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should this be a dream (i don't want to awaken)

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The small, rocky planet on which they stop briefly during the trip through the Altair system has three moons.

Shiro remembers briefly how he used to learn the constellations as a kid; back on Earth, in his early childhood, nobody ever believed him when he said he'd be a space pilot. And yet as years passed, he learnt the maps of the sky by heart; he joined the Garrison at sixteen, freshly out of high school, and lived and breathed space ever since.

Two years ago, he wouldn't believe anyone who said he'd spend a week in the planetary system of one of the lightest stars in the night sky; now it doesn't surprise him as much. He just tries hard not to think about the fact that they're almost seventeen light years from the Earth.

Due to the closeness of the star and the dusty desert landscape, the planet never gets a proper night, but not a proper day either; as it turns around its sun, the sky changes colours from a pale pink to dried-blood red, always illuminated by one or other of the moons which cross the sky in succession.

"Coran says we're here just in time for a-- he called it a fabulous astronomical occurence," a familiar voice reaches him as Keith settles down next to him on the warm sand, his jacket gone in favour of a simple black training top and his hair still slightly damp from what Shiro assumes was a sparring session with the castle dummies; a very, very distracting sight, but he's not going to comment on that - not right now, anyway. "Apparently all the moons go in eclipse all at once," Keith adds after a moment, brow furrowing.

Shiro chuckles.

"I've read about it, once" he replies, his tone easy as he wraps an arm around Keith's shoulders. They're still stiff from the training; this is what you get without a proper warm-up, a small voice tuts in his head, but for once he doesn't care about correcting his underclassman - they're both seasoned pilots by now and offending Keith wouldn't do him any good, anyway, so he decides to focus on the warmth against his side and the way the desert dust colors Keith in warm shades of red and brown. "Altair is both close and far enough to cause the planet to cast shadow on all three moons at once, but this happens only once in three to four hundred years," he adds with a small smile.

"Uh-- yeah, I suppose it is. Never been the one to pay attention to that." Keith says; Shiro turns his eyes back to the sky as he feels the other paladin settle in against his side, their legs pressed together and fingers of one hand twined loosely. He flexes his fingers and then unflexes, runs a thumb over the top of Keith's palm before he thinks twice about what he's doing; only after he realizes that Keith is at his right and the hand he's holding is-- well, the blasted Galra hand.

What surprises him is that Keith seems to pay it no mind, linking and unlinking their fingers idly as if what he held wasn't a metal prosthetic made from enemy materials, but real, living flesh. It's almost as if he didn't care; the thought that he really might not - might see beyond what Shiro himself fears defines him - is a pleasant warmth spreading in his belly.

Shiro has to bite his lip from smiling too wide at that.

"It's starting," Keith says in a whisper, leaning his head towards Shiro, their temples touching briefly. It's true; when Shiro turns his eyes back to the sky, the moons seem to slowly disappear in an uneven, spherical shape - and slowly they're hidden more and more, taking on an almost brownish hue, barely visible against the red sky until they disappear completely for a few minutes. Shiro doesn't blink the entire time, amazed at how something so simple can be almost unimaginable for people from Earth; how he'd like to show it to his family one day, even though it's impossible - or, nearly impossible - without a spaceship castle and a crew of lions.

Well, he's terribly lucky, then.

Keith is a solid presence against his side and Shiro does his best not to get distracted by that; his fingers travel up and down the other's forearm, a soft, absentminded caress. He knows Keith is not exactly fond of physical closeness; neither is Shiro - at least now, because he used to be so much more, before the Galra-- before everything happened, he thinks - but sometimes they both need a reminder that the other is here, now; an unchanging presence, a momentary comfort during the war they both brave through.

The moons rise back from the darkness, slowly uncovered as Altair moves away on the opposite side of their little planet, and when Shiro turns his head to speak to him his lips meet the corner of Keith's mouth instead, still curled up in a small half-smile; and for a split second, he forgets to breathe.

"Thank you for deciding to see it with me," he says, his fingers squeezing Keith's hand briefly. Keith doesn't respond, just looks at him with an unreadable expression; there is something behind his eyes that makes Shiro's heart stop, wait, skip-- but it might only be a flutter of his imagination.

There are no more words to be said after that; Keith presses closer to his side and Shiro buries his face in the mess of dark hair, watching the moons until the eclipse gives way to a clear skyline again.