Vast and all-consuming, cool but soothing - Shiro remembered this sensation, this presence. It calmed him. It grounded him, and yet it frightened him.
His eyes shot open; he wretched forward with a loud gasp, inhaling like he had just broken the surface. The starry scape from his favorite dreams and his worst nightmares lay before it.
No. No…All this time, he’d been stuck in the infinity of Voltron’s quintessence, the Black Lion’s very being. Keith hadn’t reached him. Allura hadn’t saved him. Instead, he dreamt it all, a coping mechanism for his long-lost sanity.
He was alone.
Shiro sunk to his knees, head hanging, just for a loud roar to rumble the transparent ground beneath him. He looked up, and the image stole an unconscious but exhilarating smile all the same. He wasn’t alone. He’d never been alone.
Black was there. Always.
And then, so were the others. A hand upon his shoulder, another slipping into his grip, and with Lance’s help and Keith’s support, he rose to his feet. Pidge and Hunk flanked him on the opposite side. Surrounding them were the lions. Yellow behind Hunk, Green behind Pidge, Blue behind Lance, Red behind Keith. Shiro indulged in the feeling of Black within him once more, and by the looks of relief also filling Lance and Keith’s expressions, they indulged, too.
Words were redundant. Once more connected by their paladin bond, Shiro felt the others’ confusion and fear but also their hope.
The dark landscape of the Black’s starry scape gave way to a bright cloudy sky, and then she was in the middle of their circle.
Wearing a dress of pure white light, she stared directly into Shiro’s soul. He felt her panic, saw it resounding in her eyes. She reached out to him, and he to her, not unlike when she put her hands on the Black Lion’s head and drew him from its quintessence.
“I can’t hold them back any longer,” she cried. “I tried. We tried, but they are here. You must stop them, paladins.”
“Where are you?” Shiro demanded, not quite able to reach her fingers, as Lance shrieked, “Allura!”
And then Shiro’s eyes snapped open. He jerked upright in his bed, hands coming up to clasp his clammy face. A nightmare and yet…a dream. He missed Allura every day, thought of her in every other moment, but Allura wasn’t alive. He’d watched her walk off to save the universe, and yet he could feel her warmth and light seeking his soul.
His phone alarm broke through his loud gasps, the sound of Pidge’s hacking laughter, and he smacked it silent. Throwing off his covers, he headed into the bathroom and missed the twinkling purple star, shining through his bedroom window in the pre-dawn sky.