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Behind the curtains

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"I fucking don't care, I will never go to that hell of a ballroom!"

Keith rolled his eyes at that. Again. Everytime there was some important galactic meeting, Shiro was over stressing and started swearing unnecessarily. His long ears twotched on his head at the sight of the human being so overhelmed by the situation.

"You'll go," he sighed, "you'll talk with those people and have a cool night and maybe hook up with a man or two and then we'll go back on Earth as usual, ok?"

"But I can't dance!"

"What in the hell are you talking about?"

"It's a ball, Keith!"

Said Keith shrugged, blinking at Shiro. He crossed his arms on his chest, sighing again and stared at the control panel of the small ship he'd put on auto-mode for the biggest part of the journey.

"What's wrong with it being a ball?" he asked. He didn't really mind after all, but for sure Shiro was quite afraid of it and needed to talk about the oh-so-terrible thing that a ball was. As Shiro's bodyguard since his childhood, Keith didn't take parts of all that meetings thing that SHiro had to go through fo years now. Everytime the tall man had to deal wit his obligation as a Earth representant, it just made things funny. Shiro was someone particularly uneasy around too many people. Even if he was nice and sweet, those meetings weren't his thing -he just didn't have any choice.

"I can't dance!" Shiro hisse between his teeth and Keith let the silence fell between the two of them.

The cockpit was small, but big enough for the two of them to sit side by side. Sometimes, Shiro's shoulder brushed his and it was uncomfortable to think that there wasn't more room at the moment if he wanted to sleep. Keith needed a lot of room when he slept, tending to spread all his members until he looked like a star with four long arms.

"Dance?" Keith eyed Shiro. "Who the hell told you to fucking dance tonight?"

"Coran said it in the videocall! Didn't you hear him when he-"

"Coran's too extrem, Shiro, stop believing his shit everytime he sends you some invitation for their parties."

"But the ball-"

"-is an excuse?" Keith sighed again. "It's gonna be as usual, I told you."

Keith knew it by heart.

About every two months, there were those intergalactic meetings hold by King Alfor -or rather his chancellor Coran took great care of everything each time. The ginger Altean was funny and annoying at once but those parties were quite a good occasion for Shiro to forget his daily life on Earth once in a while, so Keith alsways took great care in forcing him to go.

But Keith, himself, didn't mind that much. He wasn't one to have fun in those places; he knew that the entire night, on his side, would be made out of checking if Shiro was alright, and meeting the other bodyguards. They all knew their job. They all would send the night doing the same thing : security. And the night would go on until they see the new moon rise up. As every time, Altea would glow under that weird blueish light from altean mornings. And as usual, Keith would have to bring Shiro's dead ass back to Earth.

As fucking usual. It would be some other annoying night being Shiro's bodyguard.

"Sorry for the trouble," Shiro suddenly mumbled.

"The hell are you saying?" Keith huffed. "

"You know. Altea. And Alteans."

"Coran is funny."

"Coran is an halfbreed and you know it. Of course he's funny. Alteans aren't funny."

"Shut up. I don't care about all that, you know it."

Shiro frowned at it and stared at Keith for a good few seconds. "Keith..."

"I'll just do my job," and with that, Keith's fangs slightly showed up, a fierce and dark light in his glowing eyes. "I don't mind about those fuckers."

Alteans weren't people who liked half-blooded ones. They had learned it over the years, Keith most particularly through a general behaviour toward him every time a party was hold by this race. Amazing, pretty Alteans were, to his eyes, the worst people ever, not caring much about others unless they were pure blooded creatures from outter space.

Shiro was a human being with a pure blood, one of the few ones still living on Earth in those late times. Since the day Earth had opened to the rest of the Universe, centuries earlier, the planet's population had slightly, if a lot, changed and mixed up with so many different races that most of the time they didn't really remember what a pure raced human looked like.

To Keith, they looked like Shiro.

"Avoid them if they come to you, ok?" Shiro said with a low voice. "Don't talk, this time."

"Yes sir," Keith groaned.

"Seriously, I don't wanna find you in a jail anymore, ok? Last time was enough."

"I only bite that je-"

"Don't bite people, that's all."

Keith mumbled something that Shiro didn't catch well and the man sighed a little. The night was going to be hella long and tiring. He knew for sure that Keith would disappear as soon as they would get out of the small ship, taking his place with the other guards and checking closely every move in the crowd.

And things did happen the way he knew. The castle in front of them when they landed on the light ground, Shiro sighed. "Do we really have to..."

"Get drunk, get laid by some aliens and let's go home, would you?" Keith cut casually and Shiro almost choked.

"KEITH!"

"What? I heard that Sendak and Lotor will be both here tonight, you're gonna have so much fun," and Keith snorted before a metalic hand slapped the backof his head, hard, Shiro's face redder than anything.

*

Altea's castle was always the biggest and most impressive place Keith had ever visited in his whole life. He didn't know what the inside looked like exception made of the hall and actual ballroom that Shiro hated that much. It was huge. Everything was huge. But he wasn't allowed to enter the castle since he wasn't invited, and being Shiro's bodyguard didn't change that. Actually, no bodyguards were allowed inside; Altea's castle had it's own security ongoing and personal bodyguards were seen as a lack of confidence on the hosting.

It wasn't the first time of course, but it was out of question for Keith to let Shiro travel so far in the galaxy alone for such an important meeting. If he wasn't allowed to enter the castle, the few times he'd come had made him know the outside pretty well -huge gardens, fountains, weird trees labyrinths, high facades.

And the windows. So high on the walls that no one except him was able to reach them, but Keith didn't mind the smooth white bricks. Only the thick glass of the windows could stop him from going inside -his time he wouldn't even try, as requested by Shiro.

It was still early when Keith joined a bunch of people near the first fountain in the garden. He'd left Shiro already and his frowning face made Kolivan laugh.

"If it isn't our baby!" the Galra grinned.

"Go fuck yourself," Keith mumbled.

"Calm down, the both of you," another one sighed.

This, too, was usual and somehow a way to greet each other. All of them were some halfbreed Galras, at the orders of a pure-raced person from somewhere in the galaxy -and Keith didn't mind that much who protected who in the first place. He only knew the bodyguards as they often met during the meetings, like this, wandering until it was finished.

Keith was the youngest, yet the smallest, and some of them had found it pretty amusing, if not...Cute. Kolivan was one to act like a father when something was happening or when they were all started a serious talking, but most of the time he was just having fun aroung Keith and his youth.

Thace, the second Galra who had talked, yawned so wildly that Kolivan rolled his eyes. "Damned, you're useless if your sleepy, do you even know it?"

But Thace only shrugged at it. "If only we were useful on this planet," he sighed. "I don't even know why I'm here, really. Still nice to see you guys once in a while, but home feels way more comfy than the edge of that foutain I swear."

Thace was sitting and kicking the air with his feet, visibly annoyed by the situation. "Do you think something's gonna happen tonight?" he asked.

"We'll never know," Kolivan mumbled. "I need action, man, I feel like I'm gonna turn into a hell of a statue one day if I come to one more meeting!"

Regris, the third one, laughed at that. "Eeeh, let's just bet?"

They suddenly stared at him, trying to look through ths thick mask he was always wearing under his dark hood. Most of them had been raised as members of a community of guards, and they usually kept their outfit from tht time to remember their origins, day after day.

"Bet on what?" Thace had sighed. Keith pouted. He knew Regris enough to imagine.

"if Keith's here, it means Shiro's in, right?"

They nodded. Keith winced, muttering a "Shut the fuck up."

"So, who bets on Lotor?"

Keith rolled his eyes. "Regris!"

"What? Sendak then for you?"

"I don't wanna know!"

"You're not funny," Regris pouted. "You're too young, you don't know what's a good fuck, that's why."

"Ulaz is a good fuck to get," Kolivan cut with a nodd and Thace frowned.

"Wait Ulaz is here too?"

"Of course? He's a pure raced Galra, I saw him upstairs when we've just arrived-"

"Holy shit. That bet is unfair."

"You mean, interesting for once?" Kolivan said, raising his brows. "Keith, opinion?"

"Fu--"

"Keith agrees," Regris said.

"Hey!"

"My take on Sendak."

"Sounds violent, I hope Sendak can't find Shiro's ass actually," Thace winced. "He might not walk for an entire week."

"Do you mean it's gonna be different with any of the others?"

"...Nah. But Ulaz doesn't bite at least."

They all turned their gazes to Keith at that and Kolivan had a smirk. "Unlike you."

The youngest Galra crossed his arms with a pout, giving them his darkest glare. "Did you all have sex with your master, or am I just having some weird ideas?" he hissed.

"Weird ideas," Kolivan waved off -he protected a strong woman named Zethrid and she probably was the only half-galra invited to the ball. And she was incredibly powerful, able to stop an elephant with one hand if she wanted to. "I'm not into that." But it did sound like he definitely would if it wasn't that woman.

"I did," Regris said -he was usually by Lotor's side with another Galra, a tall and slender half Galra woman named Acxa who was near them and rolling her eyes in silence.

"I admit too," Thace raised an hand and Keith frowned as he was Sendak's bodyguard.

"You guys are the worst," he sighed. "How comes you-"

Kolivan chuckled darkly. "What, don't tell us you never...With yours...?"

Keith frowned deeper, his nose pleating softly. "No. Fucking. Way."

"You're not his type?"

A silence. Keith blinked, taken off guard by the questions directly about his private life now. But he could feel how they were just being genuinely curious, and visibly open to any answer.

"I...Don't know...?" he mumbled. It wasn't that Shiro wasn't his type. Shiro was a human being, and no matter how close they were since childhood, Keith had never considered having any physical relationship with the man. Each one had his own place and Keith had never intended to change the things. Neve thought about it, by the way, and Shiro wasn't one to ask for something like that.

"What do you mean you don't know? You're all the time with him, being closer would mean being in his-"

"Can you shut up, Regris?" Keith rolled his eyes, annoyed. "That's not my thing."

"Sometimes I wonder if you have a thing, actually. Over than taking care of his security."

"Shiro's wellbeing is my priority," Keith sighed.

"Being raised by human beings really wasn't the best idea," Kolivan mumbled. "You're too blunt and close minded. It's gonna put you in trouble on day."

Keith pursed his lips and put his hood on. His bodyguard suit from today wasn't the most protective one. He knew one Altea’s guard was effective, how many soldiers they had, how well-trained they were and that there would be no security problem.

But...

It was his duty to guard Shiro and no one else. It was always putting him under stress not to be able to know what the man was doing, not to see who he was talking to, and basically spy on him and what was around him. He knew how creepy it could sound, but he’d never cared about others’ opinion. Keith knew why he was like this and it was enough.

After a few time with them, Keith left the small bunch of people in their annoyance and aimed for a spot he knew. On the other side of the castle, on the darkest side, there was that wall. Far above his head, there was that large window covered by heavy dark blue curtains. He smiled; last time he almost managed to reached the edge of that window. He'd been lucky not to hurt himself when he triped on a brick and fell on the ground, and he didn't know how long he'd thanks the Altean gardener for making thick and smooth grass growing everywhere on the outside.

He looked around. There was no one in sight. Smirking to himself, Keith started to unlock his very few pieces of armor. Chest, arms, thights and calves were soon in a dark corner, hidden behind some plants. Last time, he fell because of the weight his armor added to his body, and being muscular wasn't helping much about his own weight. He knew he was quite heavy despite his height, and it made things difficult enough when it came to climbing.

This time, he thought, he would succeed. The party had started for a few hours already. The only ting he could see was some light through other windows with their curtains wild opened. Just, this window often remained closed and hidden in the dark corner. It probably was because the view on the garden here wasn't the best? He didn't know and really, he didn't care that much.

There were holes in the wall, so small that they were almost indiscernible but Keith was far beyong it. It was enough. He was trained for that type of thing, and he started climbing again, testing every stone with his hands and feet before pulling himself up. Each step felt easier than the previous time he'd tried and he silently thanked himself for getting rid of his armor.

More, he thought as the window was closer and closer. There was just that balcony to catch -it wasn't the easiest part but not the most difficult.

But something suddenly caught his attention. A move on said balcony. There was someone hidding on it, and Keith could only catch a glimpse of their figure. Discreet moves, barely moving by the way. Silence. Someone alone and suspicious in such a dark place.

Keith didn't need more.

It was someone here to attack the party.

Someone probably armed, probably dangerous. Someone who could injure Shiro or anyone in the castle. He knew that many factions often tried to ruin those meetings but the Altean guards always managed to save the night.

Not this time. Someone had managed to reach that place right before him.

Holding his breath and trying not to make any sound, Keith changed a little his path to reach the side of the balcony. He was lucky by getting on the right side; the figure here was showing their back, slowly moving. In the darkness, from that distance, he could barely see more of the guy.

When an arm moved to catch the heavy curtain, Keith didn't hesitate: he caught the edge of the balcony, propped himself up on it with all his strength and jumped on the other man without a single warning. A loud OOMPH echoed, half muffled by the two bodies falling on the smooth stone of the balcony, and Keith almost wrapped his arms and legs aroung the other one.

"You're not going anywhere," he hissed in a pointed ear.

"Who the hell are you?" a voice answered, and Keith wasn't even surprised for it being so low. If it was one of the enemy factions, he could understand that the man didn't want anyone else to spot him.

"I'm the one asking!" Keith replied and he sat on the back of the other one, holding his hands with his own. "What are you here for? Who were you going to attack, you fucking piece of shit, mh? You're stupid enough to try when there are guards all overt the garden?"

Keith knew he was lying: Kolivan and the others weren't even giving a shit to the castle and were probably still discussing other Sendak and that rumor about his ability to break every bed he was having fun in.

"W-what?"

The voice was trembling, Keith noticed. Was he that much scared? Hadn't he even thought about the possibility to be arrested tat easily? The white hair at display was messy after Keith had jumped on the man.

"How dare you insult me? Who the hell are you?"

Uh.

There was something weird. The body trying to get free under him felt so light and weak that Keith had to blink twice to be sure of what he was seeing. He leaned a bit, earning a painful moan from the other man as he was being heavier like this, pushing on the man's back.

Wait.

Pointed ears?

White hair?

Holy shit, it was...

"An Altean?" Keith hissed. Taken off guard, he suddenly lost his balance, , the body under his movingso fast that he didn't have the time to proceed wht was happening. The lack of armor on his body was disturbing enough, and the feeling of hands and feet on his body through thin fabric was weird and painful despite the lack of strength in it.

No strength?

But with that knee pushing on his back to make him bow to the floor and hands pulling on his wrists, threatening to dislocate his shoulders, there was no need for strength.

Oh damn.

"I said who are you," the voice said.

Keith swallowed. He had no permission to be here, but he couldn't lie to an Altean. Shiro would be in if someone discovered anything.

"I--" He hesitated for a second but the other one pulled more on his arms "--URH! I'm Shirogane Takashi's guard!"

"Why the hell are you here?"

"I was worrying for -UH!" The man was pulling again. "For my master!"

"Climbing walls here isn't a sign that you're worrying, you know?"

Keith knew it but eh, he wasn't here to think twice before acting or Shiro would be a dead man already due to the numerous attempts at murdering him for being the representative of his planet.

"Don't tell Shirogane," Keith said. Actually, he was pretty sure that Shiro's deception would be worse than an Altean punishment. Like...Eeekkk. Never underestimate a human being.

"You don't even know who I am and you're asking me to remained silent?" The man chuckled. "You're even the first one who attacked me. I should report you to the castle guards..."

"D-don't! I thought you were from an ennemy faction so...So I..."

Another chuckle. "Still, you disobeyed your master."

But the next second, Keith fell face to the floor. His hands were free, and thee wasn't the feeling of the knee against his back anymore. Coughing in the dirt, he was mostly thankful for his shoulder joints -it hurt like hell.

When he turned back, he fell into big blue eyes. How did he know their colours despite the darkness? Because they were too close. A nose was brushing against his. And Keith could almost feel a tedious breath on his lower face.

Too close!

"So...I really should report you..." the Altean murmured. "But, mmh?"

Ok. here were a few situations Keith didn't like, for whatever reason it was, and this one was definitely on of these. The Altean stepped back a little, fists on his waist. He was literally judging him. His blue marks under his eyes were glowing softly in the darkness.

"B-but?" Keith mumbled, more than happy to have regained some personal space.

"You seem to be loyal."

"Loyal?" Keith huffed. What the man was saying was a bit conflicting. "I've just attacked you when I'm not even allowed to be here."

"Yeah. That's exactly what I mean. You did your job to protect your master despite the law and the risks. That's being loyal."

Keith frowned. He didn't get the meaning of the man's words. He just knew that if anything, one word from the Altean and he was dead. So he crossed his arms on his chest, waiting for what had to come.

"So?"

"So, I won't say anything. Do me a favor instead."

Here we are, finally! Keith rolled his eyes. "And what is it..."

Some robbing, probably? The man was certainly a burglar, taking profit in those high class parties to rob whatever he could find with discretion. He was slender, light, fast, knew how to use his body. It was a possibility and-

"Keep me company."

Keith froze.

"Compa- Wait, what?"

There was that soft chuckle and Keith grimaced. "Company. Actually I'm hidding here cause I don't really like all those parties, but damn if I'm bored!"

From close, getting used to the dark light in that dark balcony, Keith could have a better view of the man. Like his voice tended to show it, it was a young Altean, probably Keith's age or so. He couldn't really get the colour of his clothes with the lack of light. Around his forehead, hald hidden under his short white hair, a golden tiara was softly sparkling when it caught a glimpse of the moon.

It was an Altean, for sure.

But not any Altean.

It was one of those fucking Alteans from the aristocracy having fun inside the castle.

"Do you agree? Takashi Shirogane is the only human being and won't be long to find, if you want my opinion. Every one here knows who he is. And we all know about his half Galra bodyguard."

"You're--"

"Do you agree, Keith?" The Altean repeated. Keith shivered at his own name.

Fuck.

"I...I agree..."

A line of white teeth shined in the night as the Altean was smiling huge.

"Perfect! Take me down to the garden before Uncle finds me, would you?"

The beginning of problems. Keith knew it, but the Altean didn't let him have any choice in all this. Shiro first, he sighed to himself then he frowned.

"What do you mean "the garden"?" he asked.

"I mean the garden?" And with his hand, he indicated the garden spreading under the balcony and all around the castle.

"But the garden door is--"

"Who needs a door when they have a strong bodyguard climbing walls?"

Keith already hated the Altean. Mumbling about everything that was happening in this evening, he let the man wrap his arms around his shoulders.

"Damn, what a thick man!"

"Shut up."

"You shouldn't say things like this, mister Keith I-climb-the-walls-of-a-forbidden-castle," and Keith sucked in a breath, trying to give his darkest gaze.

"You--"

But before he could even manage a word, the man leaned a little more on him, lips almost on his ear.

He smelt like the castle. He smelt like like a precious creature. Something fragile and strong at the same time. Something that could break you in an instant.

"I'm Lance, by the way. Nice to meet you, Keith."

Keith hated Alteans for many reasons.

All of this were many reasons.