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A Trip to the Zoo

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"Hunk! Keith! Lance! Pidge! Come downstairs! We're ready to go!" Shiro called up the stairs. The kids came running down the stairs; stumbling over each other to get to their parents.

"I'm ready! I'm ready!" Lance exclaimed.

"Me too!" Hunk said.

"Me three!" Pidge said happily.

"Alright. Where's Keith?" Shiro asked. As if on cue, the other boy walked down the stairs and stood next to his siblings; fumbling with his jacket zipper. Allura noticed that his shoes were untied.

"Here you go, Keith," she said; kneeling down to tie them for him.

"Thank you."

"Of course. Are you ready to go, sweetheart?" Keith nodded; staring down at his shoes sheepishly.

"I guess so," he mumbled. Lance ran over and hugged Keith in excitement; making the violet-eyed boy tense up. Tears welled in Keith's eyes and threatened to spill out of brilliant violet orbs.

"Lance, what have I told you about touching Keith without his permission?" Allura reminded. Lance let go of the boy and Keith visibly relaxed; sliding farther toward Shiro and hugging the man's leg.

"Not to," Lance mumbled sadly. Allura picked him up.

"It's alright, but just remember for the future, okay?" Lance nodded and Allura booped his nose.

"Alright. Now, remember that if you're good, we'll go to the water park next week," Shiro announced. Keith gripped his leg tighter and Shiro picked him up. "Okay, let's go!" The family piled into the car and drove off to the zoo. Once they got there, Allura and Shiro helped the kids out of the car; hooking Lance and Keith up to leashes so they wouldn't wander off. Allura held Hunk's hand and Shiro rested Pidge on his hip and together they walked into the front gates of the animal pavilion.

They went around to look at a majority of the animals before they stopped for lunch at Hunk's request.

"Alright. We have a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and bacon for Hunk," Shiro said; sliding the sandwich in front of Hunk. "A peanut butter sandwich for Pidge." They took it with an eagerness. "A peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Lance." Lance opened the zip lock bag and took a bite out of his sandwich. "And a ham and cheese sandwich for Keith." Keith just stared at the sandwich like it was a bug that he was trying not to let get away.

"You're supposed to eat the sandwich, not stare at it, silly," Lance reminded; poking Keith. Keith ignored him and handed the sandwich back to his parents.

"I'm not very hungry, right now," Keith said in explanation.

"Alright," Shiro answered hesitantly; talking the sandwich and putting it back in the lunch bag. Once lunch was finished, the family went to see more animals; electing to look at the flamingos for a while. Whilst there, Keith silently unbuckled his leash and walked away while everyone was distracted. He walked until he got to a bench and stopped; looking around.

"Hey, buddy. Are you lost?" a man sitting on the bench asked.

"Um, I don't know," Keith admitted. He'd walked farther than he'd thought.

"What's your name?"

"Keith."

"Okay, Keith. Are your parents around here somewhere?" the man asked. As if on cue, Allura and Shiro rushed around the corner.

"Keith! There you are!" Allura exclaimed; kneeling in front of her son. "You can't just run off like that!"

"Sorry," Keith mumbled; looking down at his feet. "I was trying to find the lions."

"That's quite alright. We were just worried about you, Keith."

"Thank you for looking after him," Shiro said to the other man.

"I just saw a kid with no parents and I thought that I'd distract him until they got here," the man explained.

"Well, thanks, anyway. I'm Shiro and this is my wife, Allura and our kids, Hunk, Lance, Pidge, and, of course, Keith," Shiro introduced; pointing at each person as he said their names.

"Thace."

"Yes, well, thank you for watching out for our little one," Allura said; standing and ruffling Keith's hair. Keith smiled and lifted his arms to be picked up, which Allura happily did.

"It's my pleasure, ma'am, really. He reminds me of myself at that age. When did you have him?"

"Oh, actually, we adopted him about a year ago. He's seven, now," Allura explained.

"Do you have any kids of your own?" Shiro asked.

"Well, it's kind of complicated. I had a girlfriend once who got pregnant and broke up with me. I lost track of her and our child. That was almost seven or eight years ago," Thace explained.

"Oh." Keith wriggled in Allura's arms and when she put him down he walked over to the man.

"My mommy said that this belonged to my daddy," Keith said; pulling a ring out of his jacket pocket. Thace looked at it with a certain remembrance in his violet eyes. He knelt down to the boy.

"That's very lovely, Keith."

"I want you to have it." Keith offered the ring to Thace.

"I can't take this, buddy."

"I have one just like it," Keith said; pulling out a matching ring attached to a small chain around his neck. He offered Thace the first ring again and the man happily took it.

"Thank you, Keith," Thace whispered. Suddenly, Keith did something unexpected. He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around Thace's neck in a tight hug; burying his face in the man's neck. Once he pulled away, Keith turned back to his mother.

"I'm sorry I scared you," he apologized.

"It's alright, Keith." Allura turned to Thace. "We really must be going. It was nice to meet you, though," she told him.

"Of course. It was nice to meet you, too. You have a beautiful family."

"Thank you." With that, the family went to go look at the lions; the kids' favorite animal.

"Hey, Ulaz. Any new lions this month?" Shiro asked.

"Well, we do have a new one, if you'd like to come back and look at her. She was just born this week," Ulaz said.

"I think it's Keith's turn to name one," Allura announced.

"You take him. I've got the others," Shiro said. Allura took Keith into the back with Ulaz to check out the new lion cub.

"Here she is." The cub was licking her paw. "What do you want to name her, Keith?" Ulaz asked.

"Red. Her name should be Red," Keith said happily; reaching for the cub. Ulaz picked her up and handed her to the eager little boy.

"Here you go. be careful; she's only four days old," Ulaz instructed.

"I will be." They walked into the enclosure and over to the rest of the family; separated by the gate.

"This is Red, courtesy of Keith."

"Hello, Red," Shiro greeted; reaching out and petting the lion cub's head. She purred. "So, we've got Blue, Donut, Bolt, and now Red. It's a good choice of name, Keith." Keith blushed and busied himself by scratching Red's head softly. She purred at him and licked his chin.

***

"Today was a good day," Allura mused; looking at the kids in the back who had fallen asleep.

"Yeah, it was," Shiro agreed; staring at the road ahead. "Did that Thace guy seem familiar to you?" he asked.

"Kind of," Allura admitted. "Keith definitely seemed to know him."

"You don't think..."

"Maybe. But for now, we have to plan for the water park."

"Right." Allura was right.

It had been a very good day.