Am I Beautiful?
No one knew why Lance wore a mask; they just accepted the fact that he did. He had been wearing the mask since they first met him at the Garrison. It just became a part of him; if the officials at the Garrison had no problem with it, then why should they? Which brings us to the next point; when they said mask, they didn’t mean an imaginary mask that concealed his real emotions or feelings; they meant a physical mask, snow white with only tiny blank eye holes and a straight line for a mouth. It wasn’t like the team didn’t give Lance the space he deserved, he probably experienced something if wearing a mask was his only option, but you have to admit that most people would be drowning in curiosity too. No matter what anyone did, they never were able to find Lance without his mask on, so they let him be. That is until they weren’t able to avoid it anymore.
They knew that eventually, the mask would have to come off; whether it be by the boy’s own will, a mistake during training, or a curious teammate pulling it off. What they didn’t expect was a Galra’s fist cracking through his helmet’s visor and mask splitting it down the middle, while infiltrating a small Galran outpost. Before Keith and Hunk could catch a glimpse, Lance’s hand shot up pressing both halves into his face, the other shooting the Galra in the gut effectively taking him down. Without further comment, he started making his way back to the lions, the sound of Pidge’s voice confirming that they got all the available information downloaded to the Castle. The two other paladins glanced at each other for a second before quickly following Lance down the way they came.
“Guys, is everything okay? We heard something shatter,” Shiro asked from the coms.
“We’re good, a Galra got Lance in the face, his visor and mask are cracked,” Keith replied after he realized that Lance wasn’t going to answer.
“WHAT! Lance doesn’t have a mask on!?” Pidge screeched in their ears. “Ohh, this is so good,” she giggled. Keith and Hunk saw Lance’s shoulders draw up towards his ears.
“I still have my mask Pidge,” Lance muttered.
“Aww, I thought I was finally going to see your face,” she replied, you could practically see the pout in her voice. Lance only laughed bitterly in response.
“Trust me, you really wouldn’t want to,” his shoulders slumped down weakly. The silence was thick as they boarded the lions and took off toward the Castle. The coms crackled to life and Shiro’s voice drifted through Lance’s ear.
“Lance… what did you mean when you said we wouldn’t want to see your face?” Lance let out a sigh, pulling the mask shards away from his face after making sure his face camera was off.
“I.. because, I’m ugly,” he mumbled. “My family put this mask over my face because they said that I was hideous, and I don’t deserve to be seen,” He raked a hand through his hair. “I’ve been wearing this mask since I was a little kid, I’ve never even looked in a mirror,” he admitted.
“Your family is full of crap Lance!” Pidge yelled over the line. Lance flinched back from the voice and squeezed his eyes tightly. He nervously rung his hands together in front of him, when did they start shaking?
“I know,” he said a tremor in his voice. “I’m scared you’ll hate me though,”
A mix of disapproving sounds rung out from the coms as his teammates tried to reassure the blue paladin. Lance angrily swiped at his eyes, tears of stress leaking from the corners of his eyes.
“Do you really think so lowly of us?” Shiro’s voice asked making the others go silent. Lance let out a gasp and his hand fell limply to the side as he tried to understand what or why Shiro asked that question.
“Of course not! I could never think lowly of you guys,” he whimpered out. “It’s me, it’s always just been me,” His lips trembled as he shut his mouth to try and stop the sobs that were beginning to crawl up his throat.
“Do you think I’m ugly Lance?” Shiro asked quietly. “Because I think I am, I think that there was too much of me taken away to ever be beautiful again,”
“You’re not ugly Shiro; you’re a hero, you’re kind and brave, someone like you could never be ugly!” He responded adamantly. “Your scars prove what you’ve been through, they prove that you were strong enough to overcome the Galra, even when they took so much from you; don’t ever say that you’re ugly because you’re not!”
“Do you think I’m ugly?” Hunk asked a moment later. “I’m fat and cowardly, I would rather run than fight, I don’t think that I’m beautiful,”
“You are beautiful Hunk! You’re strong when others are weak, you never back out of a fight when you get into it, you’re smart and generous, and you give the best hugs,” Lance cried; not believing what he was hearing from his teammates. “You make others feel good when you’re around, you’re able to cheer anybody up when they’re feeling down; calling you ugly would be like calling the Sun itself ugly, which is impossible,”
“Well, do you think I’m ugly?” Pidge asked. “I’m rude, condescending, and I can’t decide whether I’m a boy or a girl, I haven’t felt beautiful for a long time,”
“Being rude is in your nature, it’s endearing,” Lance pulled his knees towards him and pressed his forehead into his knees. “It never mattered if you were a boy or a girl, whats outside doesn’t matter because you are encouraging, a genius, and incredibly brave; you put everything on the line to try and rescue your family, no one could ever call that ugly,”
“Am I ugly?” Keith’s voice whispered. “We’re rivals, I have a bad temper, and I don’t follow orders; not to mention the fact that I’m the enemy, I don’t even deserve to be beautiful,”
“Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, especially you Keith,” He sniffed as tears continued to flow down his cheeks. “The Galra side of you makes you who you are; the successful, determined and sometimes temperamental parts of you are what make you so beautiful; because even though you found out this new version of you, you didn’t let it control who you are, or who you were going to become,” Minutes passed in silence aside from the sound of Lance’s quiet sobs and small sniffles.
“So if you’re able to overcome what we find ugly in ourselves, why do you think we can’t overcome what you find ugly in yourself?” Shiro asked seriously. Lance looked down at the white shards in his hands and swallowed.
“I don’t know,” he choked out. He startled when he looked up and saw the Castle in front of him, and he realized that Blue must’ve been flying autopilot.
“No matter what you look like, we will love you,” Shiro reassured. “We won’t force you either, we can have Coran make you a new mask if you’re not ready,” Lance sucked in a breath at the new option. The other paladins waited with baited breath as he made his decision.
“No, I want you to see what I look like,” he replied quietly. The others smiled at each other and started heading toward the Blue Lion’s hanger. The waited patiently outside the Lion as Lance tried to work up the courage inside. Finally, the ramp descended with Lance, who was holding up the shards of the mask in front of his face. He carefully stepped forward in front of his teammates. The pieces of the mask were noticeably trembling in his hands and they could tell that he was trying in vain to stop the shaking.
“I’ve been crying, so I might look even worse,” he mentioned.
“It’s okay Lance, we understand,” Hunk smiled gently. Lance nodded silently before sucking in a deep breath and exhaling. He slowly lowered the pieces and tried to gauge the reactions of his friends. He bit his bottom lip when they didn’t say anything, and just stared intently.
“Oh god, is it bad?” He asked running a hand down the side of his face. Shiro shook his head and came closer.
“No Lance, no I think we just expected something different,” he replied putting his hand on Lance’s shoulder.
“What do you mean?” He asked confused.
“Why don’t you look for yourself?” Shiro asked guiding him to the console in the hanger and pulled up the video screen. Lance’s eyes widened as he ran his hand over his face. Over his left eye was a large patch of pale peachy skin, and the eye itself was a light sky blue compared to his other ocean blue eye. He tried to make out any other imperfections on his skin but was unable to find any others. He stepped away from the camera and turned to the leader.
“This is what my family wanted to hide from the world?” He asked no one particular. “I’ve lived my life behind a mask for that?” He cursed himself as tears once again started swimming in his eyes. He let out a breath of air as he was engulfed in a hug by the Black Paladin, followed closely by everyone else.
“They couldn’t appreciate your real beauty, but we will,” Hunk smiled. Many approvals and agreements rang out from their group hug. He let a grateful smile spread across his face as he realized that; while he left a lot of people behind on Earth, he found the most important ones to him, in space.