finch: what if u named it after dad? roxie: dove? i don’t think th- finch: no, other dad! roxie: ..i don’t think so finch: c’mooon! i know u hate him or whatever but it’d be cute! why r u still so bitter! roxie: it’s.. not that easy finch. what about a flower name or something finch: ughh thats so boring
EDIT: This is the fixed version! It should hopefully sound a little more smooth.
(I have realized I have a thing for Shiro carrying Keith bridal-style and I love it.)
Note: This AU takes place ten years after the paladins return to Earth.
every year, in shiro’s hometown, there’s a fourth of july parade.
he used to go to it every time, as a kid. it was loud and bright and colorful, and there would always be fireworks at the end.
these past ten years, it’s been a little bit different. ever since the paladins won the intergalactic war, as it has come to be called, there has been a parade every september to celebrate the day that the evil was finally defeated.
everyone is calling it “paladins’ day”, and every country on earth recognizes it.
after the paladins came home, it was chaos. they were in demand across the globe. heck, they were in demand across the galaxy.
the first eight or nine years, they had traveled from planet to planet while the people held festivals in their name. but making the rounds every year got tiring, and after nine years of touring the universe, the paladins decided to stay home for the year.
people were disappointed, but they seemed to understand - being a paladin was tiring, even after the fighting was over.
the paladins had been dispersed for years now. lance was living in cuba. pidge and matt were back with their family. the last they heard of hunk was that he had flown back to the balmera to visit shay, as he sometimes did. but keith, having no home to return to, went to live with shiro.
for the first time, shiro didn’t have to be in the parade.
but that didn’t stop him from wanting to watch it.
when he first shared the idea with keith, he was adamantly opposed to it, mainly on the grounds that people would clearly recognize them as the paladins and want to congratulate them. keith wanted no part of being the center of attention after nine years of parades and festivals.
but shiro has an idea.
the way shiro grins with excitement makes keith snort with laughter.
“shiro, that is the worst idea you’ve ever had.”
but keith can’t say no to shiro. it’s been one of his weaknesses for years.
okay, so disguises is a bit of an exaggeration. what really happens is that shiro wears a sweatshirt with the hood up to cover his prosthetic arm and the unmistakable scar over the bridge of his nose.
keith, who has long since trimmed his distinctive mullet, wears the glasses he only puts on once in a while and a sweatshirt for good measure.
once shiro was satisfied that no one would recognize the two unless they were looking closely, they head out. since the parade isn’t far from where shiro lives, they just grab some lawn chairs and decide to walk it.
the parade goes down the main street in the town, and most people go out and sit along the parade route. it starts at 6 p.m., just as the sun is about to start setting. the evening is breezy, and keith knows it will turn into a chilly night.
as a precaution, they sit a little bit behind the other people, somewhere close enough to see the action but far enough away that they wouldn’t be discovered.
as the parade is just starting, shiro mentions, out of the blue, that he brought popsicles.
“shiro, it’s only sixty degrees out. why would you bring popsicles?”
he begins to gesture wildly, as if he couldn’t understand why keith was so confused. “because, it’s a tradition! every time we went to the fourth of july parade, back when i was young, we had popsicles!”
keith, startled by shiro’s outburst of excitement, puts his hands up in a placating gesture, nods, and accepts the red popsicle shiro offers him.
for a while, the pair sits and enjoys popsicles, watching the progression of floats and balloons and bands march by. the lights and the noise and the color aren’t quite as vibrant and lively as the first and second years of the celebrations, but they are still a sight to see. the setting sun creates an atmosphere of fun and activity and music, and though keith doesn’t really like children, he has to admit that watching them run up and down the street is endearing, in a way.
it’s late in september, and as the sun sinks down the horizon the night begins to get colder. but keith, stubborn as he is, still eats an entire popsicle, temperature be damned.
he begins to regret his decision when he starts to shiver. at first, he learns that if he curls his feet underneath him and hugs his knees to his chest, he can deal with the cold. but when that stops working, he does what he always does when he gets cold.
keith gets out of his chair and pulls it closer to shiro’s, close enough that he can lean over the two arms and rest his head on shiro’s shoulder.
shiro leans in to keith, noticing that he’s shivering slightly, and puts his arm around his torso.
together, they watch as children play with tiny balloon versions of voltron, marching bands playing enthusiastically in the background. dance groups do flips down the street. some of the younger children still dress up, swinging plastic swords and shouting “form voltron!”
shiro caught keith’s attention again when he pointed at a swarm of balloons that escaped someone’s hands: black, red, green, blue, yellow. the black and red balloons, tangled slightly at the strings, flew into the sky together.
“look, keith,” shiro murmured, ”it’s us.”
keith’s eyes followed his finger and he laughed softly into the setting sun.
the fireworks couldn’t start until it was dark out, of course, so once the last floats in the parade had passed by them it would about 40 minutes before the fireworks began to blast off.
since the fireworks were being shot from the local football field, everybody made their way down to that end of the town to get the best spots to see the fireworks.
the loud noises could be a bit triggering to shiro if he sat too close to them, as he discovered the hard way during his first year back on earth. now that he was older, they weren’t as bad, but he still preferred to keep a bit of distance between himself and the explosions.
so they sit away from the field, careful again to distance themselves from the rest of the people. they find a bit of a hill to sit on, under a sturdy oak tree to keep them in the shadows.
shiro, always the prepared one, brought a blanket for the two of them to sit on, or under. keith, without a care for the rest of the world, relaxes with his back against shiro’s chest and throws the blanket over them both.
when the sky is finally dark and the stars sparkle clearly, shiro knows it’s time. when the first fireworks go off, people cheer.
most of them are in the paladins’ colors: green, red, blue, and yellow (occasionally they’ll add a purple for allura or an orange for coran). occasionally, a cool one will pop up that makes a shape, like the “v” that adorned their paladin armor. shiro will point those out to keith, even though keith can see them perfectly fine.
when keith turns to look into shiro’s eyes, shiro looks like he’s eight years old again. before the garrison, before kerberos, before voltron.
it is one of shiro’s rare vulnerable moments, when he has let all of his walls down and keith can see who he really is.
one of the things he’s learned about shiro after dating him for years is that he has built up so many layers that it’s hard to find the real shiro underneath them. on the outside, he’s a leader. he’s strong, decisive, thoughtful, and patient. but underneath the leader he presents to most people are layers of fear, regret, anxiety, doubt, and pain.
he thinks through every step before he makes it. most people think that’s just because he’s a logical person, but keith knows better. keith knows that it’s because one wrong move can bring everything crashing down around you, and that shiro has learned that from experience.
but ever since he’s started dating shiro, he’s gotten to see what’s beneath the layers: someone who is fun-loving, and gentle, and kind. someone who loves to laugh. someone who enjoys simple pleasures like going to the beach, and seeing the sunset, and dancing in the summer rain, and watching fireworks.
sure, it has taken work by both of them to battle their way through the layers. it’s led to more than one fight in the past. it’s led to tears, and yelling, and 2 a.m. arguments. but when keith looks into shiro’s eyes tonight, he knows that every tear was worth it.
this is the man keith fell in love with ten years ago.
keith, not wanting to ruin the moment they’ve made for themselves, presses his face into shiro’s sweatshirt and smiles softly.
certain that the shadows would hide them from prying eyes, shiro kisses him on the forehead. keith mumbles something soft and incoherent, and shiro pulls him closer.
shiro can tell by the end of the fireworks that keith has drifted off into sleep, so he tries not to wake him as he gingerly sits up. he rolls up the blanket and fits it back into the bag he brought. however, the action makes his boyfriend stir and look at shiro with sleep still in his eyes.
“the fireworks are over, love. you ready to go home?” shiro asks.
keith yawns in response and lets shiro help him to his feet.
the walk home, at first, is crowded with people who are doing the same as they - walking home. but once they get off of the main streets, it’s not nearly as bad.
about three-quarters of the way there, keith starts to fall behind, the sleep catching up to him faster than he can walk. shiro stops, readjusting the things he’s carrying.
“come here,” he says to keith. the smaller man obeys, too tired to protest.
shiro picks him up in both arms, only realizing just how tired keith is when his eyes start to flutter closed. keith lets his head fall against shiro’s chest, whispering a barely-audible “thanks”.
keith is out within thirty seconds, but shiro doesn’t mind. he carries keith the rest of the way home, gentle as he would always be with his boyfriend, allowing the moon to light the way as stray fireworks pop in the distance.
shiro struggles a bit to unlock the front door, considering his lack of free hands, but eventually keys it open. with a sleeping keith kogane still in his arms, he sets everything down on the living room couch, deciding to deal with it tomorrow.
he brings keith to bed, briefly wondering whether to wake him up to change or just leave him be. shiro opts for the second choice, figuring that keith would be too far gone to really care about his clothes anyways. shiro crashes and burns, exhausted, next to him.
he finds it a little ironic that he enjoyed watching the parade more than being in it.
or, maybe he just enjoyed being with keith.
he’s pretty sure it’s the second one, but he doesn’t get much time to think about it before he’s fast asleep, dreaming about fireworks and popsicles and black and red balloons.