Category: Voltron Legendary Defender (animated series)
Genre: Sci-fantasy / romance / speculative
Focused Ship: (bisexual) Shiro x Allura
Summary: As the final war for earth looms near, Shiro and Allura talk about their past, present, and future one night overlooking the memorial wall.
– A reflective piece on lost loved ones, war-time thoughts and trauma.
Shiro remembered those short nights at the Garrison, when the facility would be astir with activity even in the deadest of hours. The hums and drumming of echoing chambers, the low shrill of machinery, and the patter of feet as officers and engineers walked about in their array of responsibilities were like a lullaby back then.
The nights were short because sleep used to be an afterthought, three hours of it before duty called again and he was back in high gear. It was a way of life for everyone at the base. The explorer in him, however, always yearned for more, pushed further and higher even when his body said it was enough, even when his failing health had tried hard to pull him down. The Kerberos mission had changed everything. No, his destiny had changed everything.
And change came with a different life. A different purpose. A unique place in the galaxy. That was the first calling.
He thought he had achieved it all. He fought through the worst of everything and saw his comrades grow and become leaders in their own right. But something still felt missing. It was not apparent during the fight to save Earth nor during the aftermath that pushed him tenfold to be the voice of reason and inspiration for his people, his team. But it was now.
The last few months at the Garrison were the hardest, when the storm of activity after nightfall were no longer lullabies in his head. They would not put him to sleep, they would not leave him to rest. They were suddenly loud, suddenly demanding. After the war for Earth, sleep was just a blur for all of them, a random blink in reality before the truth that their planet was no longer the same set in. He had been reborn and reformed, but it wasn’t enough. Even now, even here, he felt torn about his place.
And it came with a question. From her.
“What happens after all this is over?”
It was as simply put as the air they exhaled as their eyes searched for meaning in the rows and columns of fallen soldiers in the memorial room. Shiro had disappeared there hours ago, moved by some unconscious motive to look over Adam’s name and ponder over his life. Their life.
He didn’t know that she would walk in later – she above anyone – adorned in the Garrison uniform she was given with her hair loose around her shoulders, as if she was caught between being on active duty and calling in for the night. But her face had betrayed all the reasons.
“I can’t sleep,” she had said. “I needed some time to think. My apologies, Shiro.”
He had strangely remembered a time when they had this same exchange, when he had urged her to get some rest. This time, he didn’t stop her.
“No need, Allura. You and me both,” he followed her movement with his eyes before taking a seat on one of the three steps that faced the memorial wall. “But I have to admit…I didn’t expect you to come here of all places.”
A small smile crept to her lips as she walked over to an assortment of names. Some of them belonged to those who had died during the first invasion before they came to earth, and others during the last war.
“You’ll be surprised. This is probably my third time in months,” she continued. “I may not have known them personally but…I’ve always had a habit of honoring the dead. As you know.”
Shiro did not respond. He knew that very well.
She chanted some prayers and moved down the rows slowly. He gave her the space she needed even when it felt tempting to say a word or two, even when he had been the one keeping distance ever since she put him back into his new body and later powered his new arm. It almost became a habit, going about their different ways to fulfill the same goal. They had hardly talked when everything else seemed more important. He didn’t realize it until now.
“I came here to do the same,” he found himself blurting out. “To see someone.”
He cursed himself for bringing up something unnecessary. But Allura had turned her head at him curiously before turning back at the wall.
“What was he like?”
Shiro had least expected for her to say something so soon, and if she did, he expected it to be business. Everything was about business between them now. But this was different.
“I’m sorry?” He had to be clear whether what she was asking was true.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” she looked at him apologetically. “I heard it from Pidge’s father in passing and…nevermind, forget what I said.”
“No, it’s okay.” He impulsively reached his hand up when she had moved her face away. He didn’t expect her to find out, nor could he tell how much she already knew about him, about Adam. But the little pricks and prods in his brain were overcome with an eagerness for this new distraction, a reconnection with a feeling he thought he had lost.
“Adam was…” Shiro tried to pick at everything he knew of him, everything he remembered. He scraped past the news that had brought him grief, the slow realization and acceptance that the man he once loved was never going to come back. He knew this was war, he knew going in he had to accept anything and everything. But on nights like this, when the noise was too much and his ability to be the poised captain everyone revered him for swayed, he felt urged to come here. To think of old times. To dwell on what was and what could have been. Most of all, to ask what was his purpose now.
“He was an honest guy,” Shiro settled on an answer. “A true friend, a confidante. A great pilot. I was very lucky to have met him…even if it didn’t work out in the end.”
She had made her way to his side then, sitting down on the same step he was on.
“I understand. He must have been quite a person,” She smiled at him. “I’m sure he would have been proud to see what you’ve become.”
“Yeah…” Shiro added slowly. “After everything…I know he would have.”
He wanted to say more. Much more. But he thought again if this was the right time or place, or if it was worth having these talks with her at all.
“I knew someone too.”
There was a pause, and Shiro looked at her from the corner of his eyes, his ears perked up enough to let her continue. He wondered if it was more out of his duty than curiosity, but it could have been both.
“I never told you…or anyone. Actually it’s a memory I’d often forget because it was a long long time ago.”
“In Altea?” Shiro found himself asking.
She nodded. “She was a friend. A close friend when I was growing up. Possibly one of the few who could deal with me.”
Shiro took the chance to ask this time. “What was she like?”
“Kind. Virtuous. Funny. Much braver than me,” she spoke. “We were inseparable, even during my royal duties. I guess because I wanted a friend my age so badly but…she was special. I told her that when the time came, I would marry her. She had agreed. Everything was well, and then of course…Zarkon…”
Shiro nodded, knowing it too well. He let her pause. “Adam and I…we were going to marry too.”
Allura pushed some strands of hair behind her ear to look at him, almost forlorn. “Fate plays a cruel game, doesn’t it.”
There was a time when Shiro would have agreed, but this time he merely shrugged. “It does. Or…it prepares you for another path. A bigger destiny.”
There was a tired chuckle. “A bigger destiny, huh,” she said. “Sounds even crueler.”
“This was all out of our hands,” Shiro added quickly, his floating arm that held her crystal making contact with her shoulder ever so firmly. “There was no one to blame. It was just…all meant to happen.”
He noticed her hand reach up to his fingers, pressing over to show a sign of agreement. He knew by now the kind of person she was, how much weight she had to carry. They were both leaders, and he understood it was not easy – it was not easy to not blame oneself, or blame anything else for that matter. Adam had told him once that he couldn’t have stopped him if he tried, because destiny was stronger. And blaming destiny would have driven anyone mad.
“I know…” Allura finally said. “I guess I can’t deny that if everything didn’t happen as it did, I wouldn’t have met any of you. I wouldn’t have been in this fight so much bigger than myself. And be here, on your planet, sitting at this very spot.”
Shiro licked his lips before continuing. “Likewise, if a certain princess didn’t trap me and my comrades and throw us into one heck of a journey of our lives, I wouldn’t be sitting at this very spot either.”
He could have sworn it was out of impulse on how fast Allura struck his back playfully, a laugh escaping her lips. He followed along.
“Trapped you, is it? I mean it’s fair…” she smirked. “But if you want to talk about greater callings, then let’s not put all the blame on me now.”
“I would never.” Shiro responded. “You could say I’m thankful.”
There was a moment when both their eyes met, and Shiro waited for her to speak.
“You shouldn’t be thanking me at all.” She whispered. “I don’t deserve to–”
“I should. I always will,” Shiro was quick to refute. “After what you’ve done for me – everything since the beginning – I’m always indebted to you, Allura. I just feel like an idiot for not saying it sooner.”
A smile plucked at her lips, and she opened her mouth to say something, but she chose to shut them before leaning forward to wrap her arms around her knees. Her eyes turned back at the wall, and only then did Shiro felt the loneliness, that sense of distance that she –and he, himself—had made for themselves.
When she spoke again, he already knew they were thinking the same.
“So…” she then whispered. “What happens after all this is over?”
Shiro fished for an answer, but he knew he didn’t have one. If he did, he wouldn’t have come here in the dead of night to look for it. He wouldn’t have been searching for a purpose still, this calling beyond his duty to be their captain, their beacon in times of crisis. It was a strange craving that kept him awake at nights now, mixed with a deep-set guilt on whether he should have just stayed on earth along with a fear for the unknown future. They were all uncertain after their planet had taken a beating, he was sure of that. But this was different. This feeling had no plan, no explanation. And he wondered if she felt it too.
“I’m still working on figuring that out…” He rubbed the back of his head. “But whatever happens, we’ll face it together.”
“Like old times?” She asked, placing her cheek against her knee to look up at him again.
“Yeah…like old times.” He smiled back, this time as warmly as he could. He had hoped that in some way or form he could let her know that she didn’t have to fear their relationship being any less than before.
“I like it when we talk like this,” Allura added softly. “With everything that has happened, It’s nice to be vulnerable with someone. Someone I trust.”
“Same here.” Shiro responded. “We can do this again, if you want. You’re always welcome to.”
“You’re too sweet, Shiro.” Allura chuckled. “I’ll make a note of that. And you know you are welcome to do the same.”
She then stifled a yawn and leaned back for a stretch. Only when he realized that she was probably ready to leave that he put words to his wayward thoughts.
“You know sometimes…I feel that I don’t deserve this.” He touched the base of his armored arm, feeling the magnetic force that had bonded him to it. “Your compassion, Keith’s loyalty, everyone’s encouragement, all of this. I guess it’s because I feel like I should be done by now, just be content with where I am. I should stop trying to find meaning in greater purposes, if that makes sense. That’s for all of you to do.”
“What are you saying?” Allura was quick to turn to him, fueled with that instinctive readiness to save him like she always did. “You are the captain of the Atlas, the commander, once a rightful Black Paladin, you inspire Keith and Lance and Pidge and everyone in so many ways. Your people will always need you, Shiro. The Galaxy will need you. Even me.”
There was a pause before she spoke again. “And if you still think that’s not enough…that’s okay. You’re young, Shiro, you’re so young, even for a human.” She took a deep breath, as subtly in the silence as possible. “I do it too…think about those things. I ask myself where I really belong and what would really happen to me, you know? But you said it yourself, there’s a bigger destiny for all of us. And as long as we face it together…we will be okay.”
He didn’t notice when Allura had turned her whole body in his direction, or when his hand – his human hand – came up to pull a strand of her hair away from her face, feeling its soft texture before letting it fall to her shoulder.
“I know. I still remind myself of that. It’s that thought that took me to the stars many times. And I don’t think I am done yet.” Shiro spoke slowly, “I think there is still a purpose for me – for us – and I think you can help.”
Allura searched his eyes. “What do you mean, Shiro?”
“When this is all over…” he picked her hand in his and patted against it, leaving an invisible pact that he felt he owed her since day one. “I want to tell you something. It’s too early to say now, so we’ll have to pray that the chance will come soon.”
She blinked hard before making a face. “I really hate secrets, Takashi Shirogane.” Her face relaxed before she formed another smile. “But if that’s what it will take, then I will wait. Patience yields focus, as some wise man likes to say.”
Shiro chuckled, a lighter feeling taking hold of his chest. They probably were in that room for awhile, and daylight was sure to be around the corner. He didn’t think he would come this far, to engage and bring meaning to the things that he could not understand. To do that with her made that much of a difference. He didn’t have to wonder why. Just watching and dreaming in silence together spoke more about that space between them, and how it was shrinking piece by piece.
And then when it was time to part ways for that night, Allura offered him something more.
“It’s hard not to miss them…our loved ones. Our first loves.” She motioned towards the wall, towards the section Shiro knew held his name. “They teach us to open our heart in a different way. Even when we can’t be with them, even when we can’t share their future…we still have something from them to keep us going. To someday find someone else.”
Shiro only registered her words after she bid him goodnight and left to return to her room. It was only then when he felt a softness in his chest that he never felt before, a resurgence of faith, of feelings lost and then returned. Adam, he knew, was his first, but he wasn’t his last.
“I’ll tell her someday.” Shiro thought to himself. If she was to be his last, he had to make it worth it.
He returned one last smile to the man who gave him a meaningful past, and a nod to a future that he hoped to build. There was still more to explore, more to expect, and he thanked destiny for being on his side still.