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“What's going on?” Shiro asked as he glared at the four men in front of him. Keith was pressed in the middle of them, being marched out in handcuffs behind his back, eyes afraid and just as lost as Shiro, “Where are you taking him? Let Keith go.”

Another man within the group of the men looked him over, glancing at his grey Galaxy Garrison jacket. He seemed to hesitate for a moment before he cleared his throat.

“Officer Shirogane?”

“Yes, that's me,” Shiro stared over at Keith before his eyes traced back to the man, “Why?”

“We were told you may try to interfere with us,” the man stated flatly as he gazed at Shiro, “You can't be here right now.”

“Wait,” Shiro stepped forward as he saw Keith panicking a little, eyes wide and face pale, “Why did you grab Keith? You can't just arrest him. He's done nothing wrong.”

“Normally,” the man narrowed his eyes before he replied, “I could not. But the code and laws don't hold to someone who is an alien.”

“What do you mean?” Shiro demanded as he clenched his right fist, “Keith was born here, has been here all his life!”

“That's not what I meant.”

Shiro froze. Scrunching his brows in confusion, he stared at the man as it clicked at what they meant. The older man almost laughed out loud. There was no way. Keith was not an alien. He was born here. Born on Earth. His dad had died in a house fire, Keith had said so himself. His mom had run off and left before he could remember. This was ridiculous.

“This is not right,” Shiro frowned as he watched them, “Keith is no alien. What even makes you think that?”

“The blood tests.”

“Surely the tests messed up,” Shiro reasoned as he took another step closer only to stop when the four other with Keith looked a bit more twitchy, “People can have blood problems that set off the machines.”

“His blood is not fully human,” the man concluded as he started for the group, “I advise you to not tell anyone of this. No one needs to know. You aren't supposed to hear it.”

“Keith?” Shiro had to ask as he stepped forward.

“Shiro!” Keith exclaimed as he tried to pull away from the men around him, “Shiro! I swear I don't know what they're talking about. I didn't...I'm not...I'm…”

Shiro remembered that this was the young man who'd stolen his car back when they first met. He'd done it as an act to not get his hopes up. So another person would give up on him before they even knew him as usual. Watching his friend freaking out now over this cemented his belief in Keith. Keith didn't know what was going on. Those big, grey violet-tinted eyes told him all he needed to know.

“What are you going to do to him?” Shiro asked with worry clipping his voice, already knowing how people were about extraterrestrial beings.

“Some checkups,” the man responded as he moved on, “We need to know some things.”

“Let me go,” Keith glared as he attempted to yank out of the guards’ hands, not liking being manhandled as he was, “I didn't do anything wrong! I'm not an alien! Stop touching me!”

Shiro moved forward again only for the man to place his hand on Shiro's chest to stop him. Shiro glared at him.

“Go back to your room,” he sent Shiro a look, “This never happened.”

“But,” Shiro started only for the other four to lead Keith away. The raven-haired late teen let out a growl as he tried to get out of their hold. He started making louder noises as he tried to push the men away even with the restraints. Shiro knew Keith was acting aggressive because he was afraid. But the group apparently didn't think so as they placed a container in front of Keith's face which sprayed something. Keith fought for a few moments before he calmed down, no longer fighting them as they strolled to a vehicle nearby. As they hopped in, Shiro pushed past the man.

“Keith!” He called a few more times before he twirled on the man, “You didn't have to do that. He wasn't going to do anything! He's scared!”

“He's also an alien,” the man gave him a raised brow before stepping into the passenger seat, “And we don't know how he'd act.”

The car pulled out with a puff of dust. Shiro coughed as the sand kicked up in his face. Frowning after the fading group, he went to the only person he could talk to about this. Iverson was in his office, and Shiro demanded to know what was happening with Keith. When the man didn't answer anything more than the other had Shiro left.

Storming back into the officer lounge apartment, he saw Adam sitting on the seat by the counter. He sighed as he grabbed some water, plopping down on the seat next to his boyfriend with a glower at his cup.

“You okay?” Adam asked as Shiro kept his gaze on the glass in his hands, “Everything fine? Your disease isn't acting up again is it?”

“It's not that,” Shiro muttered before going silent. A few moments went by before Shiro heard Adam leaning over toward him in the seat.

“Takashi?”

“Adam,” Shiro frowned deeper as he remembered Keith being taken away. He had to do something. He couldn't let them hurt his best friend, “It's Keith.”

“What did he do this time?” Shiro heard the frown in his boyfriend's voice and set his glass down. He turned back to the other.

“Nothing,” Shiro's brows furrowed as he stared at Adam. Keith hadn't been bad after that first fight, and Shiro couldn't blame him after hearing what Cadet Griffin had said, “He was arrested for something they found with his blood tests.”

“Is he taking drugs or something?” Adam asked curiously as he stared at Shiro who was getting frustrated at the direction the questions were going, “You got him in, and you gave him a chance. That's sometimes the best you can do.”

“No,” Shiro frowned as he gazed at the other man, “I'm not giving up on him. I told him I wouldn't. And he didn't do anything wrong.”

“Shiro,” Adam sighed as he took off his glasses, “Takashi...Why are you doing this?”

“Doing what?”

“It's bad enough that you are thinking of taking the Kerberos mission,” he looked away from Shiro who stared at his cup again, “But you're going to destroy your career for a kid you barely know.”

“Adam, don't start this again,” Shiro blinked as he sighed tiredly, having heard similar statements from the other for months upon months now, “I've known Keith for over two years now. I know he's a good guy.”

“Are you picking him over me?” Adam's voice dipped, “How important am I to you?”

“Adam,” Shiro stared numbly as he heard the other man shift to get up, “It's not that. Keith's innocent. I can't let them do anything bad to him.”

“Takashi,” the brown-haired man sighed again as Shiro saw his bag move from the corner of his eye, “I can't go through this again. Something's always more important to you. The Kerberos mission, beating the records, this kid.”

Shiro held onto his water tightly as Adam's boots echoed away from him.

“Don't expect me to be here when you get back,” Adam stated as the door opened. Shiro let him leave as he slumped onto the counter. Adam and he had been having lots of problems lately from his disease to how often he hung out with Keith to the upcoming mission. He couldn't blame Adam for putting himself over their relationship. Shiro was doing the same.

Grabbing his tablet, he dialed someone.

“Hey, Matt,” he greeted when the connection went through to Commander Holt’s son, “I need your help…”

…..

Shiro followed Matt's instructions, sneaking by passing patrols and activating doors as the slightly younger man helped. Shiro only had to explain that he needed to get Keith out of there, and Matt was helping him without question. He rushed off to the left, ducking into a corner as Matt did something. A loud blaring noise started out of nowhere. The alarm for intruders.

Waiting as a handful of people rushed by him, Shiro moved onto the room. He repeated the process at least four times before he came across a door. The door was locked, but as Shiro gave Matt the signal, it flashed green and popped open. Pushing it aside, Shiro prepared himself for what he'd see.

Inside was a blank room. In the middle was a table with equipment around it. On the table was his best friend, tied down by straps on his chest, wrists, knees, and ankles. There was an IV in his left hand that was dripping liquid every few seconds. Shiro rushed to the young man before pulling the restraints off.

Keith seemed aware of him, eyes opening slowly as he stared at Shiro. Even though Shiro could see no obvious wounds, he saw that Keith was in some pain as the other made a small sound as Shiro peeled him off of the gurney. Getting a good look at Keith's chest under the plain black shirt, Shiro almost growled at what he saw. It had only been nine hours since Keith had been taken, but there were already long cuts along his skin. Shiro didn't need to see it all to know the shape it was. There were a few bruises on his face and wrists, so Shiro knew he'd fought as hard as he could to get free.

“Sh-Shiro?” Keith squinted at him before he painstakingly glanced around the room and back, “What a-are you…?”

“I'm getting you out of here,” Shiro smiled softly as he watched Keith blink sluggishly, “Come on. Let's get out of here.”

“‘kay,” Keith nodded as he leaned against the older man, hissing in pain as they started out the door. Shiro frowned as he carefully laid his hands around Keith's hip and shoulder. Every new doorway, the younger slumped a little more. Shiro guided him out, going over to a hoverbike nearby. Hearing noises in the background, he gently laid Keith in front of him before hopping onto it. Hitting the throttle, he flipped it around and took off.

Luckily, no one followed them as Shiro drove off a cliff. Landing it, he slowed down enough to get a good look at Keith. He was slumped against the other's chest with his head against Shiro's shoulder. He was out of it, eyes hazy as he stared into the distance. Shiro sighed silently before he continued forward.

About an hour in, Shiro felt Keith patting his shoulder. Slowing the machine to a stop, he glanced at the other who frowned up at him before looking around.

“There's so-somewhere we can g-go,” he stuttered in what Shiro knew to be pain, “Not f-far.”

“Okay,” Shiro nodded as he started forward before getting an idea. Placing each of Keith's hands on his own knees, he instructed Keith to guide him where to turn by pressing on his legs. The boy was already out of it and needed to save his energy. The fact that he didn't even try to argue only made it more serious to Shiro.

Pulling up to a picket fence that had only a few boards up, he parked the vehicle by the shed. Pulling the boy into his arms and wincing when he whimpered, he went to the door. Not sure if the place was abandoned or not, he cautiously opened the door. Inside was dusty with sand particles floating through the air as they crossed into the room. Shutting the door with his foot, he gazed around and found a ratty couch near the window. Carrying Keith to it, he laid him down on it on his back before looking around for a blanket and pillow. Finding them, he draped the plain blanket over Keith and the musky pillow behind his head. His best friend barely moved, breath coming out tiny huffs.

Checking the wounds, he added medication, food, and first aid kit supplies to his mental list. The stitches looked fine, but Shiro didn't want Keith getting an infection. The large cuts would scar as it was. Shaking the other awake, Shiro stared into sleepy eyes as Keith hummed softly.

“I have to go, buddy,” Shiro stated as he placed his hand on Keith's shoulder, “I need to get some stuff and report back to the base so they don't get suspicious. I'll be back in a day or less. Just stay in bed and rest.”

“‘Kay,” Keith nodded before his eyes slipped shut and he fell asleep. Shiro watched his pained expression for a moment before he went back to the door. Shutting it, he got on the hoverbike and headed back to the Garrison.

…..

Shiro visited Keith often after that. He brought Keith supplies to eat, water, and better sleeping clothes and house stuff. On those visits, he would talk to Keith about anything and everything, finding ways to cheer the isolated teen up. The first few times were strange between Keith being sick from his injuries to getting used to being in the shack. As Shiro predicted, the wounds did heal and scar, leaving a large Y on his chest. On days when his disease wasn't acting up worse than usual, Shiro and Keith would spar. Keith was good at fighting but lacked the patience to wait his attacks out.

“Patience yields focus."

“I know.”

A few months after they first arrived, Shiro caught Keith in the middle of a nap out under the tree in the backyard. Chuckling as he settled down by him, he watched the light filter through the leaves in splotches on Keith's face. Keith looked much younger when he was asleep, free of his past problems. Free of his dad's death, his mom's abandonment, the Home, the bullies, the scientists prying into him.

Shiro felt regret course his veins. If only he had gotten to Keith sooner. If only he had done something when they had taken Keith. If only Shiro had been notified beforehand so he could have snuck Keith out. If only-

“It wasn't your fault,” Keith's voice interrupted as Shiro looked into his violet eyes, “It wasn't.”

“Keith-"

“You saved me, Shiro,” Keith smiled gratefully as he tilted his head to the side, “And you're still here even after finding out I'm not...fully human.”

“We don't know-"

“I don't doubt it,” Keith stared at him, voice more serious than Shiro had ever heard it before, “It makes sense. Why my mom wasn't around. Why I can't understand people stuff. Why I'm not…”

Shiro frowned, knowing where this was going as Keith let out a small sob. Shiro pulled the other into a hug and Keith cried softly, hardly making a sound. It went on for a while as Shiro rubbed his back soothingly.

“I'm not giving up on you,” Shiro stated firmly as the other pulled away with a sniffle, “You're my friend, Keith. And you're important to me.”

“You too,” Keith stated as he brushed his tears away, “I won't give up on you.”

“Okay,” Shiro grinned before he pulled something out of his pocket and presented it to Keith, “Here's something for you.”

It was a picture that Shiro had gotten printed in town from one of the times they had been together in Keith's shack. Shiro was wearing his leather jacket, and Keith a red crop-top jacket. Keith had been looking a book over while Shiro had taken a picture of him. The noise had pulled the younger from his book and eventually, they had shared a pic.

“Thanks, Shiro,” Keith grinned and Shiro felt his own lips turn up, “This means a lot to me.”

“I know.”

…..

Then came the day he dreaded. Shiro was going on the Kerberos mission. He had yet to tell Keith that.

He had wanted to, but every time he went to, it wasn't a good moment. He'd make up excuses like possibly not getting on the mission. He'd leave it for another day. He'd do it later.

But he eventually had to tell Keith. He really regretted not saying it on a better day. As soon as he had walked through the doorway, he'd known something was wrong. Keith was on the couch, sleeping. He was tossing and turning, hands clenched to the mattress beneath him. Sweat clung to his pale face as he shook his head.

“Stop it,” his breath came out erratically as he cried. Shiro nearly dropped everything he was holding as he rushed to the other's side. Gently shaking the younger's shoulder, Shiro muttered some words.

“Come on, Keith,” Shiro frowned as Keith shook more, “It's just a dream. Wake up. Come on.”

“What are you doing?” Keith panicked as he started to fight Shiro, pushing at the other frantically, “Stop it...Shiro. Shiro!”

Shiro didn't know what to do. Keith's nightmares had never been this bad. The late teen had never called out like that before. Doing the only thing he could think of, he carefully placed his hands on Keith's face. Rubbing his thumbs across sweaty cheekbones, he watched as Keith settled a bit. Before he could do anything, the younger's eyes opened.

Shiro blinked in surprise. The purple orbs Shiro were used to were now small slits. The whites of Keith's eyes were a yellowish color. As Keith panted a little, small sharpened fangs stuck out of his mouth. Shiro raised a brow at that.

This must be whatever alien heritage Keith had showing. Shiro thought it was kind of cute in a way. He looked like a cat.

Keith blinked and his eyes were back to normal. He glanced from a poster in the corner to Shiro.

“What?”

“It was just a nightmare,” Shiro reassured as he took both shaking hands into his, “You're okay.”

“Oh,” Keith relaxed into the couch, “I was dreaming. I was back there.”

“You don't have to say anything,” the older expressed with a firm stare, “It's okay.”

“I need to get it out,” Keith grunted as Shiro helped him sit up as the younger leaned on him, “I was back there and they were cutting my skin open. It hurt a lot. You showed up.”

Shiro blinked. Keith went on.

“You tried to get me out of there, but they knocked you out,” Keith glanced at him worriedly, “They wouldn't listen to me as they dragged you away. I told them you had no idea. They didn't listen.”

“It's okay,” Shiro hugged Keith close, “I'm here. You're fine.”

“I know,” Keith leaned further into Shiro’s side as the bigger wrapped an arm around him, “I know.”

It was silent for a moment as they sat there. Eventually, Shiro sighed inwardly before facing Keith.

“I wanted to tell you sooner,” Shiro smiled apologetically as Keith tilted his head, “But I could never find the right time. I’m going...I’m going on the Kerberos mission.”

Keith just stared before a tiny smile covered his lips.

“I’m proud of you, Shiro,” his best friend smiled as he hugged him loosely, “I know you’ll do great.”

“Thanks,” Shiro felt himself smile softly, glad his friend was behind the decision even with his disease that Shiro had told him about a month ago, “I leave in a few days.”

“How long?”

“A year at most,” Shiro nodded as he calculated it in his head, “It takes about five months to get there, a month on the icy moon, five to get back.”

“Okay,” Keith nodded as his cheek rested against Shiro’s shoulder, “I’ll be here when you get back.”

“I count on it,” Shiro chuckled as he laid his head against Keith’s, “I will be here as soon as I can be.”

“Shiro?”

“Yeah?”

“Can you spend one day out here before you go?” The younger asked as he glanced up through his long bangs. He looked hopeful, eyes full of stars that Shiro couldn’t have said no even if he wanted to.

“I can figure something out,” Shiro reassured him as he grinned, “I’ll be here. Maybe I can spend the night?”

“I’d like that,” Keith yawned as he settled even more onto Shiro. The older man snickered as he quickly and carefully grabbed the blanket that had fallen to the floor before wrapping it around them.

“Get some rest, Keith,” Shiro smiled as his friend fell asleep.

…..

Shiro woke to shining lights blinding him. He glanced around slowly as he took in everything around him. He ached deeply in a way that only the Arena could cause. As he turned his head to the right, he noticed that his body was restrained by glowing cuffs. Panicking, he fought to get out of them, only draining his energy in doing so. He glanced left to see an alien standing there with a mask on, glowing yellow eyes piercing him.

A Galra.

This is what Keith must have felt when he was strapped to the experimentation table. Shiro knew it to be true when a saw was aligned with his right arm. As he froze in fear, he heard the group of Galra mutter something back and forth to each other before he started to drift. But he couldn’t go to sleep enough to escape the pain. The saw made loud noises like a breaking hoverbike as agony washed over his arm. It hurt worse than his disease ever had. It burned like fire as he heard someone scream in pain.

After an eternity like this, everything went black.

…..

Shiro stared at the arm. It wasn’t his. It probably never would be his, and he wasn’t sure if he ever wanted to call it such. He could feel himself clenching it, but the cool grey metal was so foreign that Shiro couldn’t help but stare. He wasn’t sure how long he watched it before he felt a familiar hand on his shoulder. He smiled as he turned to the one person he knew so well.

Keith was a little taller, grown in his time away from him. His hair was longer, more wild looking than it had been a while ago. He smiled softly back at Shiro before he scowled with concern all over his face.

“What happened out there?” He asked with his brows moved down, “Where were you?”

Before Shiro could utter anything, Keith glanced at his arm. He face went dark, and Shiro knew his friend had guessed exactly what had happened to him.

“Did they…?” Keith trailed off, giving Shiro an opening to not talk about it.

“I wish I could tell you,” Shiro glanced forward into the sunrise, trying to think back but only getting brief flashes that made him lose his breath, “My head’s still pretty scrambled. I remember I was on an alien ship, and I escaped somehow...everything else is a blur.”

He glanced at Keith who only nodded in understanding. Shiro relaxed a bit as they both watched the rising sun, one he hadn’t seen in over a year. Keith knew how it felt to lose something. To be someone foreign from everything he knew. To be tied to a table and cut open. To be hurt.

“How’d you know to come save me?” He asked out of nowhere as he remembered that he had crashed quite a ways away from Keith’s shack. Turning to the younger, he saw him start back for the small building.

“There’s something you should see.”

…..

They were on Sendak’s ship. Shiro turned down a hallway as Keith marched in front of him, Pidge behind them both. They needed to find the Red Lion and get out as fast as possible. They had to get Voltron formed so this innocent planet wouldn’t get destroyed like so many others had. Shiro could feel something creep upon him as he froze. A flash of memories hit him all at once as his breath got caught in his throat.

Faces flew before his eyes, big with yellow eyes and tiny irises. Another flash had senteries rushing at him along with a few Galran soldiers armed with lasers. Another wave of light and a large Galra stood there with a huge floating arm. He stared at Shiro with a wicked smirk, sharp teeth glistening in the dark hall as his wicked laughter echoed through Shiro’s brain.

“Shiro!” A voice stated from his side as he shook his head, senses fading back to normal as he saw red armor in the corner of his eye, “It’s okay. You’re not there anymore.”

“Keith,” Shiro breathed out weakly as his lungs burned from lack of air, “I...I remember this place. I’ve been on this ship before.”

And they needed to get the fuck out of there! Sendak was bad news, and Shiro didn’t want the paladins or Keith caught by the sadistic man.

Pidge soon joined in, claiming that his father and brother were the ones with him on the Kerberos Mission. That felt like a lifetime ago, Shiro couldn’t recall the Commander or Matt having a male relative. Just Colleen and Katie. Before long, he knew what he had to do. They had to split up.

“By myself?” Keith asked, eyes lost and worried as Shiro placed a hand on his shoulder, “But what if-”

“I’ll be fine,” Shiro reassured as he smiled back, “You can do this. I know you can. Just remember that patience yields focus. So-”

The bots interrupted them before he could finish.

“RUN!”

Shiro raced away as Keith rushed in the opposite direction.

…..

Shiro was back there. The Arena was packed full of screaming Galra who cheered for bloodshed and angry murder. Shiro could see his arm lighting up vivid purple as his opponent rushed at him. He couldn’t make out what species it was. Every second, it’s features changed to something else, sometimes mixing with several aliens at once. Shiro ducked and slammed his hand down on its leg as he moved back out of its way. A long slash of blood splattered along the column behind him as the alien screeched. Shiro ran to the other side before he tore into its side, more blood running free. Pulling back, he froze as he saw the alien flicker to a bit. A long sharp claw raced for him, slashing across his nose, making him bleed as he cried out.

Needing to put an end to it, he rushed forward and punched his fist through its torso. More blood leaked through over his hand and wrist, slick as oil as Shiro started to pull back. He blinked when the blood turned red. Glancing up from his limb, he froze and instantly felt sick to his stomach.

It was Keith. The other was standing there with a stunned look on his face. Shiro quickly pulled his hand away as he stared at Keith who tried to say something. Nothing left his lips as scarlet dripped from his mouth. He caved as Shiro caught him, both falling to their knees. Shiro pulled him close as he settled over him.

“Keith!” Shiro shouted as tears gathered on his lashes, “Keith.

Keith’s eyes glanced at him slowly, flickering between white and yellow as his breathing slowed down. Shiro gripped his dying friend closer as the sand below them was drenched in blood, some of it flowing onto his knees. Shiro let out a sob as he held him tightly, feeling no breath from the younger. He killed him. Sendak was right. He was a monster.

“Just face it,” Zarkon’s witch stood in front of him, enveloped in darkness except for her eyes, “You’re our greatest weapon! You’ll never be anything other than that! You are not fit to be a paladin!”

She was right. They were all right. Shiro killed Keith. He would only destroy everything he touched. He shouldn’t have lasted this long. It was no wonder why his love life was so bad. Why Adam walked away. Why no one thought him capable of doing anything. Why he was weak.

Because this was the alternative. If he had stayed back, he’d still be on Earth. Adam and he would have talked things out. Keith...Keith would be alive. Shiro let out a cry as he rested his head on Keith’s own. Blood covered his face, but he didn’t care. It was already all over him.

“Shiro!” A voice called out to him, but he ignored it as he stared down at his now-cold, blood-covered hand, “Shiro! Wake up!”

Wake up? What was there to wake up to? His only friend, his family, was gone because of him. What else could he wake up to? Why would he want to wake up? The blood was still wet as some more tears fell on Keith’s still, pale face.

“Takashi,” the same voice spoke softly this time, heartbroken and scared, “Wake up. Come on. It’s just a dream.”

Shiro felt himself lurch upright as he woke with a start. His breathing was too quick, making his head swim as he curled in on himself. He stared at his hand only to see it was clean. There was no blood anywhere to be seen, and the lights were on, bright blue. Shiro felt someone hugging him by his side as he calmed down, barely willing to glance to the side.

It was Keith. He was okay, frowning worriedly by his side. He was dressed in his usual clothes, bare of his jacket and belt as he held the older. There was no blood on him at all, and Shiro buried his head into his shoulder.

“I was back there,” he panted as Keith rubbed his back, “And…”

“It’s okay,” Keith reassured him as Shiro let loose a couple of tears, sweat cooling his body, “You don’t have to say anything.”

“You were there,” Shiro could hear the small hum Keith released at the news, “And I...I killed you...I’m sorry.”

“Hey,” Shiro felt Keith tip his head up as his glanced at the other who stared back with a determined yet kind expression, “You would never hurt me, Shiro.”

“But-”

“I know you would never harm me,” Keith smiled as Shiro calmed down more, “You helped me a lot. At least let me help you. You’re not alone in this.”

“I know,” Shiro nodded as he started to fade back into sleep as he felt Keith lay them both down. Hands weaved through his hair, making him feel better and more at peace. Warmth settled right by his side as Keith pulled him close.

“Just rest.”

Shiro did.

…..

“The only way that is possible is if Galra blood runs through your veins.”

Shiro stared at Keith. He had not reacted to the news, but it was expected. They had known he wasn’t fully human for about two years now. They just never really figured that he had the blood of the race that was trying to wipe out everyone else.

They were meeting with the rest of the group now, Kolivan and Antok with them from the base. Keith had yet to say much at all, but Shiro could see the news dragging him down along with the injuries he’d gotten. Shiro wished he knew how to help, but it wasn’t really his place to do anything. All he could do was be there for his best friend.

“And your Red Paladin,” the leader of the Blade started only for Allura to disrupt.

“My Red Paladin what?” She asked as she stared the Galran down hard, “You have two of my paladins go in unarmed, and one comes back injured. Of course, that’s what you all do, right? Hurt others.”

Shiro saw Keith staring at her with a frown. Shiro didn’t like where this was going. He opened his mouth to reprimand the princess when Keith spoke up, as bold and blunt as ever.

“I’m Galra.”

The room went silent. The three youngest stood with large eyes watching the Red Paladin who refused to meet their eyes. Coran frowned softly as he looked from the younger to the Altean to his front. Said Altean frowned deeply as she nearly hissed.

“You’re what?”

“I’m Galra,” Keith stated firmly as he leaned against the wall, “Or at least, part-Galran.”

“How long?”

“Allura,” Shiro started to interrupt before she stepped forward angrily, “Don-”

“How long have you known!” She demanded as she marched closer to the raven-haired man, “You’ve been deceiving us this whole time, haven’t you!”

“Princess-” Lance frowned as he moved forward a little, frowning in concern.

“I’ve known this whole time,” Keith spoke as he stared at her, voice unchanging, “I knew I wasn’t fully human...didn’t know about being Galra.”

“You’re lying,” she glared as she shook her head, “You had to have known you were Galra.”

“He didn’t,” Shiro responded as Keith gave him an exhausted look, “He didn’t until we went to the base.”

“But you suspected it,” Pidge spoke grimly as they all stared at him.

“Yes,” Shiro admitted as Keith sent him a hurt expression, “I figured it out.”

“When?”

“When I was captured by them,” Shiro grimaced before he stared at the others, “That’s why I knew Ulaz was a good guy. Keith was the one to show me that not all Galra are bad.”

“All Galra cannot be trusted,” the princess scoffed as she glared right at Keith who stared back with a neutral face, one that Shiro knew meant this hurt more than the physical wounds on his body, “And I hope they are never happy.”

She rushed out of the room. Coran frowned as he followed her, muttering apologies as he left, making sure to carefully lay a hand on Keith’s shoulder on the way by. The younger flinched as he hugged himself tightly.

“She doesn’t mean it. Give her time.”

The three youngest stared in shock at everything that had happened. The two Blades shared a look as they started for the exit.

“We’ll be back in a quintant,” Kolivan stated as he glanced back, “Perhaps the princess will feel differently by that time.”

Before the door closed, the leader stared right at Keith.

“Good luck, paladin,” the doors closed as they stood there in silence. Shiro could see that the past two days were catching up to Keith as the younger started to sag to the floor. Shiro hurried to his side, offering him support as Keith leaned against him.

“Keith-”

“Don’t.”

“What she said-”

“It’s fine,” Keith stared ahead ignoring the other three and even Shiro, “It’s not like it’s the first time.”

Shiro frowned before another voice spoke up.

“It wasn’t right what she said,” Pidge stated sternly as she moved closer, “You deserve to be happy, Keith.”

“Yeah, man,” Lance nodded as he frowned at the door, “I know I pick on you a little, but it’s kinda cool that your part-Galran. This doesn’t really change much.”

“Ditto, man,” Hunk agreed as he stood next to Keith, “I said we were brothers. I still mean it. You’re our friend and we care about you.”

“Thanks, guys,” Keith stated tiredly before he leaned all the way into Shiro’s side, “That means a lot to me.”

“Group hug?”

“Yeah, no,” Pidge responded as she stared at the Red Paladin, “He looks too injured at the moment. I think he needs a pod more.”

“No,” Keith grumbled, eyes closed and a frown on his face.

“Keith,” Shiro shook his head as he smiled and pulled the other into his arms, “I’ll get him to bed.”

No one questioned it. They all sent him concerned looks before exiting the room. Shiro looked at the younger’s bruised and scraped face before he took him to their mostly shared bedroom. Keith was going to have some bad nightmares. Shiro would be there to help him through it.

…..

Shiro hugged the other close. Keith buried his nose into the side of his neck, a habit he had since their earlier days. It always seemed to comfort the other, and Shiro was sure it was a Galra thing, but he didn’t care at that moment. If he could comfort Keith, he would. He wished they had more time to just explore this side of Keith, to get him to feel more comfortable with himself. But they didn’t. This was war, and they didn’t have time for anything Shiro wanted to discuss with Keith. Shiro smiled softly as he held the other a bit tighter, letting him know that no matter what, he had Keith’s back. He loved him no matter what.

Keith tightened his hold, silently telling Shiro the same thing before they split apart, a grateful smile on his face.

Shiro smiled back as he gazed into violet eyes. He really did love Keith. He was sure of it. Alien or not, Keith was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Hopefully, they would get that chance someday.