rough rock

5

“How to wake your Father: Konoha version”

A big “THANK YOU” to Himawari and Boruto Uzumaki for inspiring me :)

* The sound of progressive metal fills you with determination.

Skies of Water; Ocean of Air

Here’s a little (long) fanfic/wingfic I wrote. Today… I have way too much time on my hands honestly. I swear to god. Either way! Enjoy the minor Shklance! Enjoy the Langst! And mostly! Please enjoy my shitty writing abilities!

Lance knew from a young age that he was different. Even with no one to guide him or explain it to him he knew. Maybe it was extinct. Maybe it was in the way people skirted around him. Or in the way he saw things as a child. He had always been a little different in a way. And not just the physical signs, but in himself as a person as well. The way he saw the world was a lot bigger than how his siblings saw it. He saw more than just the skies and a land to look down upon. He saw the oceans they couldn’t swim in, full of gorgeous fish and beautiful vibrant colors no paint could ever match, the mountains they didn’t bother to climb, seeing the view from a bright side, with the rust colored dust of the earth staining his clawed hands, saw the skitter of wildlife in a forest too thick with trees to move around in, the sight they ignored because they couldn’t grasp a place where the sky was not seen and the wind was silent for the sounds of nature singing. Lance saw the world with a different view.

Not everyone liked that view.

The way their words would sting him, lash out at him like a poisoned whip reminded him of that without them having to out rightly state it. Leaving marks much farther than skin deep on his young mind. Their backs, always turned away from him, shunning him away from where he wanted to be in their family. The way their wings would always taunt him. Show him the life he couldn’t have. The beauty he’d never have. The love he’d never feel. Not even the woman who breathed life into him could love the way he saw the world. The only love he could feel was in the hidden alcoves of the ocean. Small shelters carved through the years by the sea itself.

In a way, Lance connected with the ocean. The ocean was so old, wise, and strong, different from the free, young sky. So liberal and wild in youth. Innocent in its fast winds. Lance was young, weak, but no long naive nor innocent like the sky. He was jaded like the ocean in his eyes and on the horizon. Balancing between two worlds. One which was his own by blood, and another which was his own by outcast and adopted love. The sky rejected him. But the ocean called to him. Blue waves with cutting forces were terrifying, like their voices, like their fists raised in disgusted fury. But the teal lapping waters were also a calm reassurance, isolated. And when Lance’s head would submerge. He would not be afraid. He didn’t have to be afraid of the water over his head. There were no feathers to get wet and weigh him down like dead weights He could open his eyes, and see the fish flying through the new world. The land was just an ocean of air after all. If Lance didn’t have wings to fly, then he could have a sky of water to swim.

The ocean was calling his name. A name they never gave him. A name that was his own.

Lance…

Not a single person could take that away from him.

That made him strong. Many thought wingless would always be weak, they couldn’t fight, couldn’t gain strength with wings they were not gifted with. Couldn’t compete. Couldn’t survive in the world without feathers and blood on their back. But the ocean made him strong. The currents would spar against him, like head strong winds for his arms and legs. Flying underwater. The rocks in the ocean would test him. Sharping the claws of his hands. Teaching him to climb higher and reach for the sky in ways that those he knew would not think of. Would look at with disgust.

Just because he didn’t have wings didn’t mean he didn’t know the world. Lance probably knew more of it than anyone with wings. He felt the sting of wind in his face, the heights of a large mountain he’d conquered through reaching claws and hard effort. But he’d also felt the sting of ocean water on his face. Warm lapping salt water, reaching for him. Like it was calling him to come home to it. Once and for all.

The sky was their home. The shores and the ocean was his home.

Now, however, he was far away from his home.

He wanted to go home.

Lance sighed, looking at the soft pliant skin on his hands from the rafters of the castle. The way their shifted from soft skin, to hard claws without Lance even blinking. It had hurt the first time. But, now it was instinct. All good things had to hurt, right? Bad things hurt too he guessed however.

Long cold nights away from a happy nest. Watching them fly together with bright smiles, as if they were urging him to join them in the happy games. But he could not join them. He never told them. And they never asked anything different. It was assumed.

Lance was assumed to have wings like them.

Assumed to just be shy with his wings.

Assumed to be a loner.

Rather than asked.

It was alright thought, they weren’t far off from assuming that he preferred to be alone. Honestly, he did prefer the quiet nights. But these weren’t quiet nights. Nights in a place with no pool, no water, no sand. These were just lonely nights. Nights away from the one place he could forever call home.

He missed the rock walls, rough against his skin. The way it would vibrate on stormy nights when his family would and lock him out of the house. Protect him from the rampaging clouds and crashing thunder. The way the water would splash up against his ankles. Cold in the storms, but cold in the best ways. The sea foam tickling his tan skin. He missed the slight burn and tingle of salt water on his skin. The way the water would look when the storm would break, the silver moon light and peace the cold waves would bring to him. The ocean was old, yet full of vigor. It could’ve kill Lance without thought when he was smaller, yet it didn’t. The moons pull on the waves of the ocean, sparing his wide eyes full of wonder, and showing him a new world, a home. Letting Lance see the way the sun would rise over the ocean. Glimmering red, yellow, and orange on the waves of a warming blue sea. Glittering and beautiful in a way that no one ever stopped to appreciate. The sea let Lance appreciate its beauty, let him watch night after day and after another night. Let him live to breathe the salt in the sky of dark blue tides. The smell of salt on the breeze. No one liked the ocean. Like no one liked the real Lance.

He missed the ocean.

He still heard it’s call.

Beckoning him home.

A presence to his side jolted Lance out of his thoughts, turning his long and sharp salt stained claws back into smooth flawless skin and fingers as Lance twisted his body. Greeting the new person with a wide smile. The leader of their impromptu flock, Shiro.

Honestly speaking Shiro really was a sight to behold, and even with the hopelessness that accompanied seeing such majestic wings, Lance’s smile was real. Because with Lance’s view of the world. Even in pain and in hiding. He still saw the big world and everything in it as beautiful. Including Shiro with his broad body and even sturdier wings. Darker than the night sky with flecks of white. No midnight blues however. The ocean wasn’t in anyone’s wings. Just his own eyes. Shiro’s eyes were battle hardened, but still kind. And his smile was gentle. Like the nudging of the schools of fish that would nibble at his skin, brush their scales against his fingertips as they dared to get closer to the familiar being. Shiro smiled just like that this time.

“Hey Lance, we missed you preening yesterday, and flying today. Are you feeling alright?” Lance smiled. Assumptions. As-sump-tions. Such a simple word. With so much meaning. So much ability to alter and change a person’s view. Lance never assumed anything. Then again, he also assumed everything. He had a different view of the word.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just relaxing.” Shiro’s wings fluttered, an obvious show of unsettlement or awkwardness. As if Shiro was trying to build up courage to ask the withdrawn flock member something. Lance watched. Even without wings Lance could read the emotions displayed on others. He had to learn how to read people to avoid their worse moods normally. Wings were how people told emotions from other people, being the most obvious sign of body language. Lance could read moods well. Seeing his sister shift from calm, to annoy at just the mere sound of his breath. His father turn from pride to rage at a single speck of his existence. Being the outlet of anger was normal for him. Taught him many things in life, but sometimes even Lance knew that he had to escape and wait. Sometimes Lance would disappear to the ocean for weeks at a time. Only coming home so that he wouldn’t be deemed a ‘flight risk’. Heh. A flightless flight risk. Wasn’t there a joke in that somewhere?

           Maybe that’s why people were so wary and awkward with him before they knew. Most people kept their wings out to show emotion. Most people couldn’t tell emotion without seeing someone’s wings. Lance was probably a husk to them. Emotionless. Like the porcelain mask of a doll. Not showing off your wings meant discomfort, distrust in your surroundings. Lance was probably just one giant enigma to them. A hard shell that didn’t look one second closer to opening up then when they had begun to form a flock in space so long ago.

           At least Lance could make them assume he had wings. Using his claws and climbing skills to reach high places. Climbing wasn’t a well-known or practiced skill after all. Lance hadn’t even known it had a name until he found an old history book from before humans had formed wings. When Lance could’ve been considered normal. So even if they didn’t see his wings, they’d see him lazily resting in the rafters and assume he’d gone up there to stare at the stars and enjoy the silence as he often did. The clearing of Shiro’s thought gathered Lance’s wondering thoughts again. Making Lance look at him with those wide eyes that had Shiro lost.

           To Shiro they were like the deepest galaxy imaginable. Dark blues and light blues, white and black. Swirling. With ferocity and gentleness. Like the ocean Lance always described. Lance’s eyes were like both their homes. Shiro’s home in Lance was the night sky. Lance’s, the reflection of the only home he ever loved.

           “Lance, why don’t you come fly with me? We could go to my nest if you’d like? You probably could use a good preening, I could help if you’d like? Straighten out your feathers while we watch some old movies?” Lance gave Shiro another ambiguous smile. Confusing Shiro greatly as Lance declined gently.

           It was difficult. Leading a flock. But what was harder was knowing that one of the people in his flock that he cared about so much was still distrusting of him. Still hiding the wings Shiro knew would be gorgeous. Still hiding the thing that would tell Shiro exactly what those distant eyes and smiles that tugged at his chest meant.

           Shiro would often find himself wondering what Lance’s wings could be like. Would they be brown like Hunk’s? Dark and powerful? Or would they be so black they were almost blue? Like the starry sky that Shiro saw in his eyes with every passing glance. Were they built for power or speed? Or were they built for neither? Were they an ivory color to give a beautiful contrast to his caramel colored skin? How would they react? Would they express the emotions that Lance never spoke? Childishly expressive. Or were they like Lance’s body, slim, lean, and closed off. Revealing nothing more than what he was willingly to show.

           Shiro didn’t know. And it was killing him slowly.

           Shiro didn’t know how Lance felt and it hurt him. Him and Keith. Him and the flock.

           Lance would always smile, ruffle Pidge’s hair. Give Hunk big hugs and large grins to reassure him. But he’d never show them his wings. His most telling part of himself. Nor would he touch theirs. He would glance at them. Shiro and everyone else could see the glances, the lingering gazes on their wings. They knew that Lance was gifted with people, and very wary of them. He could read their every mood like a book. But no one could tell what was in his eyes. Not even the Alteans could. Not even Coran, who was very obvious in his favoritism towards the blue paladin, could tell what was hidden in those royal blues eyes.

           Hunk had never even noticed until they had pointed it out to him. Shiro asking what Lance’s wings were like. Hunk had been his roommate after all. Sharing a living space for so long and being such close friends. But Hunk hadn’t known a thing. Hunk said that the Garrison hadn’t been very active with their flight training besides piloting, as many were obsessed with flying in their free time. Hunk had just assumed Lance was just one of those people who liked to relax without his wings out. There were few people who didn’t like to stretch out their wings at every chance. Feeling shy of how their wings reacted or moved. And just kept them to themselves. And Shiro accepted that excuse for a while.

           But then the months had dragged on. Bonding sessions. And mind melding. The link between paladins were everything was supposed to be visible, the moment Shiro tried to pry into the Blue paladin’s mind, it changed from pure clarity, to a haze. Only now and again he’d see flashes of the water and sand. Wet skin. And it always scared and fascinated him when he saw the rare sight of the water below its surface. Bright almost teal colors water, beige sand like silk on ‘his’ feet. The schools of fish swimming in front of him. Around him. Sometimes tickling his skin. It scared him because as beautiful as the ocean and water was. It was so quick to kill those of the sky. Leaving that place in Lance’s mind always made him wander if want he was seeing was a memory or a fantasy. Whether the fantasy was the beauty of an ocean he couldn’t touch living apparently on a beach in Cuba with his family. Or if it was a fantasy of wanting to drown in those beautiful waves. The linger taste of salt and the feeling of being washed away onto the shore of reality after these mind drifts left the bad taste of doubt in his mouth. It scared the others too when Shiro convinced them to visit the strange world. The scariest of all their reactions being Allura’s, who was tuned to the emotions of mind melding and said with certainty, that what Lance felt in those moments was a longing. A call for home in the water.

           It terrified Shiro.

           But also confused him when he considered the other’s minds. The clarity of the skies in their minds. From city skylines and buildings, to the red of the desert sunsets, and the night sky of his own mind. Smiling faces of family. And Lance’s was a foggy foundation of cold grasping tides at his ankles. Seemingly lying in wait to grab and snuff out the gorgeous light that Shiro called Lance.

           Shiro just wanted to know Lance. Get to know his moods, the way his eyes would glide over everyone. As if gauging damage, how to help them, how to smile at them and make them feel better. How to fix the castle. How to make Hunk’s anxiety lessen or how to drag Pidge away from her computer gremlin ways. The way Lance almost glided through the air, on his feet not his wings. Shiro could only imagine how graceful Lance would be in his own sky. The sky that they could never find inside his mind.

           There was only one time, when Shiro had felt like they had maybe taken a step closer to Lance as a team. Pulled the Hispanic teenager a little closer to their hearts and to their home. It was when Allura had insisted they learned a thing called climbing. A way to scale into the air, without wings. Allura had said it was for an emergency if their wings were injured, but Shiro had always wondered if it was a way of training that they could finally include Lance in.

           Though, for Lance it was barely training as it was total slaughter. It turned out that Lance was extremely good at climbing. Almost vibrating in visible excitement at the task as soon as Allura described it to everyone’s surprise. Finding nicks and crannies to dig his fingers into to lift him higher. While Keith had climbed the valiant height of ten feet, the highest of all the first four paladins so far. Lance had taken one glance at the wall. And scaled it in mere seconds. A flash of brown hair and then he was there. Sitting at the top. Head tilted up and his body straight, looking completely at peace, unobtainable. A boy in the rafters. A boy too high to reach. Too far away to even touch.

           It was then that Shiro had learned about Lance, and both him and his mate Keith’s budding interest in the mysterious goofy brunette. As Lance sat there at the top. Beating Shiro and Keith in every race they challenged him to on the rock wall. The other flock members giving up after a while of reaching for the inaccessible boy’s hand. Failing to grab the lifeline that tried to grab onto them and teach them by even the full length of their wingspan. Not a feather could touch.

           Lance had been sitting there at the edge. His legs dangling down, the ships lights were soft in the evening glow. Reflecting off Lance’s skin and giving him an almost shuddering and unearthly radiance. Shiro saw the boy in a new light, not the distrustful boy that was closed off. But the strong boy beneath it all. With broad shoulders and strong arms that pulled him closer toward whatever height he reached for. The curve and curl of his muscles and spine. Flexible. Durable. Stunning. It was then that Lance had spoken to them for the first time about himself. Not a joke. Not playful flirting.

           The faraway look in his eyes seemed softer, closer, almost vulnerable, it was the closest Shiro had felt to connecting with Lance’s emotions and knowing them without the crutch of wings. Lance’s full and pink lips recounting times of when he’d apparently climbed the rock structures around the beach of his home. Climbing them for fun and for a peaceful moment. Even Keith, the worst at reading people could hear the longing in Lance’s voice as he talked about the view. Seeing the sky and the ocean almost blending together on the horizon. With the wind in his hair and dust on his hands. He said the view was almost better when you had to work to get it. Keith, who’d be reluctant about the idea of climbing and weirded out by it, suddenly got exactly why Lance seemed to love it.

           Insecurities. Lance was the one with a home back on earth. Lance was the one that was in between, not new enough to shooting and training to make large progress, and not good enough to be seen at the highest levels like Shiro and Keith. He was the blurry and unrecognizable middle.

           Hazy.

           Like fog rolling over the ocean in the early morning when the sky was warming and the water was still cold.

           Climbing was something Lance was secure in. Familiar with. It was something that Lance could connect to his home with. Watching Lance close his eyes, almost looking like he was relishing the texture of rough and cool rock beneath his hands. Lance had admitted the other thing missing was the dust and taste of salt in the air.

           Salt.

           Like the taste of his deadly fantasy.

           Lance watched as Shiro pulled away slowly and reluctantly from his own thoughts. Spreading those raven black wings and flying away from the tan boy. The boy with the stars in his eyes and Shiro’s heart in his mercy. They had to get going to the planet’s surface soon, and Shiro knew that Lance wasn’t going to fly down to go to the team in view of his eyes. So he glided away, only glancing back once he was on the ground at the end of the hall. Seeing Lance still sitting there. A far away look and one leg dangling teasingly from the edge. So close. Yet so far.

           Unattainable.

           After a half an hour of rounding up rowdy flock members Shiro was able to explain the details of the planet and the mission they had to carry out. Shiro was both excited for the mission and anxious. It was actually a secret vacation day for the flock, to fly and relax on a planet was oxygen. But, there was one thing.

           It was an ocean planet.

           Beaches as far as they eye could see.

           With rowdy kids that couldn’t swim, and one that seemed to dream of going under the waves.

           Yeah, Shiro was a nervous wreck to say the least. But after seeing Lance’s excitement at hearing the words beach and sand. Shiro relaxed. Watching closely as Lance used wild hand gestures to describe how many things they could do on the beach. He even promised to show Pidge how to skip a rock past two skips. Demonstrating flicking wrist motions with vigor and a large grin on his face. And after about three hours on the beach, Shiro was fully confident and relaxed that everything would be fine.

           Except, that was exactly when shit hit the fan.

           Lance was sitting high up on one of the rocky cliffs, admiring the view and keeping an eye on Pidge and Hunk, who were both splashing and carefully flying over the ebb and flows of the planet’s deep blue marine. Of course, that mean he was the first one to see and react to Pidge losing control and falling into the water. Unable to fly away in time to stop herself from being grabbed and dragged under.

           It was like he was on autopilot and Hunk screamed Pidge’s name and Lance dove into the water. Ignoring Hunk’s scream of protest. The fear of losing two teammates, two best friends at once. But Lance wasn’t going to listen this time. Not when he could help Pidge. The girl he’d come to see as a little sister. A younger sibling.

           Someone he had to protect.

           The water was different here, but in many ways. It was exactly the same. The push and pull of the tide. Tugging his body in every which way. Yet still guiding him. Towards the sinking girl just barely in his reach. Her eyes were closed and she was limb, but Lance wasn’t afraid yet. The waves were helping him, giving him that final pull down to grab her, before the push came, dragging Lance and his friend towards the shore and the surface. Lance mourned the sight. He wanted to relish in the sight, the sounds, the feeling of being weightless. But this ocean was not his home. This ocean was trying to push him away, telling him this wasn’t home. But an outreach of it.

           Voices. The voice calling him home was never so urgent and loud in his mind than in that moment. But it wasn’t calling him into the depths. It was calling him out of these depths. Urging him to go towards the ocean of air. To give his friend the oxygen she needed. Life Lance craved for her to keep. Lance’s muscles didn’t strain in the water. Even with the added weight of his sodden friend. He broke the surface easily. Relieved as he shoved Pidge’s head above the water and heard her gasp and cough. It was wet sounding and sent shivers down his spine when he heard how close he’d been to failing her. But it was also a freeing sound. A sound that she was alive, as he held her close with one arm and used the other claw his way up the shore where the flock was gathered. Wing fluttering worriedly with various degrees of fear and relief on their faces. Lance’s claws elongated to dig into the solid earth beneath the loose sand to hoist Pidge up and shove her onto the dry said into their waiting arms as Lance’s head dropped. His arms spread in front of him in almost a push up position as he greedily gulped in air to replenish the energy he lost in carrying Pidge to shore. He didn’t notice them staring at the long black marble looking claws until it was too late. He was already in a sunk ship as they stared. Watching in horrific awe as Lance detached from the earth. Claws slipping easily through the sand with the lost tension and fluidly retracting and forming back into long fingers with soft tan skin as Lance sat up. His long limbs folding into his lap with one movement. Hands tucked into his sides protectively.

           He’d gotten them broken for his adaptation before. Hard rubber work boots, stomping and cruelly twisting into the flesh of his hands. Breaking bones and skin. He couldn’t even hold a skipping stone right for months after that. The pain being renewed and rebroken every time anyone in his family saw an inkling of tiny black kitten claws piercing his skin.

           What would they think over him now? Long, sharp, dangerous and war tore claws?

           Did he look like a monster now?

           Lance looked up nervously to them, still sitting on his knees as they stared. Until Coran kneeled in front of him. Holding out his hand for Lance to presumably place his own hand within as Coran smiled reassuringly.

           “Thank you for helping Pidge, can I see that your hands aren’t torn up from the currents?” Lance frowned for a fraction of a second. Body curling instinctively to protect his hands. But Coran didn’t back down. He cared for Lance. Very much. Lance reminded him of his own son, but also not. Lance was witty and funny, but even Coran could see that something was not clicking with the paladin. There was always something just a little, off. The way Lance would move, the way he’d act. Keeping everything he didn’t initiate at arm’s length. Avoiding bonding sessions or showing everyone his mind and his body. Coran felt the need to shield Lance from the harsh reality of the world that Lance had already suffered. And with this new development surfacing, Coran was not going to back down on his small bit of progress. It wasn’t the lad’s wings, but it obviously was a sensitive piece of him. A private and more personal side of him. The instincts and tools of a predator. But also not dangerous at all, as Pidge had been held by these same weapons, and had not been scratched in the slightest. Eventually Lance caved in, hand shaking as he gave Coran one of his hands. His arm trembling fiercely as he did so, the stares of the others and Coran’s touch seeming to make his anxiety worse as his arm tried to tug itself away as Coran was able to get a small grip. But Coran didn’t let him. Studying the smooth skin, and watching as it formed into the claws they’d just seen. They were blackish grey, like the rocks on the sand. With white scratches on their hard surface. Probably from the rocks. Coran gently traced the scratches. Lance didn’t flinch, rather, he stared at Coran curiously, relaxing as no threatening move was made against his hands. Even handing Coran his other hand with no resistance. Letting it shift immediately as soon as Coran’s skin touched his hand.

           Lance had never looked so calm then in that moment. Even Pidge who’d begun to breathe properly ventured closer, not even the least bit afraid as she practically sat on Lance and grabbed his hands. Studying them for herself. Pressing her fingers against the sharp edges with the pads of her fingers. Marveling that even when they looked like they could slice her skin easily they didn’t even leave a mark. Lance answered the silent question.

           “They’re for digging into rock. They won’t hurt you unless you apply force to it.” Pidge slid her finger against the claw, her skin curved around the smooth yet hard nails. But didn’t get cut.

           “When did you get these?” Lance shrugged.

           “I’ve had them for as long as I can remember. They make climbing and swimming easier.” Shiro injected himself into the conversation.

           “You can swim? How do you not drown?” Images of the ocean bubble back to the front of Shiro’s mind. Not a fantasy. A memory. Lance can swim. That’s amazing. It’s practically unheard of. Lance looked down sheepishly.

           “I just do I guess. I lived on the beach my whole life. I knew how to swim before I knew how to climb or say my alphabet honestly.” Shiro’s eyes were locked on Lance’s wet form, his brown hair was curling with the water in it and sticking to his face. Lance looked up at him and their eyes met. Shiro hadn’t seen a look like that on Lance ever. He looked so at home, kneeling in the sand and the water. Pidge hanging onto him like a lifeline as he held her up on his lap, hesitantly letting Pidge wrap her wings around him. He looked a little uncomfortable, but not about to deny the girl who still probably shaken up for her near-death experience. They all filed back into the castle shortly after that. Allura smiling as she immediately demanded they learn to swim from Lance. Everyone smiling at the joy apparent on Lance’s face when he saw the salt water pool. It was no beach, but it was something at least. And Shiro was happy to say that he seemed to be getting better at reading Lance. Not quite good. But no longer completely clueless. Just. In the middle.

           Though Shiro had to admit, it was nice to see Lance so happy and in his element, the swim shirts and shorts they had to wear were suffocation. The males in the group even stripped off the swimming shirt, just deciding to preen out the water after every lesson. Though, Lance seemed happy enough to wear the suffocating material. Shiro guessed it was how he grew up. Parent’s doting over his wings, placing a shirt on him to make sure the currents and salt didn’t rip away or ruin his feathers.

           Shiro wondered why he’d never heard of people swimming if that’s what Lance had grown up with on the coast. He’d visited the east coast after all. The closet he’d seen to swimming was boating. And that was a completely waterless sport if you were talking about getting yourself soaked in water and not machinery meant to withstand it.

           Lance was proving himself to be a man of many very odd talents and surprises. And it wasn’t a surprise to Shiro that it only intrigued him and made both him and Keith want the Cuban boy more than before. Longing to hold onto that tan skin, feel it underneath their hands, their lips. Feel soft hair and soft feathers. Even Lance’s odd shifting claws were perfect. Scratched up with ‘scars’, but so beautiful in their own way. Having a destructive power, yet grace to not breach skin and blood unless intentioned that way.

           Either way, Lance was happy with the outcome of the days. Shiro and Keith were ecstatic too as Lance began to grow closer. Hiding away less. Letting himself occasionally be held by them, letting them wrap their wings around him like a tight cocoon. Lance finally joining the cuddle sessions. Even without showing his own wings. It was progress. Progress like reading Lance’s moods. It made the two so happy. Lance was happy too.

           His truth was safe. Hidden.

           Until later on, it wasn’t.

           Shiro also wondered why he didn’t see it coming when the truth did come out.

           Lance flopped to the ground, back smacking on the metal loudly. Making Keith wince and panic. Back shots were forbidden in training as they often caused wing injuries. Hell, no one could ever sleep or rest on their backs without being uncomfortable. Keith was immediately kneeling on the ground, pulling Lance up and reaching for his back to check before Lance jerked away from him. Keith immediately backing down even when Shiro’s and probably Keith’s instincts too, were screaming at him to put his hand on Lance’s back and check the health of his wings. But Shiro hesitated. Lance hadn’t even shown them a feather. Touching them was probably a very off limits thing to do. Lance proved that right as he ducked into his room, promising Coran to check his wings, before coming out ten minutes later, smiling and saying it was just a little sore. Though they wanted to look and check for themselves, Coran simply told Lance to take it easy for the rest of the day. Lance had smiled at them and nodded. Going with what they said easily.

           If only Shiro had insisted on seeing Lance’s wings that day. Maybe he wouldn’t have been this way. Maybe Shiro wouldn’t have sent him on this mission. Either way, even possible different solution or way didn’t end with Shiro pacing in front of a healing pod that contained Lance after a mission gone wrong. Lance needing it after trapped in a crevice deep in the planet’s earth. The crevice was large enough for Pidge to fly in, but not Hunk or Shiro. But Lance wasn’t flying out. Keith and Pidge had to go down to get him. Finding Lance bloody and unconscious on the ground, but thankfully still breathing.

           Though nothing was more shocking then when Keith finally said fuck it to Lance’s privacy after dragging the injured boy out of the earth and lifted his shirt to make sure there was no damage. And there were some bruises, some gashes, not surprising to see after such a fall. The real surprise, is what they didn’t see.

           Wings.

           Lance’s back was muscular, but smooth, there was no protruding muscles or slit where his wings could tuck themselves in for protection. There was nothing to indicate Lance was even supposed to have wings on his back. It was bare. But oh god were there scars.

           Lash marks lined Lance’s back like tally marks on an elementary school chalk bored. Long slashes of thick scar tissue on Lance’s back that went in every direction. Shiro knew exactly what caused marks like that. Belts. Whips. He’d felt their sting before. It was a normal sight on him. He’d grown used to the sight of scars on himself.

           But god if the sight of scars on Lance didn’t make him sick with anger. How dare anyone put someone like Lance. Someone so self-sacrificing and pure through pain like that? How dare anyone touch the one he and his mate were hoping to claim. How. Dare. They. Even Keith had bristled at the sight. Wings stiffening and puffing up in a threatening pose to make everyone aware of his anger. Shiro’s own wings had a similar response. While Pidge cowered. Pressing her wings against her back to make herself smaller as she pressed herself into Allura’s side. As if she were hoping to disappear into the princess. Hunk looked like he wanted to throw up.

           Lance was a wingless.

           An abused, and mistreated boy.

           He swam and climbed, and did all of these amazing things, because he had no escape besides hiding into the waves of the ocean or the rocks of the shore. Having claws and ways to survive in a world that rejected him. Treated him as if he were a plague.

           Lance had been afraid of them.

           Afraid to tell them.

           Because he was hurt so badly before that he didn’t see any mercy. Probably didn’t think he was worthy of mercy. Only knowing hands raised to hurt him. Voice raised to yell. Shunned from affection. Preening sessions. Home. The beach was his home. The fantasy of being called home.

           The ocean called for him like the sky called for them.

           Shiro could understand it now, why Lance didn’t trust them. Why he was in pain.

           But that was over now.

           Royal blue eyes, dark and light as the ocean. With kindess and gentle waves, as well as storm and raging waters opened to them as the tan boy felt out of the pod and into their arms. Hands pressing flat against his back in a silent telling that they knew. Yet still held him close. And Lance closed his eyes. Letting himself be held by the two males. Held in their wings. Lance opened in his eyes, and in his mind he say the ocean. The pull of the tides pulling at his mind. Calling him home. And he closed his eyes with a smile. Holding on tighter.

           One day, he’d be a part of the ocean. One day, he’d get to go home. But today wasn’t the day for Lance to go marching home. Not yet. His sky of water had to wait for him, there was still the ocean of air for him to learn.

           He didn’t think his home minded waiting just a little bit longer.

           He’d be welcomed when the tide came all the same.

           Just, not now.