He uncurls his fingers and looks at the remnants of the cup. Water spills onto the floor and wets the metal plates of his right rand, dewing into tiny droplets wherever it contacts the hydrophobic material of the prosthetic.
He closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath. He just needs to be more careful. That’s why he’s practicing with simple things like drinking water, right? Just being careful.
The broken cup and the water are soon cleaned up and resting on the counter, thankfully with no more accidents, when he hears movement behind him. Fight, his body automatically says, without his permission. Kill. Injure. Incapacitate. His right hand tightens into a fist before he can think, and all the ways to kill an opponent without a weapon scroll this his mind with calm efficiency.
You don’t need a weapon. You are a weapon.
“Shiro? Is everything alright?”
No, god, why did it have to be her? “Fine,” he says, controlling his breathing. Shame washes over him when he looks over his shoulder at Allura—big eyes filled with gentle concern. She’s good, he tells himself. He doesn’t ever need to defend himself from her.
“I heard a—ah, yes, the cup,” she continues, looking at the counter where he’s left his mess.
“An accident,” he says quickly. “I’m fine.”
“You look pale—well, more pale than usual.” Her head cocks. “You are certain you’re alright?”
“Yeah—yes, I’m fine. Just getting a drink of water.”
“On your hand,” she teases, a small smile playing at her lips.
He allows himself to return the expression and relaxes a little. “And the floor.”
“I break the cups sometimes,” she confides, moving further into the kitchen. It’s late, and the other Paladins are asleep, but he can’t shake the habit of sleeping in short shifts yet, and he hasn’t ever seen Allura so much as sit down, so they have the mess to themselves. “And forks. On one occasion I broke a chair, but that was a few years ago—well, ten thousand and a few years ago,” she adds. She hides the sadness well, but he can hear the soft edge of it in her voice. He wants to comfort her, tell her that he knows what it feels like to lose parts of yourself to time. He wants to place a hand on her shoulder and draw her in, if only to just remember what it’s like to hold someone.
“Still figuring it out myself,” he responds instead, flexing his right hand. “When I’m fighting I don’t really think about it, but off-duty—it’s more difficult to control.”
She nods. “Most Alteans go through periods where their minds haven’t caught up to their bodies yet—usually as young children—and they break a lot of things before they learn to master their own strength.”
He nods and looks down at his arm. “I sympathise.”
“But you’re doing well, Shiro,” she says, her voice lowering to almost a whisper, and he resists the urge to lean in closed to hear her. “The Galra gave you a weapon and you’re using it for good. That’s not an easy thing.”
“I don’t think drinking water will help save the universe,” he mutters, and to his delight she gives a soft, musical laugh that he wants to listen to for hours.
“Perhaps,” she concedes with a smile. “But it’s teaching you how to be gentle, and that’s a good thing, don’t you think?”
She’s gotten closer to him, closer than any person has gotten in a long time. He swallows hard and looks away from her. She’s not doing it on purpose, he tells himself.
“Yeah,” he says, in the same low voice, and her eyes crinkle in happiness. “Yeah, it’s a start.”