy to believe that he can open his eyes and be on Kerberos again, his body and mind whole, listening to his commander and his assistant talk about science so complex he barely follows it.
But when he opens his eyes they glow yellow.
He blinks and they are dark brown again.
"Enough of this," Shiro mutters. He goes back to his bed. Even if his mind will not rest, he can at least rest his body.
"Wow, Shiro. You look…tired."
He looks at Lance with one eyebrow up while he makes his way to the table. "Thanks."
"Have you been sleeping?" asks Keith.
"Yes, I'm fine. What's for breakfast?"
"Goo, goo, and more goo," Lance says. "Hunk's grabbing us plates now."
"Bridge," Pidge says. "With Coran."
Shiro can feel Keith's eyes on him throughout breakfast. But the red paladin doesn't approach Shiro until afterwards, when the others are filing out of the room.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
He appreciates Keith's concern, and knows that in the future it will help them become even closer as a team. But this is not a problem that Keith needs to worry about; Shiro can handle it on his own.
"I am okay, Keith," Shiro says. He puts a hand on Keith's shoulder and squeezes, willing Keith to believe him. "Honest."
For a moment, Keith is about to argue. But then he smiles, gently knocking Shiro's breastplate with his fist. "See you in training."
Shiro watches him go, his smile changing to a pensive frown.
If Keith had seen through him that easily, then he needs to try harder.
Training for the day is the mental exercise they had done in the very beginning. With the strange headsets on their heads, the paladins arrange themselves in a circle on the training room floor. They don't need Coran to direct them anymore, and each time the time it takes them to form Voltron grows smaller and smaller. Everyone has broken focus at some point, but they are getting better at keeping it together.
Today they are focusing on connecting. The more trust they have in each other, the more responsive Voltron will be in a fight.
"Keith, keep your breathing steady," Shiro says. He doesn't have to open his eyes to know that Keith has grimaced, but the boy's breathing soon evens out.
Shiro deepens his breathing, pushing his worries and his morning out of his mind and focusing on opening himself to the others. Bonding like this is strange, and without implicit trust Shiro knows that he would find this uncomfortable. But he trusts the other paladins, and they trust him.
He sees food in Hunk's mind, but behind that are memories of a family and two parents adept at cooking. Keith is thinking of the house he had tracked Voltron from, while Lance is thinking about his family at what appears to be a beach. Pidge is thinking about her brother and father, but her memories are tinged with fondness instead of bitterness.
Shiro keeps his mind blank. Thoughts about the black lion and other random memories drift through his consciousness, but he is not focusing on anything in particular.
He feels someone's attention on him and lets them explore. He wonders who it is, but he doesn't want to disturb anyone else's focus by asking.
They poke around in the wrong place.
A tide of yellow crashes through him, a leering grin and sharp hands that cut like knives and he is falling—
Concentration shattered, Shiro opens his eyes to see the other paladins yanking off their headgear. He does the same, blinking the afterimages out of his eyes.
Pidge is shaking, looking at Shiro with wide eyes. "What was that?"
"Yeah, man, that was scary," Hunk says.
"You all saw that—that creepy thing, right? With the hands?" Lance asks.
"Yes, we did," Keith says. "Seriously, Shiro. What was it?"
Shiro shakes his head. "I don't know. A memory, maybe. From my time as a prisoner." He is all too aware of his right arm and clenches his hand into a fist. "I'm sorry if anyone was startled."
Everyone had been startled. He can see that clearly, but Keith shakes his head after a moment of uncomfortable silence.
"It's not your fault."
Shiro nods, even though he doesn't agree. "Let's take a break for today. We can try again tomorrow."
Hunk and Lance exchange a look. "We'll stay. We have to work on our aim."
Shiro nods acknowledgement. "Okay." He could ask Allura about their next planned destination, and talk about action plans in the event of an emergency. Those will be better than going back to his room.
Keith follows him out into the hall. He doesn't say anything, but Shiro appreciates the silent show of support. He breaks off at one hallway, saying he has to check on something in his room. Shiro waves and then heads to the bridge.
He finds Allura at the helm, looking pensive as she examines a three-dimensional map of their surroundings.
"What's the situation?" Shiro asks.
"We're low on supplies," Allura replies. "There is a moon here that would suit our needs—" she gestures—"but any information I have on its inhabitants and atmosphere is ten thousand years old. The scanners are not picking up any signs of life."
"Maybe it's uninhabited," Shiro says.
She doesn't sound convinced. Her caution is warranted, given the empire hunting them down, so Shiro thinks for a moment.
"When we get closer, Pidge can scout the moon using his stealth tech," Shiro offers. "That way, we can stay out of range and find any potential attackers."
Allura brightens. "Wonderful idea! I will call for Pidge when we get close." Then she frowns. "Weren't you supposed to be training with the other paladins?"
"Oh, uh…" Shiro rubs the back of his neck. "We had a bit of an incident. No big deal, but I told them to take a break for the day. We'll be back at it tomorrow. Lance and Hunk are practicing with their weapons right now."
A bit mollified, Allura nods.
Coran glances over.
"Shiro! I require your assistance! Well, really only your hands." Shiro walks over to Coran. "Here, hold this." Coran hands Shiro a small box. "And this." Another box. "And this." A…sphere? "And this." He is running out of arm space. "And this." The tower of objects wobbles dangerously, and Shiro's shoulders burn from strain. "One last thing."
After rearranging the items so that they won't fall out of his arms at the slightest bump, Shiro takes them to the storage room Coran had directed him to. On the way he passes Pidge, who appears to have taken apart one of the lights lining the walls. After he finishes, he goes back to her and crouches down.
"What are you doing?"
"Gah!" She jumps, but quickly regains her equilibrium after seeing Shiro. "You startled me."
Shiro raises one eyebrow, knowing she had heard his question.
"Uh, right. Um. I was just…wondering what powered these."
"So you took it apart?"
"I was curious." Pidge is defensive, so Shiro gives her a small smile.
"I'm not mad, Pidge. What have you learned?"
"You…want to know?"
"I was curious too," Shiro admits. "Honestly, the technology in this place is amazing." He thinks of his right arm.
"And it's ten thousand years old!" Pidge is off like a shot, her eyes alive with excitement as she explains what she has figured out from just one light. Shiro can understand most of it, but Pidge occasionally dips into technical jargon that slides over his head. He asks questions, but not too many. He has learned from Lance and Hunk that Pidge does not appreciate being interrupted too often.
She does not seem bothered by the incident during training anymore. Shiro says a few encouraging words and then goes to the training deck. He can observe Lance and Hunk, and give them advice if necessary. Besides, knowing how they fight can help in the future.
Shiro returns to his room in the late afternoon to shower. His armor is dirty, so he spends a while cleaning it. The material is unlike anything he has ever seen before; despite all the time he has spent in it, it shows no signs of wear.
"It is Altean tech, I guess," Shiro mutters.
The alarm comes without warning, but Shiro is suited up and running for the bridge in under a minute.
"Allura, what's going on?"
"Galra patrols are in the system."
Shiro enters the bridge right as the others do. They are all in their armor, and in the back of his mind Shiro both approves and takes note.
"How close?" asks Keith.
"We're out of their range," Coran says. "But we'll have to be careful if we want to make it to that moon."
"Moon?" asks Pidge.
"Supplies," Shiro explains. She nods.
Allura purses her lips for a moment. "Alright. They are not attacking, and as long as we stay in the shadow of the nearby planet and its moons, we can avoid their sensors. If anything goes wrong, we will need you in your lions, so be ready."
"Yes ma'am," Shiro says. He doesn't salute, though the instinctual desire to is there. Years spent as a cadet are hard to ignore, and Allura is technically his commanding officer, even if he is the head of Voltron.
They drift out of the bridge. Shiro goes to his room and begins organizing his few possessions simply for the sake of doing something. He has a souvenir from the denizens of the planet Arus—a staff that barely comes to his knee—and a small crystal hardly larger than his thumb from the balmera. He also has a few new pieces of clothing, which he suspects were made somewhere in the castle. Allura has only hinted as to what the castle has in its depths, and it is too big for Shiro to explore everything in one go.
Organizing his room takes less than ten minutes. He debates doing a quick workout but settles for stretching. He does not want to go into a battle tired, and stretching helps clear his head.
The only warning he gets is sudden shouting from the others. He's on his feet immediately.
"Keith? Lance? Hunk? Pidge? What's going on? Someone, respond!"
Lance's feed goes to static.
"Lance? Lance, answer me! What's going on?"
"We're under attack!" Allura shouts. "Some kind of stealth technology—the Galra, they've snuck into the Castle! Everyone, get to your—"
Static. The lights go out, and Shiro's room is plunged into darkness.
Shiro stands perfectly still, keeping his breathing as calm as he can. "Allura?" Nothing. "Coran. Coran, can your hear me? Keith? Hunk? Is anyone there?"
He can hear someone, but their words are fuzzy and soon fade to white noise. Sporadic words break through, but they make no sense without context.
They are under attack. The Galra must have snuck on board while they were distracted with the other patrols.
"Shiro? Shiro, are you still here?"
"Pidge?" Relief fills Shiro. He isn't the only one left unharmed. "Yes, I'm here."
"What happened? What's going on?"
"I don't know. Some kind of attack. We have to assume the others have been captured. Where are you?"
"The pod hangar, in one of the pods. I hid when I heard Allura, but…"
"Stay hidden," Shiro orders. "If they have hostages, we don't want to let them know where we are and what we're doing. I'll come to you, so hang tight."
Shiro takes a deep breath and looks around his room. If there are unknown enemies wandering the halls, he should avoid taking an obvious route.
His eyes land on a vent set in the wall.