Shiro knew something was wrong when Kosmo disappeared. The wolf liked to sleep on Keith's side of the bed when Keith was away, no matter how much Shiro tried to discourage it, and the sudden absence of the wolf's bulk was alarming. Shiro threw himself out of bed and was fully dressed when Kosmo returned, bringing Keith with him. Keith was battered, filthy, and had a sling across his chest.
"Where's Black?" Shiro asked.
"Black's in her hangar. I guess the wolf wanted to save me the walk home," Keith said. He swayed a little and braced himself against Kosmo to stay upright.
"What happened?" Shiro asked. "I thought this was supposed to be a milk run."
"It was," Keith said bitterly. "Someone tipped off the Galra troops and they ambushed us."
"How bad?" Shiro asked.
"Brutal," Keith said. "They're losing, but they'll never back down. They're going to take down as many of the Blades as they can." He touched the bundle against his chest and Shiro realized suddenly that it was a baby. "We lost Susan and Jarak."
"Oh, no," Shiro said, sick at the loss, and at the fresh grief etched across Keith's face.
"I never would have sent them in if I'd known," Keith said, looking away from Shiro. "They weren't supposed to be on the front lines."
"We don't always get to decide that," Shiro pointed out.
Keith lowered his head to look at the child he was carrying. "There wasn't anyone to take Yorak, so I brought him home. I figured you wouldn't mind."
"Of course not," Shiro said. "Do you want me to hold him while you get cleaned up?"
Keith looked down at himself. He was coated in blood and soot and reeked of smoke. "Oh. Yeah." He lifted Yorak out of the sling and carefully handed him to Shiro. While the child was - thankfully - not covered in blood, some of the soot from Keith's suit had rubbed off on him.
"Do you have any extra clothes? Supplies?" Shiro asked.
"Just what the babysitter had," Keith said. He unslung his pack and gave it to Shiro. "That should enough to get us through until the stores open."
"What then?" Shiro asked. "Does he have any family?"
Keith shook his head. "Susan lost all her family in the first Galra attack on Earth and Jarak was disowned by his for marrying someone who wasn't Galra."
"Maybe they'll reconsider, now that they've lost their son," Shiro said.
Keith shook his head. "Jarak told me some stories about his childhood. If they try to take Yorak, I'll fight them." Keith touched the fine black hair on the boy's head. "They won't try. He looks human."
"Go clean up," Shiro said. He gave Keith a light kiss. Keith nodded and went into the bathroom. Shiro sat down on the couch and tucked the baby into the crock of his left arm. The wolf laid down by Shiro's feet and watched the child. "You're really tiny," Shiro said to the baby. "I suppose you know that." He hesitantly touched the baby's cheek. Yorak grabbed one of his fingers and held on. Shiro smiled. "Strong, though."
"Shiro, I could use a hand," Keith called. Shiro sent his right arm into the bathroom.
"Still funny," Keith said dryly. "I need help changing a bandage, so I think it's better if you can see what you're doing."
"All right," Shiro said. He cradled the baby against his left shoulder and went into the bathroom. He took one look at Keith and said, "Doctor tomorrow."
"Yes, sir," Keith said. He held up the medical tape. "I did the one on my leg, but I can't reach the one on my back."
"I got it," Shiro said. He took the tape and reached for a bandage, then remembered he was holding Yorak.
"I'll take him," Keith said. He took the baby and Shiro gently bandaged Keith's wound. Keith passed the baby back so he could pull on a black t-shirt. "We're going to need a bed for him," he realized.
"Maybe we can just keep holding him until tomorrow," Shiro said. "You should sleep, though."
Keith shook his head. "I can't sleep yet." He wrinkled his nose. "What's that smell?" And then he realized. "Oh."
So did Shiro. "Oh." He looked down at the bundle in his arms. The baby sucked on his fist and managed to look smug.
"You're holding him," Keith said.
"This isn't Hot Potato," Shiro said. "I don't know how to change a diaper."
"It can't be that tough," Keith said. He tossed out the used bandages and got his data pad for instructions. They decided to change the baby in the office, using Shiro's desk, as it was more sanitary than using the kitchen table and involved moving fewer stacks of books, papers, and interesting rocks than using Keith's desk.
"If you'd clean your desk, you wouldn't have to use mine all the time," Shiro said. He put a stack of folders in a drawer and laid a towel out on the desk.
"Then I'd have to change my entire organizational system," Keith said. He placed Yorak on his back in the center of the towel. Yorak kicked his feet and cried.
Shiro put his hands on the side of the diapers, took a deep breath, and immediately regretted it.
"Hold on!" Keith said. He grabbed their flight helmets off a shelf.
"Good idea," Shiro said. Both men put on their helmets and activated their breathing systems. Shiro peeled away the diaper and set it to the side, still on the towel.
"Wipes," Keith said, looking at the instructions on the datapad. He handed Shiro a box of wet wipes. Shiro used half the box, but Yorak's bottom was throughly cleaned.
"This isn't so bad," Shiro said. Yorak gurgled happily and a stream of urine shot up. Keith leapt forward and threw a diaper over the lower half of the baby, but not before Shiro's faceplate had been spattered with baby pee.
"Sorry," Keith said. "I wasn't expecting a frontal attack."
"It's okay. I've had worse things on this helmet," Shiro said. He used a wipe to clean the faceplate. Keith handed him a fresh diaper and Shiro quickly wrapped the baby in it and taped it up. Keith dressed Yorak in a fresh jumper while Shiro cleaned up. "Next one's yours," he said to Keith. "How many do we have left?"
Keith checked the bag. "None," he said. "How long do they last?"
"Not long?" Shiro guessed.
"Lance!" Keith said suddenly.
"He and Allura got diapers at their baby shower. They won't need them for a couple of months, so we'd have plenty of time to replace them."
"Can't hurt to ask," Shiro said. They sat down on the couch and put in a call to Lance.
"If we're defending the universe, can it wait until after breakfast?" Lance asked sleepily. He had video on, but a sleeping mask over his eyes.
"It's not Voltron. I just need a favor," Keith said. "Can we borrow some diapers?"
There was a long pause, then, "Keith, if you woke me up at three am to indulge in some weird fetish thing-" He pushed up his sleeping mask and squinted at the screen. "Whoa. You look like you went three rounds solo with a snick."
"I had a rough day," Keith said wearily.
Allura stirred beside Lance and rolled over. "What's going on? Do we need to get the lions?"
"We just need diapers for the baby and the store's closed," Shiro said. "Keith thought you might have gotten some at the shower."
"Baby?" Lance asked. "Keith, is there something about Galran biology that you're not telling us?"
"He's an orphan," Keith snapped. He hated that word. It dripped with pity and condescension, of being given used clothing two sizes too big and being expected to be grateful for it.
"Where did you-" Lance began, then looked at Keith again, battered and exhausted and straight from the battlefield, and said, "Never mind; you can tell us later. Do you just need diapers? What do you have?"
Shiro picked up the bag. "There's a can of formula, a change of clothes, a stuffed yupper, one of those things you put in their mouths-"
Lance laughed. "Hey, remember when Bob stuck one of those in Keith's mouth?"
Allura laughed, too. "Oh, yes!" She caught Keith's glare and sobered. "What else do you have? What about furniture? A crib?"
"That's all," Shiro said.
"We'll be over soon," Allura said. "I'm afraid we don't have any formula, but we do have a few other supplies."
"Thank you," Shiro said.
Shiro opened the door at the first knock. "Shh!" he said. "They're sleeping." Lance and Allura crept into the room and saw Keith lying on the couch asleep with Yorak on his chest. The wolf guarded them from the floor.
"That is the cutest thing ever," Lance whispered. "Did you take a picture?"
"At least twenty," Shiro whispered back. "I already sent one to Krolia."
"What's happened?" Allura whispered. "Where did you get a child?" She wore long blue robes tied just over her rounded belly.
"Two friends of Keith's died today," Shiro said soberly. "There was no one to take the baby, so Keith brought him home."
"Are you keeping him?" Allura asked.
Shiro watched Yorak rise and fall on Keith's chest. "I don't know," he said. "We've talked about adopting, but that was something for the future. I don't know if we're ready."
"At least you don't have to be pregnant. It's quite annoying," Allura said. "People treat me like I'm fragile and try to carry things for me." She shot a glare at Lance.
"What? When human women are pregnant, there's stuff they aren't supposed to do for their own safety. I was trying to help!"
"I'm not human and you dropped it on my foot!"
"Shh!" Shiro reminded them. "Where's the diapers?"
"In the hallway," Lance said. He stepped outside and came back pushing an old-fashioned crib with wooden slats, filled with bags.
"What's all this?" Shiro asked.
"Supplies," Allura said. "We've got plenty of time to replace them."
Shiro looked through them. Diapers, as promised, plus creams for diaper rash, a stack of cloths and towels, another stack of baby clothes... Shiro picked up a onesie. "There's too much stuff here. We won't need it all."
"Oh, yes, you will," Lance said, with the weary voice of experience. "Trust Uncle Lance."
"Are you sure you want to let us use the crib? We can probably come up with something else," Shiro said.
"Please take the crib," Lance said. "Coran's making us an Altean crib, but this came from my Aunt Neoma and if I chose someone else's gift over hers, I will never hear the end of it. If I give it to you, I'm off the hook."
"It's beautiful," Shiro said, running his hand over the wood. "I don't know if we'll be needing it for long, though."
"Consider it a gift to the child, then," Allura said. "He can take it to his next home, if there is one."
The child made a fussing noise at that moment and Keith snapped awake. He wrapped his arms around the baby and sat upright, then winced as the movement pulled his injuries. "What's wrong?" he asked Yorak. The baby began to cry softly. "Hungry?" he guessed, and looked at Shiro.
"Could be," Shiro said. He got the can of formula from the bag, looked at it, dug through the bag again, and said, "I think we have a problem."
"Nah, I got you," Lance said. He took an empty bottle and rubber nipple from one of the bags and waved it. "Let me show you how it's done." He put his arm around Shiro's shoulders and let him to the kitchen.
"Mind if I sit down?" Allura asked Keith.
"Go ahead," Keith said. He bounced Yorak lightly. "Shh. Shh. Shiro's getting your food ready," he said softly.
"What's his name?" Allura asked.
"Yorak," Keith said.
Allura's eyebrows went up. "That's Galran!"
"So was his father," Keith said.
"Oh." Allura was silent for a moment. "He's like you, then,"
"I guess," Keith said. He stood up, cradled Yorak his arms and swayed gently as the boy sobbed. "My mom almost named me Yorak."
"It's a lovely name," Allura said. "Does it have a special meaning?"
"'Tramples on his enemies'." Keith shrugged. "Most Galran names are like that."
"Perhaps he'll grow to be a great warrior," Allura said.
"Maybe he'll make peace," Keith said. The baby's cries grew louder. "And quiet. What do you say, Yorak? Peace and quiet?"
Shiro hurried into the living room with Lance right behind. "Okay, I've got a bottle ready."
"Sit down," Lance said, pointing at the recliner. Shiro sat. Keith placed Yorak gently in his arms. Lance adjusted the baby and Shiro into a comfortable position and Shiro held the bottle to the baby's lips. "Tilt the bottle, like this. There!" The baby stopped crying and started sucking on the bottle. "Keep the bottle up. You don't want him to be swallowing air."
Shiro looked up with alarm. "It'll hurt him?"
"It'll give him gas," Lance said. He sat down in the other recliner.
Shiro watched the baby drink as his right arm hovered over Yorak with the bottle. "You know a lot about babies, huh?" Shiro asked. Keith watched the baby anxiously.
"I come from a big family," Lance said. "Everyone helps out."
The baby spat out the rubber nipple after a few minutes. "I think he's finished." Shiro held up the bottle to see what was left. "Did he eat enough?"
"Yeah, that's fine," Lance said. "He'll let you know when he's hungry again. You should burp him."
"Um. How?" Shiro asked.
"Hold him against your shoulder and rub his back," Lance said. "Do you want me to do it?"
"I will," Keith said. Lance draped a cloth over Keith's shoulder. "That's for burping?"
"Yeah, sometimes something comes up. Little messy, but no big," Lance said.
"Okay," Keith said. He took the baby in his arms and positioned him in place with help from Lance's instructions.
"I can loan you some books," Allura said. "I've been reading whatever I can about human babies. They're very similar to Altean babies. I expect Galran ones are similar as well."
Everyone looked at Keith. "I guess I could ask my mom," he said.
"Wow," Lance said. "I can't believe you guys have a baby."
Shiro shook his head. "We can't make a decision like this without considering all the factors. Keith travels a lot. I'm busy with the Garrison and we both need to be able to drop everything if we're needed for Voltron and the Atlas. We've got to look at our finances and we're going to have to think about education options. What if he's not interested in the Garrison?" He looked at his husband, who was watching the baby with a furrowed brow. "Keith?"
"He's like me," Keith said softly, not looking up. "He doesn't have anyone else."
Shiro crossed over to the couch and Allura slid to the side so he'd have room to sit next to Keith. He put his arm around Keith and touched their heads together. "Do you want to keep him?"
Shiro let out a long breath. "Then we'll make it work."
Keith looked up in surprise. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," Shiro said, and kissed him. He looked down at Yorak. "What do you think, buddy? Wanna stick around?" Yorak gave Shiro a puzzled look and puked up warm formula.
"That's a yes in baby language," Lance told them, as Shiro dabbed at the vomit with the burping cloth.
"This is so exciting!" Allura clasped her hands "Just think, our children will grow up together!"
"Yeah!" Lance said, then frowned. "Wait, no, our kid was supposed to be the oldest. This is cheating!"
Keith looked up from the baby long enough to smirk at Lance. "Guess you should have gotten Allura pregnant faster."
Lance put his hands on his hips. "Ours will be the prettiest. Obviously." He nodded at Allura, who rolled her eyes.
"Yorak will be the better pilot. Obviously," Keith said.
"Ours will be able to do magic!" Lance said.
"We don't know that for certain," Allura interjected.
"Yeah? Yorak will kick your kid's butt in hand-to-hand," Keith said.
"Our kid will kick your kid's butt in target shooting!"
"Hey, hey!" Shiro lifted his hands. "Don't forget academics."
Lance and Keith looked at each other, and both said, "My kid's going to be smarter than yours!" at the same time.
"All right, I think it's time we went back to our apartment," Allura said. She put a hand on the arm of the couch and awkwardly pulled herself to her feet.
"Thank you so much," Shiro said.
"Yes, thanks," Keith said.
"It isn't a problem at all," Allura said.
"Call if you need anything," Lance said. He held out his fist to Keith. "Dad bump," he said. Keith smiled and bumped fists with him.
After Allura and Lance left, Shiro unloaded the crib, then came back to the couch. Yorak was dozing against Keith's shoulder. "Come on," Shiro said. "Let's try out that crib so you can get some sleep."
"'M fine," Keith mumbled.
Shiro looked Keith over. His husband sat propped against the arm of the couch with a little twist, so he wouldn't be leaning on the worst of his wounds. His skin was pale under the bruises and his eyes were rimmed with red. "Come to bed and I'll do the next diaper change," Shiro said.
"Yeah, okay," Keith said, and gingerly got to his feet. Kosmo stood up as well and walked by Keith's side. Keith kept Yorak cradled in his arms until he got to the bedroom. Shiro rolled the crib next to the bed and Kosmo settled himself on guard between the crib and the door. Keith frowned. "Does he need pajamas?"
"Let me see what we have," Shiro said. He went into the other room and returned with a garment that looked like a tiny sleeping bag with arms. He handed it to Keith, who frowned. It was covered in blue Voltron lions.
"Do they make these with black lions?" Keith asked. He laid Yorak down and wrapped him up in the garment.
"Probably," Shiro said. "We can look tomorrow."
"No rush," Keith said. "I think we should get them for Lance and Allura. As thanks." He set Yorak down gently in the center of the crib and hovered over him. The baby made light fussing noises, but settled down quickly.
Shiro put his arm around Keith's waist. "I bet we could find ones with Red."
"I really think Lance would appreciate Black," Keith said. He leaned against Shiro.
"Let's get into bed," Shiro said. "We'll be right here if he needs anything."
Keith didn't move. He just watched as Yorak blinked his eyes slower and slower, until they finally stayed closed. "If we keep him-"
"'If'?" Shiro asked. "I thought we'd decided."
"Shiro, one day I'm going to have to tell him that I'm the one that got his parents killed," Keith said miserably.
"It wasn't your fault," Shiro said.
"It was my plan. I recommended them for the infiltration team," Keith said.
"You had no way of knowing what would happen," Shiro said.
"Will he understand that?" Keith asked. "I used to hate the other firefighters that let my father go back into the house. I thought they should have stopped him."
"He saved three people that day," Shiro said softly.
"I know," Keith said. "I hated myself for being selfish, too. I just wanted him back." He rubbed his arm across his eyes. "Sorry. I guess I'm just really tired."
"Keith, he's going to love you and he will forgive you," Shiro said. "Do you think it's better to put him with strangers who never knew his parents? Who wouldn't know what it's like to be both human and Galra?"
Keith shook his head. As leader of Voltron, he was rarely challenged outright, but he didn't miss the looks people exchanged when they found out about his heritage. It would be tougher for a child. "What about you? You keep asking how I feel, but he'd be yours, too."
"I want a family with you," Shiro said. "I've wanted that for a long time. I didn't expect it to happen like this, but it feels right."
Keith nodded. "I'll start the paperwork tomorrow." They climbed into bed. Keith rolled onto his good side and draped his arm around Shiro. He sat bolt upright about half an hour later, when Yorak started wailing. Keith lunged toward the crib, sniffed, and fell back. "This one's yours," he said to Shiro.
Shiro groaned and climbed out of bed. "I did say that, didn't I? You're up next time."
Keith lay back on his pillow. "Course." He didn't close his eyes until Yorak's crying stopped and the baby was safely back in his crib.