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Recollection

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As careful as his fingers were, they could not avoid becoming steeped with slick, metallic red. Through the chestplate and its cracks, Lance’s grip slipped. 

“Stay with me,” he said. 

He grasped Keith’s arm, someplace safe. A shoulder. An old memory of first-aid lessons from the Galaxy Garrison returned to him, tinged with the feeling then of ugh, when would I ever need this? He wanted to tell past Lance to shut the hell up and listen. He wanted to tell present Lance’s mind to shut the hell up and focus on setting his teammate down gently on this alien, slimy, disgusting floor. The floor of the Galra warship that must have witnessed eons of tracked space dust and intergalactic colonisation efforts was not at all a suitable place for a guy in the midst of bleeding out and yet making not a single sound–

“Hey.” Lance stressed, nearly jostling his elbow that supported the back of Keith’s head. “Hey man, no no, don’t do this to me.”

“Shut up,” Keith murmured, between thin lips, pale like the rest of him. 

Paler than usual. Lance was going to beg Shiro to bring them to one of the galaxies with two suns so they could burn tan and health into this guy. 

“Thank God.” Lance wasn’t expecting his voice to break, but he was past caring. “You’re not dead–”

Keith’s voice cut in, so softly he had to lean in to hear. “Don’t forget this this time.”

“Forget? Forget? Listen, man,” Lance told him, face close. “I know we have our differences and you can’t stand me and I can’t stand you, but I swear to you tonight will recur in my nightmares for at least the next decade.”

Keith, this strange, strange guy, was smiling. Weakly, but Lance had never seen him crack a smile that wasn’t at Lance’s duress. And this counted as Lance’s duress.

“Don't forget,” Keith said, and coughed wetly, but his half-opened eyes caught Lance in a gaze. “You cradled me in your arms.”

And with that, he slipped back into unconsciousness, leaving Lance leaned in too close in awkward, terrified worry, just as Shiro and the rest of the team burst in.