“Hey Keith, I got you something.”
Keith looked up from his homework as Shiro strode towards him in the dorm common room. “You got me something?”
Shiro sat next to him, smiling wide, holding a plastic grocery bag. “Yeah! I don’t know what animals you like, so I just picked the cutest one.” He rifled though the bag and pulled out a fuzzy grey stuffed animal.
“It’s a pillow pet!” Shiro was absolutely beaming, which confused Keith to no end. “Look, mine is a black cat.” He shoved the grey pillow pet into Keith’s arms and pulled a black one out of the bag.
Keith stared at the fuzzy hippo for a moment, before looking at Shiro in confusion. “Why?”
Shiro shrugged. “They’re cute. They also used to be really expensive, so I think I mostly did it for ten year old me. And I thought you’d like one too.”
It was only a few minutes before Shiro needed to leave for a meeting, which left Keith alone with his hippo. It’s a pillow, and a pet? He played around a bit with the velcro strap, before setting it on the coffee table and continuing his homework.
I want a hippopotamus for Christmas
It seemed Keith couldn’t go anywhere without hearing that awful song. He’d finally begun to understand why everyone dreaded repetitive Christmas music.
Only a hippopotamus will do
“Hey!” Shiro grabbed his arm and pointed at the speaker in the ceiling. “I got you a hippopotamus for Christmas!”
That’s when Keith found out what Shiro’s favorite Christmas song to sing very loud, and very off-key was.
Keith shivered beneath his blanket, sniffling, head pounding. He’d been sick for two days now, and he was over it. The only good thing about being bedridden was Shiro. Shiro had called himself Keith’s brother, but Keith knew the real test was coming on Monday when his throat started to hurt. Keith was not a good patient.
But Shiro had stayed. He’d stayed through Keith’s denial, his crankiness, his hostility, and at one point, frustrated tears.
Keith was trying in vain to get comfortable enough to sleep when Shiro sat down on the bed next to him.
“Hey bud,” he said, brushing the bangs out of Keith’s eyes. “We’re out of cough syrup. Think you’ll be okay long enough for me to run to the pharmacy?”
Keith nodded, and Shiro made to leave before coming back. He picked up the hippo pillow pet from the end of Keith’s bed and set it down next to him. “In case you get lonely.”
Keith stared at the hippo, and then grabbed it to hug in his arms, burying his face in the soft fur. It felt good to hold something as he fell asleep.
Hunk beckoned Keith to where he, Lance, and Pidge were sitting in a circle on the floor.
“What’s going on?” Keith asked.
“We’re taking a survey,” Hunk said, “if you could be stuck in a pod with any animal, resulting in you having a telepathic connection with that animal, which would you choose?”
Keith didn’t hesitate. “A hippo.”