Riassunto: Ulaz doesn't save Shiro. So Shiro has to save himself.
Note: Written for COWT 8 - Ira
There is a Galra saying, passed between warriors, that recites: You have to be broken to learn your true strength and be born again.
Shiro has learned of this when he was shackled and fighting for his life. He has heard the words be uttered by the lips of his captors and the smiles of his torturers.
They call him champion and they talk of his prowess in the arena, they talk of his fights and of his wins.
They tell him to give in and be reborn in the name of the Empire.
And yet Shiro still resists, he still fights. He still breathes.
He catches the attention of the druids. Until now it has been warriors, generals and other prisoners, waiting for him to break on his own. Using violence in the hope of obtaining their objective.
Violence has never worked on Shiro.
He sees the difference in the druid’s eyes. They won’t wait for him to break, won’t torture him slowly. They don’t have time to waste. They are builders, they are creators. And to make, to rebuild him, they need to destroy him first.
They break Shiro piece by piece and laugh while doing it.
He hears that someone tries to help him, he hears of a rescue mission that never happens. They catch him before he can and when Haggar tells him she’s smiling.
“Ulaz didn’t know, did he,” she says, with a void smile, “we’ve already put you back together just the way we needed.”
Some days it feels like she’s right.
They keep him with them and it feels like years pass. He does his best, fight them as hard as he can manage. But one day he looks at them and wonders why he's doing this. Resisting so hard and in front of so many terrible things. Is it really the best thing he can do? Is it really worth it? Shouldn’t he just give up, for once in his life?
They promise him a better life than this, life of a honourable Galra warrior.
So, one day, Shiro says yes.
The other warriors look down on him. He's the alien that came from the arena, the little broken toy.He wonders if they would be able to withstand what he did for as long as he did.
Shiro wonders what kind of training they have done, if they have any real combat experience. The empire is big and strong , but has been dominating the galaxy for thousand of years.
Its warriors are growing soft with complacency and peace. Shiro never had that possibility.
He's as sharp as steel, as hard as rock. He's as breakable as glass. But even glass can become a weapon if used right.
But they, they are malleable and soft, they are clay under his hands, and Shiro will take them by storm.
As much as they hate him, he's stronger than them; he's faster and more intelligent. He makes Haggar see his value and she smiles at him, happy.
One day, Shiro thinks, he'll kill her. He’ll kill everyone of them, laughing as their blood stains his hand.
He doesn't know what Voltron is before this, but Haggar explains to him with a manic glint in her eyes.
She takes Shiro to see the Red lion, encased in her barrier ever since the death of her previous paladin. No one, they said, has been able to make her open up ever since they have taken her in Galra custody. All the best fighters, all the more glorious generals of the Empire, but she had remained stubbornly closed.
When Shiro looks into the eyes of the lion, the beast responds to him. Not outside, but she roars in his head. She screams of revenge and hatred and Shiro has been speaking that language for months.
“No one will ever be able to tame her,” she says.
Shiro smiles and feels her purr inside his mind.
He's in the ship when they get attacked by the other lions.
Shiro has been waiting for the moment, lying in wait. And he feels Red react to the other lions who are approaching. She wakes up slowly and then all at once.
She calls for him so Shiro turns and knocks the other guard that's with him out cold. He watches as the Galra tumbles to the ground unconscious.
He runs towards Red as fast as he can and he think of Haggar, of her hands touching him and morphing into something she desired.
And yet, Shiro survived. Still breathes. Still lives.
“What is happening?” is what he hears the moment he steps inside Red. He thinks that the lions must be connected in some ways and that Red had been anxious to reconnect with the others.
He understands her. If he could, he would fly home in a minute. If revenge didn't call his name so sweetly he would leave everything behind.
“Lance don't get distracted,” someone says and Shiro stops. He knows that voice, would recognize it to hell and back.
“Keith,” he murmurs, a breath he didn't know he was holding. His name comes to his lips sweet, a sip of fresh water after the desert. How many times has he thought about him? How many times has he thought about meeting him again, about actually going back home?
He knows the other has heard him because he hears a whispered “Shiro?” come back from the speakers.
Later Keith takes his shirt in his hands and kisses him, deep and passionate and Shiro let's him.
“You should be in the Black Lion,” Keith tells him and once he would have been right.
But the Shiro that came out of that ship was not the same that came in.
“I think I just want to follow your lead’” he says, honestly. He doesn’t think he’s made to lead much of anything anymore, but he was built to follow. And follow he will do.
And Red purrs in his mind.