“Shiro, find me a tub.”
From his seat next to the hospital bed, Shiro looked up.
Keith nodded. “A bathtub.”
He was sitting up in bed, thin cotton sheet gathering around his hips. His hair was a mess around the bandage that surrounded his head. His eyes weren’t as sharp as they were before the crash, floating across the room until they landed on Shiro. The mixture of heavy pain meds and his throbbing concussion would leave him out of it for a few more weeks.
“Somewhere private,” Keith added as an afterthought. “With a door that locks. Please.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Shiro didn’t have to ask why. The Garrison bathing facilities were mostly dormitory-like public showers, high in functionality and low in comfort. Knowing Keith, a prescription for bedrest would serve only to make him more restless to get out. While Shiro would usually give Keith the space and autonomy he needed to feel better, he took this instance more seriously. Keith’s injuries were bad. Recovery would be strenuous without the aid of Altean healing pods. He needed to listen to his doctors. A break from the stress and trauma of the past few years would do him good, and Shiro assigned himself to patient duty to make sure Keith got it.
“I’m sure you could ask them to build a brand new bathroom and they’d scramble to get it done in two hours flat,” Keith pointed out.
“Why’s that?” Shiro asked, chuckling.
“You’re the hero of the universe, defender of Planet Earth, Captain of the Atlas. You could ask tell them to elect you as the next president of the world and they’d bend themselves backwards to rename every country The United States of Shirogane.” Keith gestured widely with both arms, then flopped them back down at his sides. The look he gave Shiro was hazy but adorable. Shiro couldn’t help but smile.
“Let’s just start with a bathtub and see where that lands us.”
Shiro stood to leave, but not before leaning down to plant a soft kiss on Keith’s pillow-mussed hair.
There was a bathtub, wedged between two senior officers’ dorms. Shiro was granted permission to use it without questions asked or even a second glance.
Keith rested his hand on the floating arm to steady himself as they walked down the hall. His hospital slippers slid against the smooth, plain floors. In Shiro’s other arm, he held a fluffy white towel, a fresh set of hospital pajamas, and unscented soap.
When they reached the private bathroom, Shiro entered a code in the side panel that locked the door until they were finished. He heard Keith let out a happy sigh.
“Thanks for helping,” he said, shuffling over to the tub. It was one of those deep ones with a bench inside and a side door. Shiro gathered that it was installed for those who were too handicapped for a standing shower.
“You could use a little luxury. You earned it.”
After setting down the supplies, Shiro stepped up to Keith and began delicately unwrapping the bandage from around his head. He heard Keith breathe out something like “you too” but didn’t ask him to elaborate. Underneath the gauze, the stitches at the side of Keith’s skull still looked fresh and red, but at least they were clean. Keith stood still as Shiro worked.
“Have you been taking your antibiotics?”
Keith nodded. “And the morphiods.”
“So that’s why you’ve been moving like you’re swimming through molasses,” Shiro teased. “I’m going to tell the nurse to keep an eye on your dosage.”
“Hey, you just said I deserve a little luxury.”
“I did. And you do.” Shiro dragged his hands up Keith’s sides, taking his shirt with them. “I just don’t want you to go from Keith, the Black Paladin to Keith, the drug addict.”
Keith rolled his eyes, lacking the attitude needed to make it effective. He let Shiro slowly and carefully pull the shirt over his head, and it was left on the counter next to the sink. Before Shiro could get to his pants, Keith slumped into his chest and pillowed his head on his human shoulder. Shiro paused, hands still hovering in the air, then relaxed and hugged Keith against him.
“Hey,” Shiro whispered into his hair. “No falling asleep until we get you into the water. I can do the rest of the work from there.”
Keith’s arms went around Shiro’s middle, hands grasping the back of his uniform as a way of holding himself up.
“Don’t work. Just join me,” Keith slurred against his collar. “You’re off duty.”
Shiro pretended to consider it, only because he already knew that he would love to enjoy a relaxing bath with Keith, locked away from everything else, pretending that it was all over.
“You always know just the right thing to say,” he said through a smile.
Keith hummed happily. As much as Shiro wanted to keeping standing there and holding Keith, he had now two bodies to undress, so he pulled away from the sluggish embrace. He finished stripping Keith before starting with his own uniform. Getting used to the new shoulder was a tiring process. All of his clothes had to be altered to fit the mechanism. His jacket took the longest, but the rest was easier.
As the layers came off, Shiro felt himself shedding the worry that he carried around with him since Kerberos. Maybe even before that. He would never be able to not worry, but Keith standing there with him, battered as he was now, Shiro could allow himself these moments of reprieve.
He didn’t know when, but Keith’s hands were helping him. His beautiful dark eyes tried their best to focus in his haze, lips forming a pout of concentration. Wordlessly, they piled their clothes together on the counter. Keith’s fingers brushed Shiro’s jaw before he moved to step into the tub.
Washing came first. Shiro methodically cleaned Keith’s body and hair, and by the time he finished, the water was filled with a satisfying amount of pearly suds. They lounged opposite of the bench, Shiro with his back against the porcelain and Keith between his knees, reclining back against his chest.
Shiro left the floating arm on the counter, and he used his remaining hand to trace lazily along the planes of Keith’s chest and stomach. He could have fallen asleep from how relaxing it was, but he was supposed to be the alert one taking care of Keith.
“When this is all over,” Keith mused, sounding drunk and happy, “let’s get a big tub like this.”
“Oh yeah?” Shiro said against the top of Keith’s ear with a smile. “And where would we find the space to put it in your tiny shack?”
“We’d build a big addition. More bedrooms, more bathrooms. A whole-ass spa. A real kitchen.” Keith swept his hand in a slow arc in front of him, showing Shiro his vision. “We need all that with how big our family’s gotten.”
Shiro dimly wondered if a side effect of Keith’s pain medication was uncharacteristic sentimentality. Not that he was opposed to it at all. In fact, he couldn’t help the big grin that spit over his face at the mention of all those ‘we’s.
“That’s right,” Shiro said, tightening his arm around Keith and dipping his head to kiss down his neck.
Keith raised a hand behind them and held onto the back of Shiro’s head, arching into his mouth.
After some weak wobbling, maybe a little accidental splashing, Keith managed to roll over and lay on Shiro so they were chest to chest. The look of love in Keith’s galaxy eyes told Shiro that he could probably never untangle him from his veins, and that was just how he wanted it.
He leaned down, and Keith met him in the middle. Their kiss was so much like all the others, unhurried, easy as breathing. Every touch meant something.
“You look happy,” Keith said, looking up with his chin on his chest.
Shiro squeezed him.
“You don’t even know.”