“I don’t know, Shiro. I didn’t… I never… paid attention to that stuff while I was still… when I was enlisted. We weren’t there to see how they reacted to Kolivan trying to board the Atlas.”
Keith bites his lower lip.
“Are you sure it’s not like with… him? You guys were kind of their poster boys, so… maybe they’ve got it out for you since you’re not with…”
Unbelievably, both of them can trip over the same name in conversation and neither of them have to reference who they’re talking about because the hole is just so obvious. “It’s their fault he’s dead,” he says, through a sudden hot flash of anger, then, “sorry. I shouldn’t talk like that.” Says who? a little devil on his shoulder tries to tell him, and he shrugs it off. “You think their problem is that I’m not being faithful to him? To his memory? Or do you think it’s–”
The mention of Kolivan had Shiro slightly off-kilter. Now he sees where Keith was trying to guide this conversation. Keith’s the bad boy of the Garrison, the drop-out who pushed his luck too far when Kerberos happened. Not just that, but to them, he’s the bad guy in the universe. If he’s Galra enough to be a Blade, he’s Galra enough to be an enemy. Never mind that he’s taken Shiro’s place as the pilot of the Black Lion, still the Red Paladin of Voltron–his eyes flash with purple irises and yellow sclera, his teeth fang feral, and half his face bears his mother’s markings thanks to Shiro himself. He’s alien. Not just alien–the very force they’re fighting against.
“You know, I want to believe that the Garrison would be smarter than to try to split us up, just because of who you are,” Shiro says. “Maybe it’s not the Garrison. Maybe it’s just Curt.” Because he hasn’t looked at the other PAFs in his HR file, never needed to sign off on them since they were purely a shouted dressing-down from Iverson that was more phrased as a concern for his performance, but maybe the others were also filed by the same communications lieutenant who broadcast an unsecured message that led the Galra back to his home planet, started the occupation, and killed his erstwhile fiance. The first one he can forgive as an error in judgment and a series of mistakes by a now-dead admiral who’s atoned in the Garrison’s eyes. The rest… makes it look like a pattern, from someone on the bridge he’s supposed to be able to trust.
“Which is a damn shame, really,” Shiro continues. “Because if they’re going to make stuff up, like they did about Kerberos–they could make you and I a love story for the ages. A true love that only comes around once a millennia. The forbidden romance between two sides to an endless war, the literal star-crossed lovers who met on Earth but found themselves and each other in space.” A short, self-deprecating chuckle. “Sounds like the kind of pulp that would be printed with nip slips in the cover art.” Perfect for the kinds of stories the Garrison likes to tell about itself.