it’s the way they look at each other like they’re the only ones that really see one another.
it’s the way they look at each other like they’re the only ones that really see one another.
I had the sudden urge to go through some Mementos dialogue in Persona 5 and see if any could work for fun VLD doodles. And in doing so, I ended up finding one I like, changed it from Shadows to Galra, and even drew it as the pop-up bubbles, but with VLD characters instead. And who better than to use Lance and Pidge? It was actually fun to do and I love it.
Anyway, I hope y’all enjoy. Until next time!
In a move of pure pint-sized terror, Pidge inflicts upon her team the worst possible torture: She gifts Lance a slide whistle.
First – Previously – AO3 Mirror
Chapter 45: On Your Mark
Flying with Keith is usually a fun, albeit terrifying, mode of transportation. Usually, you enjoy the breeze in your hair and knowing that he wouldn’t let you fall. Even now you can see his face is one of pure focus, concentrating on keeping the four of you in the air and out of the trees. But as much as you now trust Keith in his ability to keep everyone alive, Hunk and Pidge do not. The pair have at least stopped screaming loudly for the time being, which you’re thankful for.
“Shit, shit, shit.” Pidge tightens their grip on Keith as he starts to descend. Hunk tucks his face into Keith’s neck with a groan.
“Relax, it’s fine.” You try to convince them both.
“It’s not!” Pidge glares at you. “Even I know we’re going too fast for a safe landing!”
Keith at the very least doesn’t hit anything on his way down, but his legs do give out. He twists everyone around and slides against the forest floor on his back with a grunt and a hiss. When you all come to a stop, his arms unwind from everyone.
“Are you okay?” You get up first, minding his wings beneath you.
“Fine. Had worse tumbles.” Keith grimaces. You help Pidge up to their feet while Hunk rolls away from Keith.
“I think I’m gonna…” He mumbles. Keith instantly pulls his wings in close to him, rocking upward as well.
“Gonna?” You tilt your head as you look over to Hunk. You get your answer right after that as he pukes onto the damp earth beneath him.
“Gross.” Keith scrunches up his nose. Pidge nods in agreement but steps over to him.
“Oh Gods above.” He whines.
“Come on, get away from the sick puddle.” They say. You help them get him up and further from the landing area.
“Arms above your head.” You tell him, gently guiding them up. He nods his head with his eyes firmly shut.
“Please distract me.” He begs you.
“Okay uh…” You look around.
“Tell us about what happened.” Pidge crosses their arms.
“Right. So --”
“Not yet.” Keith grunts.
“Why not!?” They turn to him. You watch him draw a line in the air before bringing his claws toward the ground. Pidge’s eyes widen as they catch onto what he’s doing.
“A circle?” You ask as he makes it large enough to surround the four of you.
“Mmm.” He nods when he returns to his place. He curls his fingers around something you can’t see and pulls it up above your heads. Something about it is familiar. When Keith seals the opening with a few lines you gasp softly.
“Honerva did something like this.” You murmur.
“Doesn’t surprise me. It keeps your conversations from being overheard when a room is compromised.” Keith looks over to you. “Haggar taught it to us.”
“The forest is compromised?” Hunk asks in between heaving breaths.
“It is home to various fae and spirits. Might as well make sure this stays amongst us only.”
“Magick,” Pidge whispers with an excited breath. Hunk lets his arms come down to his sides as he slowly opens his eyes up.
“You okay?” You ask him.
“Sorta.” He gives you a weak smile.
“Now come on!” Pidge focuses back on you. “Tell us already! We’ve been worried sick about you!”
“I…” You sigh. Keith shifts closer to you, his presence soothing before he even offers you his hand. You take it gratefully and trace his claws.
“Take your time,” Keith tells you.
“But don’t leave us hanging for too long.”
“Pidge!” Hunk scolds them.
“The night of the festival after midnight… I was kidnapped.” You start with.
“What do you mean kidnapped?” Pidge asks.
“Like you know, snatched. Grabbed. Held against my will.” Your voice rises. Keith squeezes your hand.
“Hey, breathe. It wasn’t their fault.” He says softly.
“I… I know. Sorry.” You cover your face with your hand as you breathe, centering yourself out of habit. Hunk and Pidge fall silent letting you gather your bearings, which you are grateful for.
“It was the Blades.” You pull your hand away to look at them. “They probably took me through one of the secret tunnels leading out of the castle.” You pull out the map that you and Keith had made, offering it to the pair.
“But why would they do that?” Pidge murmurs taking the map.
“Because of me.” Keith glares at the ground.
“Not just you,” You have to remind him. “But also for getting involved with Honerva. And for pulling innocent people into this.” You look at Hunk and Pidge. The duo gives you a confused look and you have to take a breath to settle your nerves again. This should be easier to do already, how many times have you recounted this story now?
“The Blades took my magick from me. They… bound me. I can’t do anything now.”
“Lance…” Tears start to well up in Hunk’s eyes.
“All because they don’t understand what’s really going on! They’re stuck thinking that everything is evil and wrong. And even if I had admitted to anything they wouldn’t have listened to me!” You tighten your grip on Keith’s hand. “I have never felt so… Humiliated and shamed. Gods below they beat me up and left me in the gardens to make it look like I was mugged or something.”
“Fuck…” Pidge glares at the map. “And this is the path they took?”
“Probably. But that’s beside the point.” You say as Keith rubs soothing circles into your hand.
“What is the point?” Hunk asks.
“Honerva said that… that she could bring it back. Reawaken me and I’d be able to…” You trail off.
“But wouldn’t that be… dangerous?” He shifts nervously on his feet.
“If the binding isn’t removed before she awakens him, it could kill him,” Keith says.
“Lance’s Quintessence is strong, very strong. Therefore the binding has to be of at least equal strength to keep it under control. It’d be like forcing a boulder through the smallest crack in a brick wall. One will give before the other.”
“But!” You cut in. “Honerva has a plan. She said the main thing I needed to get for her was two people with a strong will that I trusted.”
“And that’s where we come in, right?” Pidge asks.
“Exactly.” You nod.
“This map is for Hunk and I to sneak into the castle then? This map is huge.”
“You have to follow it exactly as it says. Traveling through a different set of tunnels or pressing the wrong buttons will cause things to end poorly.” Keith tells them as he points out the path they need and the spaces where he had pressed hidden switches.
“I’d bring a light.” You advise Hunk. He isn’t even looking at the map, too busy staring at you.
“...Are you okay?” He asks. Pidge goes silent, quietly listening for your answer while Keith hovers over their shoulder.
“The tunnels are creepy but it’d be better with a light is all.” You shrug.
“No, I mean… Are you okay?”
“I…” You cross your arms over yourself as you chew on your cheek. How are you supposed to answer that? A part of you wants to lie, to tell them that everything is daisies and roses, but you know you shouldn’t. You had promised them that you’d be honest and that you’d stop keeping secrets. More importantly, they’re going to be helping you do something suspicious with Honerva.
“As long as we don’t talk about what physically happened to me, I’m okay. I just… don’t really want to talk about y’know,” You wave a hand vaguely. “The bottling process.” Hunk frowns but nods, accepting the answer.
“If you need someone…” He trails off.
“I have you guys.” You smile and nudge his shoulder with yours. He chuckles but you can tell he still has something on his mind. Pidge however beats him to the punch, voicing what’s bothering them first.
“We really can’t be doing these team huddles all the time. There’s so much catching up that keeps happening that it cuts into planning.” They sigh.
“I know but…” You trail off.
“It might be, but this is all we have.” Hunk frowns. “If we can’t figure out how to best maximize our time that we have together, then we aren’t doing something right.” Pidge toys with the edge of the map and Keith watches them silently.
“It makes things harder but…” They take a deep breath. “But not impossible.” They look up at you with a steely resolve in their eyes.
“There’s no such thing as impossible.” Hunk agrees.
“Not for us.”
“I don’t… I don’t think that’s how that works.” Keith murmurs.
“So let’s talk a bit about strategy.” Pidge turns to Keith and he hums. Hunk joins them and the four of you try to plan out the next steps the best you can without knowing what High Priestess Honerva is doing. You remind them to bring a light for a third time, maybe a rag to cover their faces for the smell. Pidge pales a little when Keith mentions the mass grave they’ll have to travel through.
“You okay?” You ask them.
“I know I’m going to see a fucked up ghost.” They shake their head.
“And I’m going to hear their screams! Their horrible screams!” Hunk whines.
“You won’t,” Keith tells them.
“What makes you so sure?” Pidge asks.
“They only come out if blood has been spilt on the ground recently.”
“That’s worse!” Hunk cries.
“That does make them sound more malevolent.” Pidge agrees with him for once.
“I mean, all things considered…” Keith rubs the back of his neck.
“Would they ever know peace?” You ask him.
“They haven’t for the past thousand years.” He shrugs in response.
“None of this is comforting.” Pidge groans. Hunk rubs the back of his neck.
“So… we get into the chapel and meet up with you and Honerva. What after that?” He asks.
“She’s going to have the rest of the supplies for her plan. I honestly don’t know what to expect.” You tell them truthfully.
“We’re gonna die.”
“And it won’t even be in a different country,” Pidge complains.
“You’re not going to die.” You tell them.
“Are you sure?”
“I… No.” You admit and look over to Keith.
“It wouldn’t make sense for her to kill you two. Not really.” He backs you up. “Considering the spells that require that tend to be… quite vile.”
“Vile…” Pidge sighs as they rub their face.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” Hunk rests a hand on their shoulder.
“Yeah… wouldn’t want my folks to mourn another kid.”
You know this must be rough for the two of them without knowing for sure if they’d be able to make it back home. Whether it be due to Honerva’s spell, the Blades finding out, or Shiro somehow calling this treason. You decide not to bring up the last point to them. Keith clears his throat awkwardly and you all look over at him.
“It’s getting late. Lance needs to be back in the castle before patrol changes.”
“Right.” Pidge nods as they step closer to him.
“Do… do you think you’d land as hard back in the town with all of us again?” Hunk asks as he wrings his hands.
“It’s a possibility.” Keith winces.
“That was the fun part.” Pidge jokes though you can see the tension in their eyes at the thought.
“How about you get Pidge home first and then you can come back for me and Lance?” Hunk offers. “Two might be a better load than three after all.” Keith considers it and nods.
“Stay here and don’t wander off. I’ll be back in a bit.” He scoops Pidge up into his arms.
“Be safe.” You step closer to them.
“When aren’t I?” He huffs a soft laugh. He leans down to give you a quick kiss to seal his promise before he turns and takes off into the air.
You can feel Hunk’s eyes on your back and you turn around to give him a questioning look. His gaze flicks from you to the sky above before he rubs the back of his neck.
“What’s up?” You ask him.
“I don’t want to pry…” He whines.
“I take it a kiss doesn’t break the curse?”
“Yeah. It uh… It definitely didn’t do that.” You sigh deeply and kick at the ground beneath you.
“So how do we feel about that?”
“I mean, it kind of sucks.” You shrug a shoulder, trying not to let it burn you too badly. “But now I can kiss him all I want. Maybe it isn’t the first kiss that breaks the curse, maybe it’s like kiss number three-hundred you know?” You want to believe in the words you’re saying, and maybe Hunk will too. You can’t let him know you’re running out of hope or ideas. He nods warily.
“We can definitely look more into it while we wait for Honerva to do her thing with us.”
“Especially since you guys can’t exactly get in the castle.”
“Hey, at least the next team huddle could have important information on both sides then!” He smiles.
“Thank you,” You murmur. “For everything.”
“Don’t mention it.” He tells you. You nudge his shoulder with yours and turn back to face the sky. Hunk’s presence is soothing and stable.
“This will all work out right?” You ask him softly.
“Even if we’re going in without all the puzzle pieces?”
“Yeah, man. We’re not working on a puzzle, we’re baking from scratch.”
You spot Keith in the night sky before Hunk does and carefully pull the big guy out of the way of Keith’s landing space.
“How’d it go?” You ask him.
“Safely delivered them back home,” Keith tells you.
“Ready to go back?” You turn to Hunk.
“Will it be as rough as the last one?” He asks anxiously.
“Probably not.” Keith picks you up and balances you easily on his hip. You drape your arms around his shoulders. Hunk takes a few deep breaths before nodding.
“Okay… Okay, let’s go before I psych myself out of it.”
“It’d be quite messy if you wanted out midair.” Keith agrees as he picks Hunk up and balances him on his other hip.
“Don’t even joke.” Hunk whines.
“I won’t give you time to reconsider anyway.” Keith hums and starts running through the forest to get you three airborne.
Hunk tucks his face into Keith’s shoulder and you can hear him mumbling something softly over and over again. Whatever it is has Keith laughing softly as he takes you above the trees. Keith flies over to where he had taken off from Pidge’s place, landing roughly on the streets without falling over this time.
“Thanks for the ride!” Hunk says as he all but leaps out of Keith’s arms. He braces himself against the nearest building, measuring his breathing.
“Are you gonna be okay?” You ask him. He nods his head and gives you a thumbs up.
“Yeah… I think so.” He stands up when he feels brave enough and smiles at you.
“See you soon?” You offer.
“Of course,” He nods. “Get back safely. We don’t need more security during this whole, seal-breaking thing.” He waves you two off.
“My thoughts exactly.” Keith adjusts his hold on you and gets you both into the sky once more.
“Are you sure it’s safe to fly back to the castle?” You ask him.
“Beats crawling through the tunnels doesn’t it?”
“Well…” While you admit he’s got you there, you know the sun will be rising sooner rather than later. You tighten your arms around his neck and pray that you aren’t seen by anyone.
He lands on the roof of the closest tower and his claws scrape against the slate tiles. He waits until he has himself balanced before he sets you down. You cling tightly to his arms, your heart thundering in your chest as you glance up at him curiously.
“What are we doing up here?” You try very hard not to look over the edge of the roof.
“Trying not to get us spotted.”
“And being an obvious mass on the roof is going to prevent that?”
“To be fair, I was going to have you get on my back.” Keith gently guides you towards his side.
“I want you to know, I hate everything about this.” You whine softly as you wrap your arms around his neck and jump onto his back.
“I’m aware.” Keith huffs a soft laugh. He leans forward and you yelp, locking your legs around his waist as he carefully crawls around.
You absolutely hate being on Keith’s back like this. Your weight presses down on his wings making them hard, if not impossible, to move. He at least had the foresight to keep them spread wide when you got on. You bury your face into his neck when he flings himself from one roof to the next, gliding slowly to the lower level.
He takes his time, pausing frequently and tapping his claws as he watches the guards move about. It’s another aspect that tells you he’s been doing this for quite some time now and it makes you wonder how often he’s had to hide from the guards. He curses softly and presses himself flat against the tile, an arm reaching back to keep you steady.
“What?” You whisper. You think you can hear shouting but you’re too high up to make out the words below.
“Hopefully nothing,” Keith murmurs.
“Did someone see us?”
“Shh.” He hushes you, tilting his head and brows furrowing in concentration. You stay still for much longer than you would have liked before Keith begins moving again.
“They think it was a bat,” Keith tells you as he prepares to glide to the next rooftop. You swallow your question as he flings you both in the right direction. You are more than relieved to be right above your room. Keith twists and lands gently on your balcony, dawn settling in and the night sky shifting to wine. He moves so you can slide off his back. His mind is elsewhere from what you can see.
“Keith?” You prompt.
“Sorry.” He shakes his head. “I was making sure no one was…” He waves a hand vaguely toward the railing of your balcony. You nod, it’s not like you could check as well as you used to with your Quintessence bottled up. You lean against the railing after making sure the coast is clear, turning to face Keith.
“Thank you again for helping me get to Hunk and Pidge,” You tell him. “I’m… really lucky to have friends like them.”
“You are…” He agrees, another distant look in his eyes. “I thought I had something like that.”
“What do you mean? Hunk and Pidge are your friends too.”
“No, I mean… I thought I had that with Acxa. We were as thick as thieves and we did nearly anything for one another.”
“And then she cursed you.”
“And then she cursed me.” He nods. You run a hand through your hair and shake your head.
“Hunk and Pidge aren’t Acxa though. They’re good people and they genuinely care about us, about me.”
“I’m not saying they’re terrible people!”
“But you’re implying that they could turn out like her. Which, by the way, is a major mood killer.”
“I’m being realistic.” He crosses his arms.
“Realistic about what?” You set a hand on your hip. “This doesn’t seem realistic about anything. It sounds more pessimistic than anything else.”
“Hunk and Pidge aren’t going to curse you but --”
“But what? You don’t trust them?” You ask. Keith growls softly as he paces.
“I gave them a map. A map to break into the castle.”
“Yeah you did, I thought you were okay with that?”
“The full weight of it is hitting me now.” He runs a hand through his hair and tugs at the strands.
“You know they aren’t going to hurt either of us, right?”
“Just because they won’t doesn’t mean someone else will play by the same rules.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I should have kept it and let them memorize it instead.”
“You’re being paranoid for no reason Keith. No one is getting a copy from them and you know it.” You cross your arms.
“You know, it’s kind of funny.”
“Whenever you want or need something you get it in spades.” He glares at the sky.
“What are you trying to say? Everything is falling into place.”
“What I'm trying to say is that everything comes with a price.”
“And maybe fate has already paid it forward.” You tell him.
“I just don't want you to get your hopes up for no reason”
“You're such a downer all of a sudden. I don't need this.”
“Fine. Then I'm leaving.”
“Don't be such a baby about it.”
“The sun's coming up Lance. I have to go.” Keith flexes his jaw before he sighs.
“...Okay.” You frown. He steps over to you and presses a soft kiss to your temple before he turns and pulls himself up to the roof of your room.
“I love you.” You call out to his retreating form, but Keith says nothing back, not even a vague gesture to indicate he’d heard you.
You rub a hand over your tired face and slip into your room. You make sure to drain the now cold bathwater and switch into clean clothes, tossing Pidge’s cloak over the foot of your bed. You grab the teacup that had been placed at the coffee table and toss it out too before returning it to where you had grabbed it. You nod to yourself glad to have cleared the room of the evidence of your adventure.
“At least I have time to sleep.” You mutter under your breath. You start to lift your covers to get cozy underneath them when there’s a knock at your door. You let your head hang and throw quite the tantrum in your head about the whole thing.
“Come in.” You answer as you adjust your sheets to look like you had just now gotten up rather than about to go to sleep. A maid pokes into the room and offers you a quick curtsey.
“Sorry to wake you, Prince Lance. King Shirogane and Princess Allura are wondering if you will be joining them for breakfast this morning.” She keeps her gaze trained low.
“Yeah, I will.” You tell her. She gives you another curtsey before giving you a curious look.
“May I ask what it is you’re doing, Prince Lance?”
“Making my bed.” You answer automatically, adjusting the sheets once more.
“You do not need to do that.” She says.
“Maybe not, but it’s soothing.” You answer. “Are you going to be informing the king and the princess?”
“Oh! Right. My apologies.” She does another little curtsey before scurrying away. You groan softly to yourself. You feel exhausted beyond belief as you sit down heavily on the bed.
“Should have asked when breakfast was being served.” You let yourself fall back against the mattress, closing your eyes for what feels like a few minutes before there’s another knock at your door.
“I’m up!” You groan and push yourself to your feet and approach the door. You pull it open and greet the nervous-looking guard tasked with escorting you to breakfast. You follow behind them and try to rub the sleep out of your face.
Shiro and the others in the dining hall rise when you walk in. You’re quick to wave a hand to let them know to sit back down.
“How’d you sleep?” Shiro asks you.
“Oh you know, the usual.” You smile and give a half-hearted shrug before taking your seat.
The house staff set a plate in front of you. You notice the way Shiro settles his hand over Allura’s and the tender gaze the two share however brief of a glance it was. You’re glad that they’re in a better mood than the days before. Then your eyes drift down to the breakfast that had been placed in front of you.
Vegetables have replaced the seasonal fruits for the most part, not that you mind it either way. You try to think of a kind way of asking about it without potentially insulting Shiro.
“According to one of our gardeners, the frost took some of our plants,” Shiro says as if reading your mind. “We weren’t expecting it to get this cold so fast. Normally we have a bit more time to move them into the greenhouse.” He gives you an apologetic smile.
“Oh, no worries! I had figured maybe the fruits stopped growing at this point.” You reassure him.
“Are there ever any issues for crops in Kyo͞obə during the seasons?” Shiro asks you curiously.
“The storms are what give us the most problems when it comes to crops. Nothing like a sudden torrential downpour to wipe out the citrus and cassava.” You sigh.
“I think it’s interesting that winter could eliminate the crops out here, but it’s summer for you.” Allura hums as she picks at her breakfast.
“To be fair though, my winters are never this cold.” You point out and Shiro hums.
“I’d love to visit one day.” He murmurs. You nibble on one of the carrots on your plate as you think about that. It would be nice to pay him back for letting you stay here all these months. Perhaps it’d be a nicer way of establishing an alliance between your nations as well.
“I’d definitely recommend coming during winter for you.” You tell him.
“Not summer?” Shiro jokes lightly.
“I don’t want to kill my cousin’s husband from heat exhaustion.”
“How kind of you.” Allura chuckles behind her hand. Shiro flexes his jaw as he thinks something over in his head. You give him time to speak by plucking the leaves off a few strawberries before eating them slowly.
“Listen…” Shiro starts. “I want us all to be on good terms. I want us to be excited for the wedding, and for you all to be safe.” He looks between you and Allura. The memory of his talk with Ulaz last night creeps back up to your mind.
“I understand,” Allura tells him, her fingers lacing with his. He gives her a small smile before returning his gaze to you.
“I want you to help me, help you.”
“I – I know. I’m sorry, I was kind of being a dick.” You rub the back of your neck and hope it conveys the right amount of sincerity.
“I will do my best to get you your justice and to help you with any sort of assistance you’d need as well.” You want to believe his words in full but with the Blades of Marmora tied to him, there’s little he could really do.
“Thank you, Shiro.” You give him a small smile. You can hear the soft hush from the house staff as someone enters the dining hall. You glance over your shoulder and your heart seizes for a moment when you see Kolivan striding in.
“Were you… able to remember more details about the person who attacked you?” Allura asks. You narrow your eyes as Kolivan steps up to Shiro’s side.
“Nothing new.” You tell her, your glare not leaving the captain.
Usually, the people who have caused you harm leave you with a lingering sense of fear and dread upon seeing them. Kolivan manages to surprise you with that. Fear doesn’t fill your gut when he looks you over; it’s sheer unbridled anger and rage. You tuck your hands under the table and clasp them together to keep them from reaching out and attacking him.
“The eastern portion of the castle’s structure has been cleared, Your Majesty,” Kolivan reports.
“That’s excellent news.” Shiro nods in approval. “That means the castle is secured.”
“So then, what’re your next steps you’ll be doing to find the people responsible?” You ask him, keeping the question full of curiosity. Accusing him now would bring you no favors and would only have him retaliate unpredictably.
“We will now move to interview the staff, those on duty that day and a week prior first, before moving onto the rest of them,” Kolivan tells you, voice calm and posture betraying nothing.
“How interesting. Do you have any leads?” You ask him.
“A few.” He nods. “We’re currently focusing on the guard as they would have been the most likely to have seen something.”
“Makes sense.” You murmur.
“Until the interviews have been concluded, I recommend keeping your distance with the staff.” He informs you.
“You make it sound like I’m befriending everyone.” You scoff.
“No, but you are a chatty person from what I gather. I don’t want the people responsible to have a heads-up and leave.”
“Just doing an investigation is enough to alert someone.” You tell him picking up your fork and examining it, feigning boredom.
“Perhaps,” Kolivan agrees, much to your chagrin. “It does help that I continue to recommend a lockdown of the castle and minimize incoming and outgoing persons from the grounds.” He turns his attention to Shiro.
“By all means.” Shiro gives him the go-ahead for the action.
“Also, if I may, Honerva is at the gate right now. I can send someone to pick up her… potions there.” You catch the slight grimace he makes at Honerva’s presence.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” You pipe up.
“And why is that, Your Highness?” Kolivan gives you a cold look.
“What if she needs to give me instructions?”
“I’m sure it can be remembered and told to you.”
“I want to hear it from the source,” You insist. “See, things have a habit of getting changed when passed from person to person. I mean, take a look at folklore throughout the years.” You point out. Kolivan opens his mouth to tell you something when Shiro speaks over him.
“Lance will meet her at the gate, albeit not alone. I’ll let you decide on a guard for him. After that, no one else will be allowed inside the castle walls.” Shiro orders.
“What about Hunk and Pidge?” You look over to him.
“Until Kolivan gives the all-clear, it’s safer this way.” He apologizes. You can’t exactly be upset by it; Shiro is doing it with your best interests at heart.
“Thank you.” You give him a small bow and rise to your feet. At least you had planned around this with the tunnel system, though a part of you was hoping it wouldn’t be necessary.
“Of course.” Shiro nods. You push your chair in and Allura pouts.
“What about your breakfast?”
“I don’t want to keep her waiting in the cold.” You say.
“He’ll be fine.” Shiro rests his hand on Allura’s shoulder, reassuring her. You turn to Kolivan and tuck your hands into your pockets.
“Might want to go get that guard for me.” You tell him.
“I’ll be escorting you.” He says and gestures for you to start heading out.
“Don’t trust anyone else?” You wave to Shiro and Allura.
“Not yet.” He hums following behind you as you make your way through the halls. Other guards quickly step out of the way when they see Kolivan behind you and you don’t blame them. He is an imposing figure after all.
“You know, you are allowed to walk at my side.” You tell him.
“Perhaps. But it’s easier to keep an eye on you this way.”
“Right.” You roll your eyes.
“That almost sounds like sarcasm, Your Highness.” He says. You stop to face him and hate how collected he looks.
“Who’s going to fall for your mistakes?” You hiss.
“My mistakes? Why Your Highness, I have only very recently been reinstated in my role.” Gods above he even knows how to look distressed by your accusation, a hand pressing against his chest and his brows upturned.
“Someone innocent is going to get hurt.”
“I can assure you, everyone is going to be protected.”
“You -- !” You throw your hands up and stomp your way through the snow outside. “You think this is some sort of joke!?”
“Jokes are best reserved for a court jester.”
“I see you’re a man of many hats then.”
“I must say there is no need to be this hostile.”
“I hate you.” You grumble under your breath. Kolivan clearly has a lot of practice in keeping himself cloaked in the shadows. Unfortunately for him, you’re not one to be easily fooled.
You hold your head up high when you approach the front gate. There is a small cluster of guards surrounding the entryway and you roll your eyes. You go to push your way through them when Kolivan calls them all to attention. Instantly, they part and you can see a very annoyed Honerva.
“High Priestess!” You smile as you approach her.
“My Prince,” She bows her head. “How are you feeling?”
“I’ve definitely been better.” You laugh softly. Her eyes glance over your shoulder and narrow.
“Kolivan.” She greets.
“Honerva.” He says.
“They’re not wanting to let anyone in.” You tell her.
“I had figured as much when I started being harassed.” She gestures to the guards still lingering around. You go to apologize but she holds a hand up to stop you. She reaches into a satchel she has draped over her thick cloak.
“For you, My Prince, as promised.” She hands you a thick glass bottle with a clear blue liquid.
“Drink this after you eat at night and it should help you with your sore throat.” She instructs and then gives you a small tincture with a cloudy green liquid inside.
“What’s this for?” You ask her curiously.
“It shall bring you peace of mind.”
“Peace of mind? Nothing like preparing for a battle right?” You laugh nervously. She shakes her head.
“No. Simply to help reassure you in this stressful situation you find yourself in.”
“Do I drink this one too?” You ask and she chuckles.
“Pour it into your bath, My Prince.”
“Alright.” You nod and murmur the instructions to yourself again.
“King Shirogane knows how to get ahold of me, should you require anything else,” Honerva tells you. “Though I do find the trip to be… arduous for a simple delivery, I will be more than willing to provide what I can.”
“Thank you again.” You step closer to her and pull her into a hug. She tenses up, probably startled by the action. It takes her a few moments before she starts gently patting your back.
“Of course, My Prince.” You let her go and she gives you another slight bow before walking toward the gates.
Kolivan clears his throat and the guards go back to their posts. You hold your gifts close to you as you turn around. He eyes them suspiciously before stepping aside for you.
“Don’t even trust what she’s given me?” You ask.
“Nothing of the sort, Your Highness.” He says as you head back inside.
“Then why the look?”
“They seem to be of good intentions and use.” He nearly sounds surprised by the fact.
“She’s a kind, harmless, High Priestess,” You tell him. “Unless you have reason think otherwise?” You blink up at him with the most innocent look you can.
“We have had a tenuous past before. I can only hope she is as you say her to be.”
“Gee I wonder what could have caused that.” You scoff.
“It is hard to trust someone who has brought harm to the crown once before,” Kolivan says.
“If that’s the case how come she hasn’t been executed for her crimes?”
“Politics, young prince.”
“Of course, of course. Was it also politics when it came to my case?” You ask.
“We’re not in court, Your Highness.” He says.
“Well, I’d like a jury of my peers for the next session.” You cross your arms.
“Your sentence was already signed.” He glares, his jaw tight.
“We are only out to recess, Captain.” You lock eyes with him, not wavering in the slightest. You can tell he’s trying to figure you out and you turn on your heel before he can get ahead of himself. There’s no point in spoiling the surprise you’ll have for him once you get your magick, your Quintessence, back.
Previously -- Next
i brought more of my dumb “birds of prey accidentally adopt red hood, because jason deserves nice things” au!
i REALLY need to read more BoP comics because a) badass superhero women hell yeah and b) there are some characters here i don’t know much about (Lady Black Hawk, for example.)
Oracle/Barbara "Babs" Gordon: Team Leader. Staying Oracle because disability representation, FUCK YOU DC. Take your magic cure and gtfo.
Black Canary/Dinah Lance: Field Leader. If they lose comms or can't contact Oracle, or if they just really need someone on the ground giving out instructions. However, this happens like... Maybe once every five years. Generally, Oracle's bird's eye view is more advantageous, plus they have some of the best tech there is.
Harley Quinn/Dr. Harleen "Harley" Quinzel
Poison Ivy/Dr. Pamela "Pam" Isley
Lady Blackhawk/Zinda Blake
Katana and Strix are both former members, they sometimes help with missions or just stop by to say hi.
Black Bat and Spoiler occasionally join the team for missions, and often hang out with Oracle. Bluebird, though retired, still occasionally hangs out with Oracle and the Batgirls. She’s very useful for tech/engineering consultation.
Batwoman also joins for missions and hangs out, just because Kate’s awesome.
Yeah I’m combining the Birds and Sirens, what about it. I want to watch these awesome ladies kick ass together.
Anyway, lots of hcs below!
Absolutely none of the Birds have any idea how this "we adopted Red Hood" thing happened at all, but it did. Jason has the least idea of any of them. However, he’s also attempted escape about 3 times and failed more dramatically each time and has officially given up on getting away.
There HAVE sometimes been dudes on the Birds of Prey canonically, so I'm not that out there with making Jason a sort-of member. But "sort-of" should be emphasized. Red Hood still more or less does his own thing. He's mostly just the team's annoying little brother.
Honestly I'm torn between two options: “FUCK YOU IM A FEMINIST ALL FEMALE TEAM I REFUSE TO MAKE HIM A FORMAL MEMBER” and “There's zillions of male-dominated superhero teams with a single token female and I'm inverting that for comedic purposes, but instead of him being a love interest he's just Really Really Annoying Little Brother”
When he does work with them, he's more likely to go undercover/infiltrate than anything else. Even if he is somehow compromised, people go "Red Hood found us!" not "the Birds of Prey found us!" which is useful.
I.e. Sometimes Barbara needs something done without an opponent linking it back to the team, so she'll just call Jason to take care of it.
BARBARA AND JASON SIBLING RELATIONSHIP
My ideal pre-Joker dynamic for them is Barbara constantly thinking “I love you but I am SO exasperated with you, you little shit” and Jason being the most annoying little brother EVER, and they basically just return to that
Somewhere in the background, Alfred is wiping away a single tear and Bruce is pretending he doesn’t care but his heart is swelling.)
Dick is the only member of the Batfam besides Bruce and Alfred who isn't confused as hell by how absolutely chaotic Babs and Jason's relationship is because when he visited he saw
Look, I understand that Barbara canonically can hold a hell of a grudge, but ALSO Barbara canonically recruited Ivy for the BoP. Yes, the situation with Jason is more personal, but I take the opinion that once Jason was doing better, Barbara would be willing to reconcile with him.
I should add that in my versions of the DCU, Jason only attacked Tim once, and it was primarily an attempt to bully/scare Tim out of being Robin. They fought and Jason wound up knocking him out in frustration, but there were no guns or knives involved. I'm in the "Jason Todd Does Not Hurt Children, Teen Titans #29 Is OOC, Canon Be Damned" party
Babs has a cat a la this brilliant art by @avataraandy just because I love the concept
If that link isn't working here's a reblog of the original
The cat is probably Selina's fault somehow tbh
Yes it sits on her keyboard all the time
I saw someone said it should be named Delphi and I really like that except I already named their base Delphi so??
Harley, Jason, and Barbara bonding over Joker-related trauma!!!
The Joker is never able to escape from Arkham for longer than two days anymore because the rest of the Birds of Prey will hunt him down and they will beat the shit out of him for what he did to those three
Sometimes those join in to three hunt him down too and then the asshole is completely screwed.
Everyone on this team is either chaotic or irresponsible and they keep enabling each other
Barbara on her own, or with the Batfamily? 100% responsible. More or less. Dinah on her own? Usually fine. Selina on her own? Meh, but probably fine. Probably.
With the others Birds? Nope. Harley and Jason are The Ultimate Enablers and that's the sole reason.
Bruce is going to die of a heart attack, seriously-
Dinah giving Jason a hard time about letting his emotions compromise his fighting ability and then training him (read: kicking his ass)
But also helping him overcome his trauma and counseling him because he deserves to heal
Dinah and Harley become the most unlikely duo in the name of forcing the rest of the team to confront their issues. It eventually backfires when Dinah tries to get Harley to confront her issues, and Harley fires straight back because really, everyone in this group has problems.
This is random but I love @apleye's siren designs so we're including those
The Birds of Prey's base is referred to as "Delphi" which is an "Oracle of Delphi" reference. It was Jason's idea. Barbara's immediate reaction was "that is so nerdy I love it."
One time the team actually winds up in Delphi for a mission and it screws with them the whole time.
Barbara is regret. She calls Jason to complain and he just tunes into their frequency and winds up laughing at them the entire instead of reading his book. He thinks it's hilarious. Barbara. Is. Regret.
Post-mission, they keep calling it Delphi and agree that if they end up anywhere near the real Delphi again, they'll instead call it "the base" until they're gone.
Jason cannot stop laughing.
The number of villains who have gone looking for Oracle on the actual island of Delphi is a little ridiculous. It's half the reason Babs agrees to keep the name. It's funny watching people run around.
Jason goes by “Phoenix” on those rare occasions he actually joins Birds of Prey missions for reasons other than recon. It was Babs’ idea. Came back from the dead, and all.
He uses a different identity because Red Hood and the Birds of Prey being separate entities works in their favor. Like I mentioned above, sometimes they need to avoid something being linked to the team, and Hood is useful for that.
Literally nobody realizes Phoenix and Red Hood are the same person because Red Hood is loud and brash and uses guns, whereas Phoenix is significantly less intimidating and doesn't really use weapons, mostly hand-to-hand. Red Hood wears combat boots, cargo pants, body armor, and a leather jacket; Phoenix wears something more like a loose bodysuit with a hood that looks more like the Orphan costume or League of Assassins gear. There's a full cloth facemask and goggles to hide his face and hair.
The Bats are alarmed to realize that Jason, who usually stomps around in combat boots, is completely silent when he wears anything that isn't heavy boots with reinforced metal soles.
Jason can be silent in the boots if he wants to be, it's just a lot of effort.
PRE-CRISIS REFERENCE! Natalia Knight (not Natalia Mitternatch; two different characters) sometimes shows up to a) mother Jason and b) occasionally work with the team. Kate is initially deeply suspicious given that Knight is the original Nocturna and the second Nocturna violated Kate, but then Knight turns out to be perfectly friendly. She's a villain but decent person who mostly just steals things and is against killing, but has proven willing to cross that line to protect her loved ones.
You can read @coolgirl's post summarizing her shared history with Jason here!
To quote another post of mine: Poison Ivy is an ecoterroist and not a seductress goddammit! Let her be a skilled biochemist and botanist! Let her be nerdy! Let her wear pants and flannel and straw hats like the farm girl she is at heart! Let her go from “destroy humanity” to “destroy factories that are illegally dumping waste and sure Batman doesn’t love it but she’s not actually killing much of anyone and they were ILLEGALLY dumping waste so he’s going to focus on bigger problems”! Let her be morally gray instead of evil from the get-go because she has totally understandable motives!
They're sapphos and they're in love and there's nothing anyone can do about it
Any of the rest of the team will fight anyone who makes a comment about it
Pam owns so many flannels. Harley steals them all the time. She's not the only member of the team that does so. Pam Flannels are The Best.
"Harles I love you but please stop stealing my shirts-"
Similarly, if anyone is dumb enough to make an ableist comment about Babs, the team will find out and they will fuck that person up. Usually the other Bats join in.
Jason jokingly calls Selina mom once and Selina cries. Jason is taken aback, but also touched that it means that much to her.
Selina spends most of her spare time reverse Indiana-Jones-ing artifacts, returning them to their proper cultures. Barbara helps.
Pam and Harley spend a lot of time blowing up factories dumping illegal waste.
Harley Quinn and Red Hood sometimes beat up abusers together, while Barbara gets the evidence to get them locked away.
Bruce is so, so tired. This team is going to be the death of him.
Selina loves him dearly, and is nonetheless totally okay with that.
First – Previously – AO3 Mirror
Chapter 44: Before You Crawl
You trace the ring in your hand before tucking it into your pocket. If Keith trusts it, then it can’t be that dangerous right? You shake your head and come up with an escape plan and peek your head out of your bedroom door. The guard posted outside of it turns to you curiously and gives you a polite nod when you smile at him.
“Is there something you needed, Your Highness?” He asks.
“Yeah actually. Could you send someone to bring me some tea? I’m having some difficulty sleeping.” You glance away, this weakness isn’t something that someone of your status should be admitting to.
“Of course, Your Highness! I’ll try to keep it as discreet as possible.” He nods empathetically. Sucker.
“Thank you so much. They can leave it on my coffee table. For now, I’m going to try and take a bath to see if it will help too.”
“Of course, Your Highness. It’ll be done.” He salutes you and you give him another smile and nod before slipping into your room. You take a quick breath and march back over to your bathroom.
You open the faucet for the tub and plug it up. The sound should be enough to convince the guard that you are making good on your words. You glance over your shoulder at the dark smudge in the mirror.
“You stay quiet about this, you hear?” The smudge does not acknowledge your words but that’s fine by you. You watch the water fill in the tub and turn the faucet off when there’s enough.
“No time like the present.” You murmur as you pull the ring out of your pocket. You take a deep breath and put it on over your ring finger.
Nothing feels different, much like it had been the last time you had put it on. You turn to face the mirror. You had been thinking it simply wouldn’t reflect you in it. You were not expecting the mirror to be blacked out completely. You reach for the glass but hesitate.
“Nope. Just get out and stick to the plan.” You shake your head. You open the door to your bathroom and wait for another moment. You can hear the soft murmurs of the guard outside your door and flinch back when it opens.
“Prince Lance? Your tea is here.” A maid calls out, gently setting the cup on the table as you had requested. She then is quick to scurry back for the door.
You follow right behind her, slipping out before the guard can finish pulling it closed. You stare at your guard as you back away slowly. He doesn’t acknowledge your presence and neither does the maid. You watch her give him a polite curtsy before she walks down the halls. You look down at your hands and back at the guard.
“Gotta stay focused.” You whisper.
You start to walk down the halls, sticking close to the walls when any guard passes by. You know that they can’t see you but instinct takes you over in those moments and you try to pull away.
“Am I doing the right thing?” You jolt and spin around to face the voice. The door behind you is cracked open ever so slightly and you creep closer to it.
“In the grand scheme of things? Or are you asking about something more specific, Your Majesty?” You peek inside and find Shiro pacing around the room while Ulaz sits looking positively bored.
“More specifically, I suppose.”
“Ah, one of these talks then.” Ulaz chuckles softly and motions for Shiro to sit with him.
“I am overdue for one aren’t I?” Shiro sighs but sits next to his advisor. “I was starting to think I’d be able to navigate my life better now.”
“I’d be out of a job if that were the case.”
“I’m sure there’d be something else you’d love to do here.”
“Amusing that you think I’d want to stay.” Ulaz smirks.
“Would you not?” Shiro presses his hand to his chest in faux shock. The pair laugh softly together and sit in silence for a moment longer.
“So tell me, Takashi, what is bothering you this fine evening?”
“Was it the right choice to bring Kolivan back?” He looks over at his advisor, though the conversation is being held in such a casual manner, calling Ulaz an advisor doesn’t fit right.
“You know better than anyone about Kolivan’s qualifications. His injuries are not debilitating and would not prevent him from completing any of his tasks.” Ulaz hums. “Of course, Kolivan is more of a, how do you put it politely… a hardass with rules so strict and a fist stronger than iron not even an emperor could get away with a game of jacks.” He shakes his head and Shiro laughs.
“Tell me how you really feel about him.”
“I’ve said my piece,” Ulaz waves his hand dismissively. “But my opinion of the man on a personal level does not detract from his impressive track record, nor should it sway your choice one way or another. You cannot keep Antok in charge and Regris is not ready to take the role yet.”
“And no one else is qualified.” Shiro hums and stares up at the ceiling.
You creep a bit closer to the door. You didn’t know that Regris had even been considered for the Captain’s position. You can’t help but wonder what kept him from the promotion. Was it entirely planned out and orchestrated by the Blades? Or was there an actual performance issue somewhere?
“None for what you are needing, unfortunately.” Ulaz looks over at him. You tilt your head curiously.
“I need someone who can help me seal whatever was broken that freed the Beast.” Shiro runs his hand through his hair.
“Kolivan has kept the Beast under control before, he can do it again.” You frown at Ulaz’s choice of words.
“I don’t want to control him,” Shiro looks over to him. “I want to keep Lance and Allura safe. Gods above know how much she must hate me right now.”
“What makes you believe that?” Ulaz raises a brow. You feel you shouldn’t be intruding any further but your feet are rooted to the spot.
“I’ve messed everything up. I’ve insulted her, humiliated her, endangered her and those she brought with her. Maybe this would all be easier if I didn’t like her so much.” He sighs.
“I feel you would have just as many complaints if you didn’t, if not more.”
“I -- I just… I want to be a good king to my people, our people. And… I want to be a good husband.” Shiro looks lost and it makes your stomach churn unhappily.
“You will be, Takashi.” Ulaz settles a kind hand over his shoulder.
“I don’t know about that anymore.”
You jump and whip around, looking for the source of the voice in your ear. You don’t see anyone nearby.
“Hello?” You whisper, praying your voice doesn’t betray your fear.
And he calls himself the King?
Just like his family before him.
Mixing his blood.
Yeah, it’s about high time you get away from here. You cover your ears and scurry down the halls.
“Nope, nope, nope.” You chant quietly to yourself as you move. When you feel far enough away from the voice, you uncover your ears and look around the hall. It’s empty, moonlight filtering in through the windows, casting everything in a pale light, and sconces crackling from their place on the walls.
You trace the shape of the ring on your finger. You want nothing more than to take it off right now, but there’s no guarantee that you won’t get caught. You press your hand to your chest and take a breath to calm your nerves.
You yelp but take the advice immediately. You run down the halls, not caring for one moment who you bump or brush against. You need out of this castle, you need Keith, you need to get this ring off .
“Leave me alone!” You stumble into the kitchen and slam the door shut. It’s as empty as the halls had been before.
I will always find you.
You rip the ring off your finger and barely restrain yourself from throwing it as far as possible. Hysteria crawls its way through your ribs and makes it hard for you to breathe. You run your hand through your hair and try to will your heart to slow down before it bursts out of your chest.
You look around the empty kitchen when you finally calm yourself down. The lights are all out, not even an oven is lit, leaving the place dark and cold. The windows are much smaller here compared to the ones out in the hallways. They barely illuminate the pots and pans hanging up on the walls and dangling from the ceiling.
You wrap your arms around yourself and peer in the shadowy nooks for Keith. His instructions led you down here after all.
“Where in the heck is he?” You whisper to yourself. A very large and cold hand settles on your waist. You cover your mouth to muffle your shriek as you whip around. Glowing golden eyes watch you curiously.
“You okay?” Keith, of course it’s Keith , asks you.
“Y-yeah. Sorry.” You sigh with relief.
“Were you caught?” He looks around the kitchen warily.
“What do you mean, ‘not exactly'?” He furrows his brows and turns his attention back to you. You lick your lips and show him the ring in your hand.
“I kept hearing this… voice while I was wearing it.” You tell him.
“Did you know who the voice belonged to?”
“No clue. Not someone I know that’s for sure.” You tuck the ring into your pocket. Out of sight, out of mind.
“Might have been a wandering spirit playing a prank on you.” Keith frowns. He doesn’t look like he totally believes his own words, but for the sake of your sanity, you put your full trust in them.
“Okay. Yeah, casual ,” You nod and run a hand through your hair.
“Right, you’re… not used to these sorts of things happening.” Keith chuckles.
“He says, like it’s normal.” You cross your arms and give him a look.
“It kinda is. My advice? Don’t mess with them and they usually won’t mess with you.”
“ Usually .” You groan and Keith shrugs in response. “So, how about those tunnels?” You ask with a weak laugh. He nods, handing you a paper, and then gently takes your free hand in his. You hold the paper close to your chest.
“This way.” He pulls you along with him, slipping out one of the side doors in the kitchen.
You know these halls are usually reserved for the house staff, leading to their quarters and their portion of the castle. Keith guides you through them with ease, a knowing gait to his steps showing how often he’d been in this area before. You wonder if he’d sneak through here before his curse, and while the question burns a hole in your tongue, you don’t voice it. Not when the risk of getting caught is so high.
Keith guides you down a flight of stairs and pulls you to a stop in front of the base. He lets go of your hand to walk over to the wall. You watch him press his fingers against a few bricks and shortly after there is a solid clunk underneath you.
“Might want to take a step back.” He tells you. You gladly take three of them. The spot where you were standing sinks into the ground before it slides to the left. You are fairly certain the grinding of stone against stone would alert anyone nearby and Keith seems to think the same. He’s quick to move down into the pit and you follow right after him, jogging down the small stairwell that had been uncovered.
He presses a new set of bricks and the opening slides shut once more, leaving you in total darkness. You reach your hands out in front of you, waving them around until you collide with cold, hard, stone.
“I’m right here.” He says, voice low in your ear. It shouldn’t send shivers down your spine but it absolutely does.
“It’s dark.” You tell him.
“I couldn’t tell,” You can hear the smirk in his voice. “One second.”
The lights above you flare brightly. You blink in the sudden change and take in the tunnel. It looks exactly like all the other ones you’ve been in before. You look up at Keith who is busy staring at some chicken scratch on the wall in front of the stairwell.
“What’s that?” You ask him.
“Oh, it’s like a sign. It says what’s in each direction.”
“I haven’t seen them before.” You murmur.
“I made these,” He tells you. “Mostly for my own reference. Since I can’t fit into all the tunnels anymore, it’s better that I know which ones I can travel through.”
“You don’t have them all memorized?” You raise a brow.
“I know the underground ones the best. Since, you know, the fire practically decimated the castle.” He shrugs.
“Right.” You wince.
“The ones in the castle are relatively newer and I haven’t felt the need to constantly go running around in here. It kind of makes the whole ‘stone at sunrise’ thing a little difficult.” He gestures for you to step closer to him.
“How difficult?” You ask curiously.
“Well, since the sun isn’t hitting me directly, it takes a lot longer to transition to stone and it’s not a pleasant sensation,” He frowns and shakes his head. “Paper?”
“Huh? Oh.” You hand him the paper he’d given to you earlier and he looks it over. He nods and offers it back to you. You give him a confused look.
“I wanted to make sure the spell was working properly.” He tells you, tapping the page. You look at the sheet and blink when you see lines tracing the path the two of you had taken, even registering the special brick taps that Keith had done to open the passage in the first place. You take it from him and hold it in front of you.
“Ready?” He asks.
“As I’ll ever be.” You tell him. Keith nods and starts down the hall to the right.
“We have to go down a few floors before we can make it to the underground. From there it’s a pretty straightforward shot to the chapel.” He tells you.
“And we can get to town from there?” You ask.
“There’s one that leads from the chapel, but it might have collapsed, so we’ll have to backtrack and find one of the alternatives if that’s the case.”
“How long is that going to take?”
“Depends on how lucky we are.” He murmurs, taking a left when he can.
“Well, lady luck owes us.” You follow beside him, watching the paper track your positions and mapping the area out.
Keith occasionally stops to check some faint scratches in the walls to ensure he’s going the right way. You don’t recall seeing them in any of the tunnel portions you’ve been in before, especially not with Shiro either. Keith already has to stoop low in the ones you’re traversing now, Gods above know how well he’d fit in the others.
He hops down into an opening and turns to look back up at you. You carefully climb down the ladder that he ignored.
“You know, these aren’t so bad when you have company.” You tell him as you feel his hand rest against your back, giving you support on the way down.
“There is a certain kind of thrill to it like this I suppose.” Keith chuckles. You step off the ladder and look up at him.
“A thrill, huh?” You raise an incriminating brow.
“I -- Well…” He glances away.
“Did you ever make out with someone in here?” You ask.
“No!” Keith answers immediately, face red.
“Did you want to?” You lean close to him and watch him sputter. You’ll be taking that as a yes then. You shake your head with a soft laugh before walking ahead of him. You don’t get very far before he catches up with you and resumes guiding you.
“Hmm?” His face is still bright red and he’s very pointedly looking anywhere but you.
“You said you know the tunnels like the back of your hand.”
“Did you actually sneak around that much?”
“...I did, yeah.” He frowns. “I’d even hide out in them to get away from everyone. After all, no one was supposed to know about them besides a select few.”
“Shiro… he wants to be a good King and a good husband…” You trail off, his words floating back up to you.
“I think he’s suited for his roles.”
“Is it hard?” You ask. Keith gestures to himself.
“Right,” You wince. “Sorry.”
“Even if I wasn’t though, I probably would have made a mess out of everything.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I did single-handedly ruin several alliances because of the princesses I was engaged to.” He shrugs. “That usually leads to potential wars, lower support, fewer trades, and so on and so forth.”
“Were you ever scared?”
“Of?” Keith hops down another pit on his right.
“Of having to be king.” You step down the ladder and ignore the way it creaks under your weight.
“Terrified,” Keith tells you as you turn around, stepping onto solid ground once more.
“Because you’d make a mess out of everything?”
“Because… I was going to have to hide who I was for the rest of my life, which I would spend with someone I had no intimate interest in. Godson, I didn’t even want to think about having to produce an heir either.” He shakes his head. It’s such a strange concept that Keith wouldn’t have been able to be with who he loved a thousand years ago when you can in this modern age.
“Aww, no kids?” You tease.
“Lance, I was a kid myself.”
“Yeah, that’s fair. But, what about now?”
“What?” He furrows his brows in confusion.
“Would you have kids now? There’s all kinds of ways a child could be brought into the family.” Keith sighs and travels further down the path.
“I don’t… have the head for that kind of question right now. Not when I’m doing something I swore I’d never do again.”
“...Sorry.” You mumble as you look down at the paper in your hands. You aren’t sure how much longer it’s going to take to get to the chapel or if there’s enough space to finish the map.
The silence that falls is overwhelming. Keith doesn’t check the markings as often as he had before. He pauses and overlooks one of the pits and you can see the gears turning behind his eyes. The muscle in his jaw flexes and you reach out and touch his cheek. He jolts and looks over at you, brief panic washed away by faux confidence.
“You okay?” You ask. He nods and steps onto the edge of the pit.
Unlike before, he doesn’t jump down into it. He clings onto the ledge as he shifts his legs out, dangling them into the dark. His wings move the best they can in the cramped confines of the tunnel as he leans forward. He lowers himself as much as possible before letting go and hitting the ground. You peer down and chew on your cheek.
There’s certainly a more earthy smell to it than the ones before. You must be getting close to the chapel. With a deep breath to settle your nerves, you scramble down the ladder and nearly bump into Keith. He’s staring straight ahead, but you know he’s not seeing anything. His hands ball up into fists and slowly relax. You settle your hand on his arm and he turns to you, eyes refocusing on the present.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” You don’t want to force him through this, you really don’t. He takes your hand in his. You give his knuckles a gentle squeeze.
“Are you sure?” He asks instead of responding.
“What do you mean?”
“You want a bright and happy future,” He sighs and starts walking, never letting you go. “I’ll make sure you have that at least. But… I’m not sure you can have that with me.”
“What are you talking about?” You can’t stop the hurt that leaks into your voice.
“Lance, you’re underground…” He gestures to the dirt walls that surround the two of you. “In what could very well be a dungeon, with a beast from a far away land.”
“I’ve never felt safer. I’m being escorted by the person I love, who is supporting me on this damned endeavor so I don’t end up lost or worse.” You step closer to him and hold his face in your hand.
“Nope. I don’t want to hear it.” You tap his lips. “We’re going to get my magick back, we’re going to break your curse, and we’re going to have a lovely winter wedding come next year.” You tell him.
“So soon?” He raises a brow.
“That’s why I said next year. That way Shiro and Allura have their celebration and we still get out red camellias and white carnations.” You know you got him when you see a warm smile spread out over his face. You lean up and press a kiss to his cheek and let your hand rest over his heart.
“So please, don’t give up on me, on us . I’m going to fix it. I’ll be strong and wise, and I’ll be a brave and fair King. I’ll be a good hus--” Keith cuts your promises short with a kiss to your lips. His hands settle on your waist and you can feel your knees getting weaker by the second.
“Save your proposal speech for when we get your magick back.” He whispers and you nod, breathless. “One step at a time here, okay?” He presses another kiss to your temple before offering you his hand once more.
“Gotta crawl before I walk?” You take his hand and let him lead you further into the dirt tunnel.
“Gotta move and stretch your wings before you fly.” He agrees.
This section looks awfully familiar to you. It’s confirmed when you pass by a few bones within the walls. You whine and Keith chuckles, pulling you closer to him and shielding you with his wing. The dirt floor gives way to concrete and you glance up to Keith.
“Here’s the chapel.” He gestures with a flick of his head. You walk over to the definitely familiar iron ladder and run your fingers over it.
“How do we get to town?” You ask him. He jumps and hauls himself up onto the semi-circular platform the ladder leads to. There isn’t enough room up there for the two of you that much is certain.
“We have to use a different part of the chapel.” He pushes the wall with ease and you wince at the sound of stone against stone. You quickly follow after him and watch him push the statuette back into place.
The chapel doesn’t feel nearly as bad as it had before, it almost feels tame and safe. Keith looks around, his brow furrowed.
“It feels… different.” He says.
“I don’t know.” He pulls his wings in tight against him as he walks slowly up the pews. You look over your shoulder at the door. Now that Keith has said it, anxiety gnaws at your gut. A deep sense of something bad coming your way that you cannot place.
“All I know is that something isn’t right.” Keith steps up to the altar.
“Are we being watched? Followed?” You turn to him. He doesn’t answer and his eyes scan the room.
“We should get going.” He says, shaking his head and waving you closer. You jog over to the altar with him and watch with curiosity.
“So what’s the plan here?”
“I’ve seen Haggar use this one before.” He murmurs to himself, crouching lowly to inspect the altar better. “I know I have, but it’s been a while.”
“I thought you weren’t supposed to be here?” You tease.
“And I snuck around a lot, nowhere was truly off-limits to me.” He smirks up at you.
“Except for, apparently, this tunnel in particular.”
“Oh hush,” He rolls his eyes. “Can you bring me one of those candles?” He gestures to the votives behind you. You nod and hesitantly pick one up for him.
“You actually need the light for this?” You hand it to him and lean over to watch what he’s doing.
“Not exactly.” He tells you, fire jumping to life on the candle.
“Then?” You ask. You catch the glint of metal underneath the altar and Keith gently pries it out. A small, shallow bowl pops out of the side with a creak. It too is smeared in dark red smudges that have your stomach churning.
“Please, please , tell me we’re not going to be doing what I think we’re going to be doing.” You whine.
“What do you think we’re doing?” He asks, brow raised and a hint of amusement in his eyes.
“No way.” He laughs and shakes his head. “Haggar might have been ostentatious but…” He tips the candle over, wax dripping steadily into the bowl. It slowly sinks down and you hear a soft clicking noise coming from it. When it pops, Keith rights the candle and dismisses the flame from it.
“It only needs a specific weight.” He tells you, rising back up onto his feet. He takes your hand and pulls you close to him, stepping up behind the altar and facing the pews. The ground beneath your feet groans and you tighten your grip on him as you start to sink into the earth. Something about the darkness below makes you want to panic and run.
“Easy,” Keith gently guides your face to look up at him. “Focus on me okay, Albastru?”
“There are a lot of echoes right here, spirits too, but don’t take your eyes off me and you’ll be okay.”
“Why what?” He tilts his head.
“Why are there so many?”
“...Do you really want to know that?” Keith asks. A part of you already knows the answer and needs to hear it from him. Another part wants to live in blissful ignorance.
“Yes.” Curiosity wins out again.
“Remember the mass grave? We’re going to be crossing through it.”
“Above us though… right?” You laugh softly. Keith shakes his head.
The ground stops moving and Keith pulls you off the platform quickly. He wraps his hand around an old and rusty lever, giving it a sharp tug and sending the platform back to the top.
“This way.” He tells you, lacing your fingers together. The platform clicks into place above you and cuts off any light you had.
“I can’t see.” You tell him.
“It’s for the best.” He says. You let him tug you along, the darkness threatening to swallow you whole.
“Can you please talk to me…?” It feels like a ridiculous request.
“We’re coming up on a door. You uh… might want to cover your nose.” He warns.
“That’s not comforting.” You tell him.
“Probably not, no.” He chuckles. You tuck your face into your shirt collar and wince when the door creaks open.
Even with your nose covered, you nearly gag from the smell alone. The smell of rot and decay thick in the air, even after centuries. Keith pulls you into the room and you stumble in. The door shuts behind you and you tighten your grip on his hand.
“I know dead bodies aren’t going to smell like roses but Gods above…” You whine.
“There’s some fresher ones in here.” He tells you.
“Mostly scavenger animals. They keep sniffing each other out down here and get trapped.”
“Oh gross.” You whine when something crunches under your feet.
“Rodent, don’t worry.”
“That doesn’t make it less gross.” You tell him. “Is there any light you can turn on?” You ask.
“The dead don’t need to see.” He tells you, quickly picking you up and setting you down in another place.
“Person,” He murmurs. “Best not to disturb them.”
“I’m so telling Hunk and Pidge to bring a light.”
“It’d be a good idea.” Keith agrees.
He guides you through the room, carefully lifting you over a stray body or two before he opens another door. You nearly weep at the light that comes in from it and dash to cross the threshold. Keith snags you by your collar before you get far.
“Careful, there’s traps!” He hisses, closing the door behind him. You look over your shoulder at him.
“Why is it a death threat to get through here?”
“Because these lead outside and intruders who don’t know the way need to be stopped?” Keith runs his hand along the wall and nods when he finds what he’s looking for.
He pulls you close to the wall, bracing his arm across your chest and forcing you to stand flat against it. He pushes the brick and you yelp when some giant mechanism swings down where you had once been.
“I hate it here.” You tell him, looking at the mechanism as it rocks back and forth, losing its momentum. Keith chuckles and walks down the hall, lighting up the sconces ahead.
He disables at least three more traps and guides you carefully along the edge of a spiked pit before he stands in front of a ladder with a triumphant grin. You look at it and back to him a few times.
“Is this it?”
“Yep.” He nods.
“Thank the Gods above.” You sigh with relief.
“Luck really did owe us.” He says, looking up at the platform above. He jumps and catches the ledge, hauling himself up and waiting for you.
“Was this part of the collapsed area?” You ask crawling up the ladder.
“It was. I could have sworn it was down.” A small frown tugs at his lips.
“Let’s get out of here before it changes its mind then?” You chuckle looking around the platform for the exit.
“Fair enough.” Keith nods. He pushes against a brick in the wall, a solid clunk echoing around before the ceiling above twists open. You watch it with awe wondering how, even after a thousand years, all the mechanics still work.
Keith waves you over to him and you are by his side instantly. He locks his fingers together and you nod, stepping into his palms. He boosts you up and you roll over the edge of the opening and onto a paved roadway. You make room for Keith as he jumps and pulls himself up once more.
You stand up, dusting your pants off, and take a look around. The entrance to the tunnel looks like a blooming flower. Keith gives one of its petals a gentle tap and the flower curls in on itself. When it finishes closing you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from any other patch of the road. You glance down at the paper and are relieved to see it makes the entrance very obvious.
“Can I see it?” Keith asks and you nod, passing it over to him. “I need to write out how to get into it.” He explains as you slowly spin yourself around, trying to figure out why this area seems so familiar.
You freeze up when you spot Kolivan’s shop behind you. There is smoke coming from behind the building, a light on in one of the windows, and your stomach twists painfully.
“This is a blacksmith.”
“It sure is.” He nods in agreement, gently folding the paper up and handing it back to you. Many questions swim to your tongue.
“Was it always?”
“Probably? I mean, it was when I was a kid. The building itself is a little newer but it wouldn’t surprise me if it still was.” He shrugs as he looks over the building.
“Kolivan works -- worked here.” You tell him. Keith frowns again.
“If the Blades know about this tunnel…”
“Hunk and Pidge need to be careful.” You murmur. You don’t want to think about the possibility of the Blades sneaking you in and out of the castle using the exact same path you two took.
“Can you find them from here?” He asks you.
“I think so.” You tear your eyes off the building and walk to a denser part of the town.
It’s eerily quiet at night. The town streets are empty and deserted, everyone asleep for the night. Moonlight illuminates the walkways you two take casting your shadows across the grounds. Most of the lights in the shops and homes are off, though there are a few night owls who are still working hard. You chew on your cheek as you quietly stalk through the streets with Keith right behind you, praying to all the deities you know to keep you hidden.
You try not to let it show how relieved you are when you start seeing buildings you recognize. It’s a matter of retracing your steps from the night of the festival when you find the stage Shiro had volunteered on.
“Are we getting closer?” Keith asks, looking over his shoulder. You don’t blame him for being antsy. Not only is he a feared creature of the night, but you are a prince walking around without any form of escort or guard.
“We should be.” You tell him with a reassuring grin. You at least hope it’s reassuring. It doesn’t take you much longer to find the area that Pidge had taken you to for their family. You chew on your cheek as you look at the buildings on the street.
“One of these has to be Pidge’s.” You tell Keith. “Could you uh… sniff ‘em out?” You joke. He rolls his eyes but squints at the houses.
“It should be this one.” Keith points one of them out. “Unless someone else is running around with that shade of green for their Quintessence.” He tells you. Your heart craves to see what you had before, longs for colors to swim around you.
“Alright, I got this.” You step closer to the house.
“How are you going to get them to come down?”
“Trust me, I’m going to use a tried and true method.” You give him a wink and turn your attention to the ground.
“What? You going to call for them to throw down their hair?” He crosses his arms, unimpressed.
“Pidge doesn’t have long enough hair for that.” You chuckle as you pick up a few pebbles.
“That’s the point.”
“Just watch.” You wave your hand dismissively. “Let a professional handle this.”
“I find it hard to believe that you’re a professional.” He chuckles. You throw one of the pebbles at the window that still has its light on, hoping it’s Pidge’s. You throw another when there’s no response with a click of your tongue.
“Oh hush you.” You hiss at him. The light in the bedroom clicks off and you groan.
“My turn?” Keith asks.
“What’s your plan?” You turn to him. Keith glances around once more before he approaches the house. He jumps, wings flapping hard to get him up into the air, and he lands on the roof. From there he leans over and drums his fingers over the window.
“Godson.” You find yourself looking about the streets while Keith taps away. The window bursts open and you flinch, turning your attention back to it.
Pidge leans out and looks at the roof, you can hear their soft gasp when they see Keith. They flip around and see you standing in the street. A manic grin spreads over their face. They close their window and Keith hops down from the roof, wings wrapping back around his shoulders.
The front door opens and Pidge steps out, bundled in a dark green cloak. They drag both you and Keith further from their home. They press another cloak into your arms.
“You stick out like a flamingo among pigeons in bright reds this late at night. Someone has to think ahead!” Pidge cuts your question off, gesturing for you to put the cloak over your shoulders.
“What about Keith?” You clasp it shut and pull it around your body.
“I’m clearly the lion amongst pigeons,” Keith says.
“Honestly, that’s fairly accurate.” Pidge nods.
“Take us to get Hunk?” You ask them.
“Yeah… Keith might have to hide out before we get close to Hunk’s. The people who live there are nosy as fuck and are the biggest snitches.”
“I…” You don’t like the idea of splitting up.
“It’s okay, Lance. I’ll hide out by the stage. At least then I’d look like a prop.” He shrugs.
“Sounds good to me.” Pidge nods.
“...Promise you’ll be okay?” You take his hand.
“Promise.” He agrees, leaning down and giving you a quick peck to your lips. You watch as he steps away and makes his way back to the stage you’d passed earlier. You turn to Pidge when you can no longer see him and catch them staring at you.
“You kissed.” They say.
“On the lips.”
“Sure did.” You nod.
“But that didn’t --”
“Hunk first, then I can explain. It’s… been a few hectic days.”
“You’re telling me!” They groan as they walk along a specific path. “Hunk and I kept trying to go to the castle for our lessons but they weren’t letting anyone in.”
“No one’s allowed in or out right now.” You confirm for them.
“We were worried something bad had happened.” They look over their shoulder at you.
“A very valid worry.” You nod, not wanting to tell them too much without Hunk present. They stop in the middle of the street and you nearly run into them.
“Can you at least tell me if you’re… okay? Hurt? Something?”
“I… I’m physically fine. For the most part.” You admit.
“I don’t like how you’re dodging…” They sigh and look up at the sky. “But… I’ll take it for now.”
“But you better give me and Hunk the full details.”
“Promise.” You cross your heart and they nod. They wave for you to follow them once more as they slip through a few back roads.
You recognize the smell of the baked goods before you do the buildings around you. Pidge crouches low to duck under one of the lit windows and you follow suit. They walk around to the side of the building and tuck themself close to the wall. They kneel by the basement window and you watch them tap a pattern on the windowpane. A few seconds later the taps are repeated back on the other side.
Pidge nods and gives you a thumbs up. They scurry back the way you’d come, ducking back under the lit window. Hunk steps out from the back of his place, glancing around nervously. He pauses when his gaze lands on you.
“Lance?” He asks in a hushed breath.
“In the flesh.” You nod. He rushes forward and scoops you up into a tight hug.
“Gods above I’m so happy to see you alive! We had heard that you had been missing!” Hunk whines and sets you down, his hands flitting over you and checking you for injuries. You glance over to Pidge who looks away innocently.
“I didn’t know that news made it past the walls.”
“I wanted to believe it wasn’t real.” Pidge shrugs.
“I honestly thought you had come here with a plan to look for him.” Hunk tells them.
“I was starting to think of one.” They admit.
“Aww, guys.” You look at them both. They care so much about you and it fills your chest with warmth.
“What happened to you?” Hunk asks.
“I’ll explain everything once we’re back with Keith.” You tell him. Pidge groans in response and you shrug apologetically.
“He’s at the stage that had the play we saw during the festival.” You tell Hunk.
“It’s not that far.” Hunk gives Pidge a look.
“He said he’d explain when we got here.” They pout.
“And in all honesty, Keith is probably going to want us to go to a different location before I even start to tell you everything.” You chuckle.
“Ugh!” They throw their arms up. Hunk shakes his head with a small smile.
“Let’s head out now, so we can get the information faster?” He offers them his hand.
“Yeah, yeah.” Pidge nods, taking his hand. You follow behind them, watching how they bump one another gently while they walk side by side.
“So…” You feel the wide smirk on your face.
“Not until we get to Keith,” Pidge tells you, sticking their tongue out.
“Rude.” You press a hand to your chest and pretend to swoon.
“It is fair.” Hunk points out.
“Wow, no support from you anymore?” You tease, patting his back to make sure he knows you’re not serious.
“Priorities have shifted a bit.” He admits.
“Hush!” Pidge squeaks.
“I could say the same thing. You’re louder than a damned thunderstorm.” Keith grumbles from his hiding place. He steps out from backstage before walking over to you three.
“We’re not that loud.” You say.
“I beg to differ.”
“You also have super hearing, so that shouldn’t count.” You cross your arms.
“Either way,” He shakes his head as he looks over your group. “We need to go somewhere else before we start talking.”
“Go where though?” Hunk asks.
“Yeah. It’s late, the only places that are even still open are taverns.” Pidge huffs.
“I don’t think a tavern is the best place for this…” You rub the back of your neck.
“The forest,” Keith says, wings flaring out as he scoops you into his arms. You let out a soft yelp at the sudden movement.
“You realize how far that is from here, right?” Pidge stares him down.
“Not to mention it is pretty big. How will we know what part to go to anyway?” Hunk asks.
“Who said anything about you walking there alone?” Keith shifts your weight until he has you balanced against him with one arm.
“Wait… are you implying…?” Pidge’s eyes widen. He lifts them into his other arm with ease.
“Might want to hold on.” He tells them. “Haven’t exactly done this with multiple passengers.” You quickly loop your arms around his neck and legs over his waist, taking his advice seriously.
“Uh…” Hunk watches you all warily.
“How do you plan on getting Hunk?” Pidge asks.
“Can he be on your back?”
“I don’t think that’d be a good idea.” Hunk starts to wring his wrists. “It sounds like I’d block his ability to move his wings.”
“I could ride on your back?” Pidge offers.
“No need,” Keith tells them, moving them to the arm you’re in. He makes sure they’re securely pressed against him before he steps closer to Hunk. Hunk gasps when Keith picks him up as well, and he throws his arms and legs around Keith like you have.
“I uh… haven’t been picked up before?” He lets out a giddy laugh that borders on hysteria.
“Is this safe?” Pidge asks Keith.
“We’re not going far.” He responds with, completely ignoring the question. He runs down the empty streets and gets the three of you airborne, Hunk and Pidge screaming the whole way.
Previously -- Next
I. AM. IN. MY. KLANCE. FEEEELS.
tommy figured out you can swear in whispers KSJDSKJDDK
GRIAN BETTER WIN
Still stuck in 90s 00s Tour de France hell, and just noticed...
It's Lance Armstrong's birthday today.
Happy Birthday to the old tourminator.
i love when wilbur gushes abt grian ajdjskdj
ace race x sally the salmon only superior ship
"what are you doing in my woman philza" WIL??
Amazing news: our shipping mod started sending out the pdfs and some of the packages already! You will receive either your order (in case you bought the digital version) over email or a tracking number when your physical order is on it's way! ❤️💙💐 We hope everything arrives well and is to your liking ☺️❤️💙 And in case you missed the first sale you can get the digital zine + NSFW zine in our shop! ✨💐
via Justin’s IG Story on 9.16.21
empires smp vs dream smp