Keith hadn’t slept in two months.
I mean sure, he’d gotten a few hours of sleep in here and there. Sometimes in the showers after he’s finished washing, sometimes after breakfast when the others have dispersed, sometimes during some of the other Blade member’s training exercises. Never at night, when he’s supposed to sleep.
It was his damn nightmares acting up again. He was usually able to deal with them pretty well, but some of the past month's events must have triggered them.
Nobody noticed once he got back to the Castleship, of course (which he was grateful for, but he couldn’t help but feel a little brought-down by the fact that nobody paid him that much attention). He acted the same as he always had, running through drills, practicing his battle techniques, helping to save the universe and all that. Being tired had never stopped him from getting things done before. Plus, the fact that he was back where he belonged- with his family- had helped a bit at first. But the nightmares never went away forever. They had a habit of coming back.
It was sort of nice, being able to wander around the castle when everyone else was asleep. Lance snored almost as loud as Pidge, and sometimes Allura talked in her sleep. Shiro woke up early to train every morning and Hunk always got up to cook everyone breakfast (he was the only one on board that could make green space goo taste remotely edible). Keith would pretend that he’d just woken up whenever he met either of them in the halls, and they’d never suspected a thing.
One of the perks of walking around the giant castle at night with nobody to bother you and nothing else to do is stumbling upon all the hidden rooms. So far, Keith had found a secret bathroom that’s literally just a huge bath with all sorts of different soaps and body washes (what Lance wouldn’t give to find that), another training room that has a few extra settings in its memory that had been helping him out quite a bit, and a laundry room. He wasn’t sure who used it or when, but it was there.
His favorite room by far was the secret planetarium that he found on one of his midnight wanderings. Keith had been looking for the bathrooms. Sure, he can find all these hidden rooms with no problem, but when it comes to the one thing he needs?
He was sure they were just around this corner… Keith scowled as he scanned the seemingly doorless hallway in front of him. Maybe it was one of those stupid doors that had the fingerprint thing. So, begrudgingly, Keith began searching the walls with his hands, grumbling about dumb-fucking-doors and needing to take a piss.
The wall beneath one of his hands gave way suddenly, sinking back into itself and creating a grinding, scraping noise that wreaked havoc on his ears. A ladder dropped unexpectedly from the ceiling, almost hitting Keith on the head. He forgot about needing to pee, and immediately started to climb, curiosity getting the best of him.
Keith’s jaw dropped as he rose slowly to his feet, eyes widening as he took in the sight before him.
The room, about the size of three training decks, was shaped like a dome, and the entire ceiling was made entirely of glass. His violet eyes glowed with the light of a billion stars as he rotated to take in the view. The hatch door leading back to the main part of the ship slid closed behind him, but he barely noticed.
There were planets everywhere. One of the closer gas giants had a ring of space junk circling its outer core slowly, catching the light of the nearby star and almost blinding Keith with its radiance. Another was more kaleidoscopic than a rainbow, swirls and blotches and stripes of colors he’d never even seen before decorating the atmosphere and making the planet look as though it came straight out of a little girl’s dream. A small storm of meteors streaked over the top of the room, their tails leaving a wake of glittering silver behind them. Keith was breathless.
Somehow finding the strength to tear his gaze from the universe dancing in front of him, he took a minute to study the room itself.
A few beanbag chairs (or, what Keith assumed to be beanbag chairs-- they looked close enough) were scattered across the floor, and a faded orange couch sat in the center of them, a couple throw pillows tossed haphazardly around its cushions. A small glass coffee table sat in front of the couch, and a pile of books was laid across its surface. Taking a moment to scan through them, he sat down on one of the couch’s cushions and began to read the one labeled "A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy", but his gaze was quickly drawn back to the slowly passing universe above him. He was absolutely awestruck, wondering how he’d never paid attention to the beauty of the space he’d been stuck in.
Maybe… He yawned, hesitating before stretching out across the couch and covering himself with the cream-colored blanket that was draped over the back. Maybe he could actually sleep here.
He lay still for a while, his hands clasped together on top of the blanket. He watched the stars glittering peacefully above him, watched the planets spinning slowly around their axes, watched the comets shooting past the dome windows. He remembers shutting his eyes, the sight of all the universe’s stars twinkling behind his eyelids and an unexpected feeling of peace overcoming him. He fell asleep content, for the first time in a long time.
That definitely wasn’t how he woke up.
The nightmares were acting up again.
He’d always had nightmares, so it’s not a huge surprise that they were the reason he couldn’t sleep. His mother used to call him her Shooting Star, because it was almost impossible to get him to rest. He was always on the move, always looking for somewhere else to run off to. Sleep wasn’t much of a concern for him when he younger anyway-- he thrived off daytime naps and liked to explore later into the night (Keith scoffed as he realized he’d practically resorted to the whole daytime-napping-deal again).
His mother’s affectionate nickname had turned sour over the years, the origin of it growing more related to his nightmare problem than anything else. Hell, he hadn’t properly rested in two months! And as for his constantly being on the run… well, that could speak for itself. The nightmares themselves weren’t horrible when he was younger, but some of the things he'd been through since the team had gone into space had affected him pretty negatively. The nightmares always got worse when something was causing Keith stress.
The odd thing about this particular nightmare was that it hadn't gone away yet. He never got a break from it. Every time he shut his eyes, he saw the things that he never wanted to even think about ever again, much less see. Even if he fell asleep to the most calming, beautiful things (his mother’s distant singing, the sounds of the wind pressing against the sides of his father’s shack, the sight of the entire material universe above him), they always found him.
So, he avoided sleeping altogether. Because if he couldn’t sleep in peace, then what was the point?