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“No! I won’t leave you behind!”

Pidge glances over his shoulder at the Galra who’s guarding their cell. Luckily for them, he doesn’t seem to have noticed Keith’s little outburst. “It was just a suggestion, Keith. I don’t think we’re going to get much of a chance to break out on our own.” She places her hand awkwardly over his and pats it. “So chill, okay?”

Keith huffs and crosses his arms. “Still. You shouldn’t suggest stuff like that.”

Pidge holds her hands up in a show of surrender. “I just wanted to get that out there. Y’know, just in case it became an option.” She shifts her gaze to her ankle, which looks even more swollen now that it’s been stripped of its protective armor. “We both know that there’s no way I’m gonna be walking on this anytime soon, and there’s no need for you to stay captured if you don’t need to be.”

“I’ll carry you,” Keith says, shifting closer beside her. The prisoners’ garb doesn’t do much to ward against the chill of the transport ship, and she appreciates his added body heat.

“And you’ll somehow manage to both carry me and fight off the resulting wave of droids and Galran soldiers without getting the both of us killed or recaptured.” She adds wryly. It’s a sweet sentiment, it really is, but it’s not at all realistic. Any escape attempt that she can possibly think of will only result in death or recapture if Keith drags her along, and she’d rather not have him stuck within Haggar’s reach any longer than necessary.

Keith frowns, and glares at his hands as if they’re the ones being difficult. “Then we’ll just have to be stuck here together, because I am not leaving you behind.”

Pidge sighs, and slumps against the wall. “I give up already. Jeez. If you’ve got a death wish-”

“I don’t,” Keith asserts, as his cheeks flush. “I just- I just care about what happens to you, all right? And if I’m not here, it’s not like you’ll have much luck fighting back, so I’m gonna stay here, with you, and nothing you can say will change my mind.”

Wait. How is she supposed to react to that? He’s blushing and stuff, and he’s not looking up, but she can tell that he’s expecting her to say something. Neither of them are good with words. Pidge is better with tech, and he is best with, well, violence. For him to have actually said ‘I care about what happens to you’ out loud, she must really be important to him. In fact, the only other person that she has ever seen him be so concerned about is Shiro, who’s pretty much his only family.

She tries to pat his hand again, and then thinks better of it, and slides her hand into his instead. “I care about you too, Keith. So just, don’t die or get hurt or whatever trying to worry about me, okay?”

His thumb brushes her knuckle and she shivers, not at all because of the chill. “Okay.” He agrees.

“Okay.” Pidge repeats as she squeezes his hand, and they settle in to wait for whatever the Galra have in store for them.

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The light peaks through the bars like water climbing through roots, and it's in those few illuminated instances that Pidge studies him. The bruise under his eyes is dark and purple, yet still a different shade entirely from that of the Galra. His mouth is still set into a smirk- even the druids cannot take that from him- and his eyes flash occasionally, hinting at the anger he's barely holding within.

"It's okay. I'm fine." She offers, knowing full well that the pain is showing through her voice. 

Keith clenches his fists and pulls back, but before he can punch the wall, she catches his hand, and he lets her pry it open. Their fingers intertwine as naturally as ivy in a tree, and she's glad that they understand this. I'm sorry I'm lying, she says. I'm sorry I can't help you, he says back.

He sighs. "I don't get why they had to mess up your other leg too. At this point, it's obvious that we can't escape on our own."

Pidge can think of a million reasons why they'd hurt her instead of him. She's smaller, weaker, more likely to figure out a plan to escape unnoticed,  and quite obviously, team Voltron's darling. She wasn't so aware of it all the time, but this time, yeah, she got it. It was human nature to protect the weak, and she certainly looked that way. Instead of telling him any of these reasons, she smiles and squeezes his hand, "They'll be here soon. There were trackers, signitures; they'll find us."

She's said the same thing over and over again. She doesn't know when it'll turn out to be true. Keith smiles back anyways. "Okay. Okay."

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At some point, the Galra stop sending in two trays of food, and only send in one. 

Pidge's wounded legs have gotten worse. She's no expert in the medical sciences, but by the look of the dark veins that crawl up her legs, she's guessing that it'a blood poisoning. The bludgeoning of her ankles must've caused some of the bones to break, and get lodged in her blood stream. She guesses that the Galra have decided she's not worth the food, or worth attempting to heal. She should feel mad about that, put out at the very least, but honestly? She's tired of being angry.

Keith splits his food with a scowl, and every morning, her half gets larger. She tries her best to finish it, but most mornings, she's not hungry, and besides, Keith needs it more. 

"How long have we been here?" She croaks one morning, her throat dry and painful. 

Keith sits with his arms around her waist, his chest expanding with every breath behind her. His touch has become more and more familiar with the worsening of her injuries. She can't quite decide how she feels about the fact that it took capture and torture for them to come to this point. 

"I don't know. More than a week. Less than a month."

She snorts. "Very precise."

Keith shrugs. "We've had twenty-seven guard changes, if that helps any."

"Helps more than knowing the days does."

Katie shifts, and her legs ache. She leans into him deeper, and sighs. "We might have to get out of here on our own. I don't think I can ignore this," She gestures at her legs. "For much longer."

Keith grabs her hand. His skin is warm, but hers has become warmer with the onset of a fever. "Just rest for now. Leave the rest to me."

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Keith remembers that first month in the desert, when he had not been used to the screaming at night, or the sudden coolness when the sun disappeared beneath the horizon. He'd found a carcass behind his shed; an animal so decayed and rotted that he could not even begin to decipher what it once was. Its skin had turned black; some parts had been completely liquified.

Pidge reminds him of that now, as she slumps against his shoulder, skin damp with sweat, eyes having not opened for the last three guard changes. Keith is no medic, but he knows that this is bad. If he doesn't figure out how to get them out of here soon, she'll die. 

Keith gently moves her aside, laying her on the ground. She whimpers, hardly audible. His food is some strange mix of pureed meat and bone, and he hates it, but he eats every bite. He has no time to waste. They're going to escape, today.