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I Didn't Want to Know

Chapter Text

"I'm fine," Keith said as he shoved Lance out of the way, exiting the training room. 

"Like hell you are, you know you can go around and yell at Shiro because he adores you, but I'm done with your fucking temper," Lance said as he pulled Keith back into the room by his elbow. Keith didn't have his jacket on, and his arms were bare without it. Lance almost flinched back at how hot Keith's skin was.

"Don't touch me," Keith hissed as he slapped Lance's hand off. Lance's eyebrows only furrowed further above his eyes as he stood in place.

If Keith wanted to be a stubborn jackass, who was he to stop him?

Asshole, Lance thought as he rolled his eyes. He doubted Keith noticed from how out of it he seemed.

"You know what, leave, go to your room and sulk and be a lonely emo or whatever," Lance responded as he threw his arms up. Keith didn't even bother glaring back at Lance. He just sighed a raspy breath and went about his merry way. It had been like that for almost a month now. Keith had been released from the Blades after a mission for some unknown reason and he was obviously not fine but refused to let anyone tell him otherwise. 

Lance especially, who didn't know why he cared so goddamn much. Actually, he did, but it was a stupid, probably faulty conclusion. Because it made no sense. It made no sense how when Keith sniffled or sneezed it caused a panic in Lance’s chest. It made no sense that everytime Keith didn’t eat Lance felt concerned in a way he never felt concerned before Keith went with the Blades for months.

It made no fucking sense to Lance as to why when Keith came back, he felt such a huge sense of relief and happiness. Keith was his rival. He was temperamental and annoying.

He crossed his arms and let himself drown in all the ways Keith was a terrible, awful, annoying person to try to justify not chasing after him and forcing him into a cold bath, feeding him some soup that Hunk made, or- Lance groaned again as he kept on thinking about Keith. 

He only got interrupted by Shiro's voice.

"Hey, have you seen Keith? He didn't eat breakfast or dinner and-," Shiro rushed into the room, running through the same panicked dad speech he had given everyone for the past few days that Keith had been back. 

Has Keith eaten? Have you seen Keith? Isn't he paler than usual? I think something's wrong with him, but he needs space, so we shouldn't bother him, but he was paler, right? 

Lance was over it. This emo, temper tantrum act might work on Shiro and the rest of the team who is too scared to tell Keith otherwise, but it wasn't working on Lance. There was something wrong and he was going to get to the bottom of it. 

"He just ran off, I'll go find him," Lance cut Shiro off, who took another five minutes to convince that he could handle Keith. 

"Okay, but just call me over if he needs anything, I'll have Hunk make him some-," Shiro started. 

"Shiro, I know he's your brother and you have weird paternal instincts, but I can handle Keith," Lance said as he walked out before Shiro could protest.


 

He slowly made his way to the sleeping quarters to where he suspected Keith to be. 

"Hey, Mullet, I'm coming in," Lance said as he knocked on the door, not getting any response. "Don't say I didn't warn you." Lance walked in only to find an empty room with only Keith's jacket hanging on one of the hooks by the entrance. He had never been in Keith's room before, but it sent cold, unsettling shivers down his spine. 

It's so...empty, he thought as he looked around. 

It reminded him of homes before putting furniture in. It just didn't feel lived in, it didn't feel like Keith had made an impression on this room, on the castle. And it felt so wrong because Keith had made a huge impact. He had lead Voltron at one point, he had been there for Lance, he had defended the universe just as much as the rest of them, and there Lance was in a room that mirrored that of a barren, abandoned space.

He walked out before his thoughts got any more depressing. He swore it was colder in the room than out in the hallway. 

He made his way to the next place he could think of, the shower room. Surprisingly, but not so much, Keith spent at least fifteen minutes in the showers after a training, not like Lance payed attention though, because that would be weird. 

Lance walked into the shower room and could already hear one of the stalls pouring water on full blast. The room looked like a normal Earth shower room, with each shower having its own holographic curtain. One could even set it to different opaque colors. Pidge had programmed them to turn whatever color matched their lions per Lance's request. Everyone just went along with it, but now that he was looking for Keith it proved quite useful because a bright red, opaque shower curtain caught his line of sight.

"Hey, Mullet?" Lance hollered out, but no response, only the faint echo of his own voice and the pitter-patter of the water dousing Keith. He slowly got closer to the shower and made one last attempt to get Keith to pay attention to him, "Hey, I'm going to turn the water all the way to freezing if you don't tell me what the hell is up with you."

"Okay fine-," Lance said as he moved to the screen beside the shower which allowed him to change the settings of the shower from the outside. He was going to make the water cold, but then he quickly saw a red screen pop up as he tapped the screen. He immediately opened the curtain, causing the holographic panels to go away and reveal a shivering, fully clothed Keith who was sat on his knees.

His forehead was pressed against the shower wall he was facing. His eyes were closed, and Lance didn't know how he was holding himself up.

Lance took two ticks to process the horrid scene before jumping to action.

"The hell," Lance cursed as he tapped the screen, turning off the water and grabbing a towel, pulling Keith out. 

He quickly wrapped the towel around Keith. He expected him to yell at him, but as soon as Lance pulled him in the towel, he started sobbing. Lance didn't know how to respond. He had always made fun of Keith for being shorter than he was, being the smallest blade, being small in general, but seeing him now crying, small, vulnerable broke Lance's heart. 

"Hey, buddy, it's aright," Lance tried to console as he grabbed another towel and tried to dry Keith's hair. Lance was going to take Keith to the healing pods as soon as he calmed down, but then Lance started seeing blood stain the towel underneath Keith's shoulder, a stream of blood dripping from Keith's nose. 

"Keith, what the hell," Lance panicked as he immediately grabbed Keith’s jaw to get him to look at him, but all he got was an unresponsive Keith.

“Hey, buddy,” Lance said with more panic rising in his voice, “Keith!” He found himself yelling as he gently shook him. It took Lance no more time to stand up and carry Keith bridal style and run for the med bay, sending an urgent message to Coran through the comms. 


 

"It shows he has a deficit of something in his blood. His immune system is down, and it appears he caught more than one space virus that is foreign to his biology. Because of the disease that is attacking his immune system, his body is unable to fight off whatever else he had caught," Coran stated as everyone gathered around Keith's pod. Shiro was pale and everyone else didn't fully understand what any of that meant. 

"It can't be back," Shiro said, shocked as he looked up at Keith. "Run the scan again," Shiro demanded. 

"Shiro we have already run it five times. The result is unfortunately not going to change if I-," Coran tried to reason. 

"I said run another scan," Shiro yelled as he smashed his Galra hand on one of the other pods in the room. If they weren't made of the finest Altean material, they probably would have shattered to billions of pieces. 

Shiro was not having it.

Coran sadly ran another scan that showed the same results. 

Keith was sick, very sick, and he only had a few weeks left. 

Coran said there was nothing that would prevent Keith's outcome. There was nothing they could do.

Instead of yelling, Shiro became blank as he stared at Keith in the pod. Everyone else had caught on to what was going on, but Allura decided it would be best to gather everyone before Keith woke up. 


 

"As you all have gathered," Allura said sadly looking down at the floor. "Keith is very sick. Kolivan and all of Keith's team are coming to see him. They have been occupied with a mission and they were unable to come."

"The scans show that Keith has a type of terminal illness that has been metastasizing for quite some time. Kolivan's messages said that he was unstable and not allowed to go on missions, but Keith found a way to deter the messages from getting to us, his tech ID showed up when Pidge did a deep search. Either way, Kolivan's messages say his state was not as bad as it is now," Coran reported in a solemn voice. 

"The blades were able to detect the space virus, but it seems the illness that is causing his immune system to fail wasn't. It isn't something we would have detected either if it wasn't for the human setting already on the pods. The blades only released him with saying he was suffering from a 'common; cold', but Keith said he wanted to be released. He wanted to come to see us," Allura added. 

"So, he came to say goodbye, to tell us 'hey guys I'm dying, and I thought you should know,'" Lance suddenly spat out, standing up, his fists clenched. 

"Lance," Coran said. 

"No, he came to die here, and when did he plan on telling us?" Lance burst out, his eyes filling up with tears. "I thought it was just him being moody-I-I I didn't- god, I didn't think he had freaking cancer; that he was dying," Lance said as he buried his face into Hunk's chest, sobbing. 

I made fun of him all those times. I didn't check on him sooner because I was being stubborn, petty over a stupid rivalry when I should have just checked on him. I haven't seen him in months, and I don't even check-in, Lance pathetically curled deeper into Hunk.

"The best we can do is offer him some peace. He came to be with us-," Coran started saying. 

"He came to die with us," Pidge said as her voice broke, crying into Shiro's arm, who still hadn't spoken, his head was hung, and the backside of his hands were on his forehead as his elbows laid on his knees. He looked pale, desperate for some other type of answer, anything else, anything but this.

Before anyone spoke there was a sound of the pod opening and Coran dashed over, catching Keith and placing him in a bed they had pulled into the med bay just for him. Allura went over and got an IV line and rolled it close to the side of Keith's bed. 

As Keith woke up, Coran set up the IV line, making Keith's brow furrow as he was poked while still waking up. 

"Sorry lad had to do it quick, you need the nutrients. You overworked your body at this stage and did some real damage," Coran apologized. 

"What's-where am I?" Keith groaned as he sat up, wincing as he got up and seemed to take note of how weak he felt. Allura immediately grabbed his elbows and helped him settle back down onto the bed, helping him prop himself up with pillows, tucking him in instinctively. Keith just scowled. 

"Stop touching me," Keith said as he slapped Allura's hand away. "Why is no one talking? What the hell is going on?" Keith asked finally noticing how half the team's faces were covered in tears, their cheeks damp, and their eyes puffy and red. 

"Keith, please calm down," Allura said as she placed a hand on Keith's head, feeling for a temperature, retracting her hand as she felt how hot he was. "Keith, you are burning up," she said, immediately going to the cart that Coran had wheeled in and getting a cold compress. 

"I'm fine, it's just a cold," Keith said, pushing the compress away from his face. 

"Keith, please," Shiro finally spoke. "Just take it."

Keith's eyes widened as he heard how broken Shiro's voice sounded. 

"Shiro, I'm fine, really," Keith stated, taking the compress and putting it on his lap gently. "It's nothing for all you to worry about. I just need rest. Sorry for worrying you."

"Keith, stop it," Lance yelled suddenly, walking to the foot of his bed and placing his hands on the bottom edge of the hospital-like bed's frame. "We know what's going on. We know why you suddenly decided to come here. We know, so you can stop acting like you are fine," Lance said, starting to cry again. 

"Nothing is going on. What the hell are you talking about? It's just a cold, the flu, or whatever the hell you want to call it. It probably is just amplified because it's a space virus, but I'm fine," Keith responded as he looked around at everyone before turning back to Lance.

"Sure, I'm not feeling great, but why do you make it seem like I am about to die. I came here because my mom is missing, and I just wanted a break. I wanted to see you guys, so I'm sorry if you think I need to be dying to do that," Keith responded as he bit his lip, it started bleeding almost immediately and he just kept rubbing off the blood with the back of his hand, but it wouldn't stop. 

It wouldn't clot

"What do you mean-okay you know what stop it, look at you. How could you not know you are dying; your lip literally won't stop bleeding and you have the nerve to tell us that you don't know you have weeks to live. What the fuck, Keith?" Lance yelled and Keith's eyes widened as he listened to Lance's words, then looked down at his hand, looking at his own blood on the back of his palm. 

"No, I'm fine," he whispered, the gears in his head seemed to be turning and Lance couldn't help but scoff, couldn't help but feel the tiniest bit of anger at how Keith acted like he didn’t know what the hell was going on.

How long are you going to act innocent? How long are you going to try to protect us in your stupid, dumb ways?  Lance thought, pulling his body back a bit as he kept observing Keith. 

Suddenly, his eyes started to water, and Lance pulled farther back from his bed. Everyone eyed each other as Keith 's nose got red. "No, I-but I can't-but the transplant-no. It's been-f-forever. It's just a cold-I r-ran the test. No-, Shiro it's not-you're lying-run it again," Keith said as he suddenly turned even paler than he was.

He looked at Shiro who didn't say anything, and the rest of them could see the life just drain out of Keith as he absorbed all the information. It was almost telepathic how Shiro walked over and Keith collapsed into his chest, his expression blank and his eyes still wide, tears building up as the ticks passed them by.

"Shiro, no what the fuck? What the hell? Why?" Keith's voice broke as he dug his face fully into Shiro's body, muffled crying started to fill the dead silent room. Everyone stared at the emotional breakdown that was happening in front of them. The fact that Keith was breaking down so hard in front of them in such a way that seemed foreign to them. 

Keith, uncontrollably crying and muffling his cries into Shiro's side. Keith, who was the emo, the wall that would never open up. Keith, their Keith, was shattering.

Everyone looked at each other, processing what was happening, but also clarifying and confirming the situation. 

Keith didn't know. He hadn't known he was dying. 

"The bleeding, the-the-bruises-I just thought-I just-I wanted to think-god what the fuck? But-and the test, at-Marmora said-," Keith continued as his words started becoming incoherent, he went on to ramble on more, but no one could understand what he was saying, it's not like their state of minds would have been able to process what he was saying anyway.

"Paladins, I think it's best if we let Keith and Shiro on their own for the time being," Allura said, breaking the painful silence, letting her voice join the only sound in the med bay, Keith's sobbing, his rambling, his pain. 

They all hesitantly looked at each other and then at Shiro, who just sadly nodded as he rubbed Keith's back, subtle tears streaming down his face as if he was trying to stay strong for Keith

Chapter Text

It had been a week since everything had been discovered. Apparently, Keith had caught a space disease that had attacked his immune system and started causing irregularities in his cell production. Since Keith had left the Blades, he had caught another disease, probably from one of the missions they had gone on.

Lance had snooped around Coran, Allura, and Shiro talking to try to figure out more information. Coran had mentioned that he didn’t know how Keith was standing and acting like he was fine. His vitals showed he had been living on adrenaline, mixed with something similar on his Galra side since he had gotten to the Castle. Bottom line, he shouldn’t have been able to do all the things he had been doing, like train for hours on end and join them on missions.

Coran had explained that coupled with his history and the fact that it hadn’t been that long since his remission supposedly happened, whatever illness Keith had had in his childhood had relapsed quickly and caused the outbreak that had happened a week ago.

Lance thought it all sounded insane. Keith, the first-placing, best in his class, amazing pilot, Keith, had been fighting off cancer. He didn’t know the details, the when or the how’s, but from the minimum information that Shiro had shared before practically locking himself with Keith in one of the extra rooms for a week, he knew that much.

Coran had set up all the equipment and necessary things for Keith in a room closer to the med bay, easier if anything were to go downhill suddenly. Nobody liked to think about that though, it didn’t feel like it could get any worse.

Lance had only managed to peer in once during the week where only Shiro, Coran, and Allura were allowed to see him. Pidge had gathered that Keith had gotten what on Earth was known as seizures and he had been hooked up to machines, along with undergoing whatever treatment the three that were allowed to see him deemed appropriate.

Pidge had even managed to conclude that it got to the point where Allura’s magic seemed to be the only thing that remedied his current state. But even then, he wasn’t fine.

It was painful. It was absolutely painful to know what Keith was undergoing from Pidge digging around in the comms and security feeds, and not because Keith was willingly letting them know what was going on. God, Lance didn’t even know if he was even awake for the whole past week.

All anyone knew was that he was breathing.

And it almost killed Lance. It almost killed Voltron too. Red and Black went crazy to the point that they almost tore down the whole hangar. They had to go on two missions and they almost didn’t form Voltron in time. All of them had to go to the med bay, all for minor injuries, but still, it felt like everything was spiraling downhill.

Now, finally after a week, Keith opened his room’s doors to everyone. He wasn’t hooked up to countless machines anymore, just what was the equivalent to an IV line back on Earth, and a machine that was detecting all his vitals.

Lance did his best to analyze the room rather than meet Keith’s gaze. He had been sent down to ask if he wanted food, and even though a big part of him didn’t want to, he did it.

Because who was he to deny Shiro to check in on his dying brother. Lance had mentally cursed when he thought that. He was a horrible person for even conjuring up the thought.

As he peered around Keith’s room, he looked closer at the machine detecting his vitals, as if it were an intricate art piece. He had never seen a machine like it back on Earth, but it looked much less invasive from what he remembered at the Garrison infirmary that had the same function.

That felt like salt in the wound every time Lance thought about it. How they were in space with extremely advanced technology, but they couldn’t do anything even with all the advanced machines and magic at their disposal. Supposedly, magic couldn’t reverse all that of what had deteriorated already, couldn’t put the pieces back to something that didn’t have them anymore.

“Hunk made that weird soup again. Do you want me to bring you some? Shiro asked if you wanted any,” Lance then said, after what felt like ages of letting the ticks pass them by, of letting Keith’s raspy breathing fill the air of the sterile, cold room.

Keith stayed leaning back and nodded.

“Anything else?” Lance asked, hating how meek and scared his voice sounded, as if Keith would say something that could possibly make everything shittier than it already was.

Like fuck off, I don’t want to see you. You awful person. Maybe I wouldn’t be in this bed if you had checked on me earlier if you hadn’t been so caught up in our ‘rivalry’ and didn’t let it get to this point. Maybe I wouldn’t have gotten another disease from going on a mission with you guys if you had just put your feelings aside. Maybe I wouldn’t be dying-

“No, fine,” Keith huffed out, turning his body slightly away from Lance and pulling the white sheets and fluffy blanket, that apparently Shiro had gotten him, over his shoulder. Lance bit his lip harder as a part of his ached at how Keith turned away from him.

In a rational mindset, Lance knew that Keith would never say anything he thought. But from what Pidge had managed to uncover, if they had caught whatever was happening the tick that Keith had arrived at the Castle the outlook would have been better, not much, but better. So, a big chunk of Lance’s conscience was eating away at how he knew something was off. How he knew and sensed, but he stayed quiet because he thought that was just how Keith was, temperamental. He thought he was just not sleeping well, or just got a common cold, it had happened to the whole team at least once since their time out in space.

Lance thought it was simple, just something to tease Keith about, to push just hard enough to make Keith push back in retaliation, not enough to pierce through and force him to talk.

He couldn’t of have ever imagined it would turn out like this.

Maybe, if he had said something Keith wouldn’t be like he was right now. Dark circles under his eyes, dry, cracking lips, pale complexion, on the brink of death.

That blank look in his eyes, that couldn’t be ignored no matter how he smiled, how he changed his facial expression.

“Maybe some juice,” Keith added, mumbling as he burrowed deeper into the side. Lance hummed in response and started to walk out. He winced as he heard Keith dry heaving as the door slid shut behind him.


 

“He’s stable,” Coran announced to the whole team. They were in the common room, where they had practiced bonding with through mindscape during their first days of arriving at the Castle. They all didn’t acknowledge it was a formal meeting to address what to do about Keith, but they all knew that the sudden cutting short of dinner and Shiro actually interacting with the rest of the team, meant they were going to talk about it.

“He looks like he’s dying,” Pidge then said and all of them flinched.

“Pidge,” Allura said, she sounded beyond tired.

“What?” Pidge asked defensively. She had been the most offensive during the whole situation. Angry, that Coran, Allura, and Shiro were keeping information from the rest of them. Frustrated, that she had to invade privacy just to know if Keith was still alive.

What Pidge had in emotion made up for Hunk’s lack thereof. He was just speechless. Since they had found out, he hadn’t really spoken about it. He cooked a lot more than normal, Lance ruled it a coping mechanism to try to distract himself.

Lance was a mix of both, more of a mess that couldn’t be labeled. At first, he was like Pidge, bursting out and lashing out at the trio that thought they were entitled to keep Keith’s information hidden. All onboard with Pidge hacking away, but when Pidge started digging deeper, started getting into Keith’s history, his family, his past, Lance turn silent and recluse after that.

The guilt started chipping away. The fact that he maybe, possibly could have stopped this. The fact that Keith had lived such a hard life and Lance just teased him all the time, joked about him dropping out, being ignorant of whatever he had going on in his life.

He had been a jackass, and in the last few days of the past week, the guilt that Keith could have died thinking that Lance didn’t give two shits about him, hated him even, ate him alive and spit him out repeatedly to face the same end over and over and over again.

“He’s stable, that’s what matters,” Hunk said, his voice monotone and not loud enough.

“Maybe if you would have let me help, he would have been stable days ago-,” Pidge began to argue. “Maybe if you guys didn’t think you were the only ones entitled to care about him then-,” Pidge added, and Lance could feel the tension rising.

“Pidge, we did what Keith wanted,” Allura responded, her voice still tired and calm.

“What Keith wanted,” Pidge scoffed. “Keith was dying, and you wouldn’t even let us see him.”

“He wanted privacy,” Coran tagged in for Allura, who looked like she couldn’t even handle arguing back as she sat down across Pidge, Lance, and Hunk.

“He didn’t need privacy,” Pidge said. “He needed all of the possible options to make it out alive.”

“Don’t question if we did the best for him, because you know we did,” Allura suddenly burst out. “We did everything we could to get him how he is now, and to think you have the audacity to accuse us of not doing our best-,” Allura continued as he stood up suddenly.

OUR best,” Pidge yelled back as she stood as well. “That’s the problem. It was you guys making the decisions, getting to see him, getting to do everything while we just hope you guys know what the fuck you-.”

“AT LEAST HE’S ALIVE,” Lance lashed out, causing both sides to back down. “At least he’s breathing. Who cares how he got there? He’s alive and stable now. Can we talk about what that means and what the hell we are going to do?” Lance sighed as he brought his face to his hands, leaning over his lap.

There was silence for a few ticks.

“He’s eating,” Hunk then said, louder than last time, filling the quiet room.

“He’s throwing up less,” Shiro then added. Everyone turned. It seemed like Shiro hadn’t spoken in ages if it wasn’t for the sake of a mission or asking someone to check on Keith. “He smiles like everything is fine. He likes the blanket I got for him when we went to the space mall the last movement. He looks much better than last movement too, even if it isn’t perfect, he is doing much better.”

Everyone on Lance’s side took a moment to process what the other side already knew. All of them stood in silence as the tension dissipated.

“He likes the juice that you made from the fruits we collected on the last mission,” Lance then said to Hunk. He seemed to smile, ever so slightly, at that.

“He said he misses his mom,” Pidge then spoke. “She went missing before he left the Blades, and now he thinks he will never see her again. I was thinking we work with Marmora to help find her since Kolivan delayed his visit due to his state last movement. He’s coming tomorrow, and I think it’s something important to Keith, that we try to find her.”

“I agree,” Hunk said.

“Can we ask questions?” Lance then said. “If-you don’t have to answer them if Keith wouldn’t want you to,” he added.

Shiro nodded.

“Was he sick when we knew him? At the Garrison?” Lance asked, awaiting the answer.

“He was going into remission,” Shiro responded. “The system wasn’t dealing with it properly, so when I went to his school and he caught my attention, I was made aware of…his condition,” he took a breath. “I made sure he got treated, but you know with the treatments that are used now, it was easy for him to hide it from a lot of people. When he got admitted to the Garrison it was after I got him treatments. He got a transplant during his first year there, so after that, it was just transitioning.”

Lance nodded. It was hard to tell when someone was going through that. Besides a small device implanted in their back that administered treatments and drugs, it was mostly invisible. It was nothing compared to how it was done in times past, and with the newer treatments, it was even possible to avoid the high doses of drugs and hair loss when the patient was getting better. It was easier to hide, and that’s exactly what Keith had done. Hidden it.

“The system and his history said he always got sick easily, but I think it was lack of care on their part because afterward, he was healthy and strong,” Shiro added. “That’s why I went on Kerberos because he was fine. He said he would be fine,” his voice broke a bit from the calmness he tried to keep it at.

“And he was after you left. He was thriving in the middle of the desert. Solitude and motorbikes, living the dream. He did fine,” Lance said as he tried to keep whatever reservations or worries Shiro was putting on himself at bay. Everyone dryly chuckled.

“Why didn’t he-I don’t now-he just-why didn’t he tell us? Tell us anything? That he was an orphan, in the system, that his dad died, that he had cancer, why?” Pidge then asked, her voice wasn’t angry, just desperate, and hoping to understand.

“He loves you guys so much. You know how he is, run away and ignore anything that is remotely possible of conflict. I can’t speak for him, but I think he was scared of letting you in, of being pushed away. It happened a lot when he was growing up, it even happened the first few years at the Garrison with kids from his previous school. They made fun of his faults and ousted him because of them. He is scared to let you know things about him that will scare you away,” Shiro explained.

“But he’s our family,” Hunk then spoke, his voice breaking, showing some emotion for the first time in days. “We would never-he’s family. We care so much-,” Hunk then exhaled. “We do,” he ran his hands over his face.

“And he cares too,” Allura then spoke up. “He wouldn’t have come back here if he didn’t.”

“There’s just a lot to know,” Shiro said. All of them knew that was a sign to push, to push to the point Keith opened up, because they didn’t have much time left.

Keith didn’t have much time left.

Chapter Text

Pidge

“You go faster with this button,” Pidge instructed, and Keith nodded as he held the game controller in his hands. Pidge had set up a gaming system in Keith’s new room. It wasn’t a difficult task; she just made a portable projector and then hooked the system up to it.

It was the day after the ‘meeting’. What they all had subtly, and almost non-officially concluded, was each taking a day to get Keith to open up. Of course, not that no one else could come in and interact with him, but it was just something they all agreed on, at least for the rest of the current movement.

A day with Keith, out of the four movements he had left. It sounded like a dumb idea, but it was at least reassurance that if Keith’s state went downhill again, Pidge wouldn’t be shut out, so she agreed.

“Seems kind of unfair cause you play all the time,” Keith joked, faintly smiling. Pidge rolled her eyes and smiled.

“Well, it’s a piloting game, so it will be pretty sad if you don’t beat me,” Pidge responded, and Keith laughed. She felt herself frown when he coughed right after.

“I’m fine. Just-,” Keith said as he got interrupted by another cough. “Coran says I caught some respiratory disease from when I was with the Blades,” he continued as the coughing died down. Pidge nodded and started the game as well as picked a course to play on.

“Does it hurt?” she asked, and immediately regretted it.

Of course, it fucking hurts, she thought.

“I mean not as much as other things. I was able to convince Coran to not give me one of those breathing tubes till later,” Keith said as the race started. He sat crisscrossed on his bed with at least three pillows behind him. Since he started letting people visit him and had gotten stable, he got out of the cryosuit and basically only wore clothes that Shiro had gotten from the space mall they had visited last week.

During the week where no one knew if he was going to make it.

Pidge had to admit it was weird not seeing Keith in one of his armors and out of his normal black apparel. Now, he mostly wore pajama bottoms, grey or black sweatpants, and a mix of alien graphic tees and some of Shiro’s clothes he had gathered over the months they had been in space.

She had to admit he looked much more comfortable and they did a good job of hiding how much weight Keith had lost. She had never seen Keith so lean, and even though she hasn’t seen him in months before he came back to the Castle, he still had lost lots of muscle.

Now, it seemed day by day, he was losing at least some weight.

“I’m sorry if I scared you,” Keith then said as they made it to the second lap of the race. Keith was in first and Pidge was a sad excuse for second place. It brought some joy to Pidge that at least bed-ridden Keith still handed her ass to her when it came to piloting.

“Scared me?” Pidge asked as the sound of clicking from the controllers filled the room.

“I hear things-the vents, and also I think I’m going insane because I ask the mice questions and they actually like nod or shake their heads,” Keith laughed lightly as they made it to the last lap.

“You know they are actually magical mice? They can actually understand you,” Pidge said as he tried to catch up to Keith, it was pretty close to impossible though.

“I never actually believed it, but I guess when you are bored out of your mind, you tend to notice things you never did before,” Keith responded as he finished first and mic-dropped the controller on his bed in front of him.

Pidge laughed and rolled her eyes. She had never seen Keith like this. He had always seemed so emo and distant. It was heartbreaking to get to know the playful, open Keith, when he was going to be gone so soon. It’s like every time he showed a new side it was a stab at how her and the rest of the team had failed to truly make him feel like he was a part of the team, part of their family.

Besides Shiro, Pidge doubted anyone knew much about Keith.

You pathetic excuse for a human being, she thought to herself.

“There’s still one more race left,” Pidge said as she finished the race herself. Keith smiled as Pidge set up the next race.

“But you don’t have to apologize,” Pidge reassured. “You have no control over what happens, you shouldn’t apologize for that.”

“Yeah, but it was still terrifying I bet. So sorry that you had to go through that,” Keith said, and the mood quickly shifted from friendly banter to something more serious.

“I know it was overwhelming, but-,” Pidge began to say, but she stopped. She didn’t know if it was appropriate to ask. It sounded selfish in her head more than anything, so she quickly tried to rephrase it, but Keith was quick to stop her.

“Why didn’t I want you guys there?” Keith finished. Pidge’s eyes widened as she wondered how he knew what she was going to say.

Pidge nodded as she kept her eyes on the screen. They finished the first lap, and Keith was yet again in first place. It was honestly just becoming a replay of the last race. She knew she was going to lose, but she kept trying anyway.

“Honest answer?” Keith said. “Nothing good would have come from you guys seeing that.”

“But, I-I could’ve-,” Pidge began to say as they almost finished the last lap. She still didn’t turn to face him, but she was close to bringing herself to.

“Coran and Allura were doing everything they could,” Keith said as the race finished.

“But I could have helped,” Pidge retorted as she turned from where she was sitting. Since Keith woke up, they had set up four bean bag like chairs around his bed, making sure not to block the doorway to the bathroom that was connected to his room. They were taller than the ones back on Earth and they adjusted like memory foam. Besides the chairs and the bed, there wasn’t much filling up the room except some sunk in shelf above Keith’s hospital-like bed with a bunch of medication bottles, blankets, and pillows.

“But you didn’t need to,” Keith said as he set the controller down, the cheering and congratulations sequence of the game played on the screen as it presented first place to Keith. He wasn’t even looking at the screen though.

“Okay,” Pidge decided there would be no point in arguing. “But if anything happens again, I’m going to be here.”

Keith nodded; he was about to speak before a chime was heard. Pidge pulled out her phone and got a text message from Hunk. It was asking to pick up Keith’s lunch.

“I’m going to go get lunch,” Pidge said, and Keith nodded as he got pulled out his own phone and leaned back on his bed.

“Is there still that juice left?” Keith asked as he looked up and stopped Pidge before she walked out.

“Hunk just made more this morning,” Pidge replied. “I’ll bring you extra.”

“Thanks,” Keith smiled as he returned to his phone.


 

“He acts like he’s fine,” Pidge said to Hunk as he filled up a tray of food.

“I don’t think he would want us to see him if he wasn’t fine,” Hunk replied. He was speaking more which helped the whole team out along with Pidge speaking much less. The lack of yelling also settled the peace.

“He said nothing good would have come from us seeing him last week,” Pidge said as she picked at her own plate on the tray Hunk had set up. She was eating lunch with Keith, more so to make sure he ate.

“You would know more than anyone why he would say that,” Hunk said, jabbing at how she had hacked into the security feeds to see Keith during the last movement.

“I stopped after Shiro told me to stop,” Pidge huffed out, not wanting to talk about it. She hadn’t realized at the time, but if Keith ever found out she had tapped into the feeds and watched that, he would probably not be able to look at her the same.

She felt herself frowning as she remembered it.

He was seizing so much, shaking the whole bed and rattling all the wires that were connected to him. For the first two days they would happen constantly, but after the third or fourth Allura was able to find a remedy to stop the seizures.

Pidge remembered watching Shiro hold him down, yelling and repeating words of reassurance as Keith’s horrible grunts and whimpers filled the comms. Times where Allura and Coran had to perform procedures he would wake up and groan in pain for hours before he finally fell asleep. There was a time where he was just hooked up to so many machines and in a medically induced coma. One for breathing, one for food, and countless others that made Pidge regret digging up so much information, for meddling in a part of Keith’s life where he was so helpless and vulnerable.

That’s why when Shiro found out and straight out yelled at her, she didn’t argue and stopped immediately. It didn’t put to rest the fact that she herself felt useless. During that time, she was unable to help Keith despite knowing exactly what he was going through. It made her angry knowing he was barely even breathing and being told to sit back and live like nothing was happening.

At that moment, it felt like everything was happening.

Now, she understood it was for the best, but it still irritated her when she dedicated too much time to the thought.

She sighed as she got up, held the tray that Hunk prepped, and walked back to the room.


 

As she approached Keith’s room, she took a deep breath before entering.

“Lunch time,” she chimed as Keith looked up and went to press a button on the top of the headboard of his bed. It projected a table in front of him. Pidge watched him mess with a knob that changed the size of the table to one he saw fit for both of them. She scooted up a bean bag chair with her feet and lined up with the edge of the table. She set the tray with both of their lunches down and sat in her chair.

“Brought you extra juice,” Pidge said as she eyed the two tall cups of juice she had brought just for Keith.

“Thanks,” he said as he set his phone down on the table and moved so he was facing Pidge, still crisscrossed on his bed.

They ate in silence for a while before either of them spoke.

“Have you been on any missions?” Keith asked as he opened up what looked like some type of jello cup. It was one of the many snacks that the med bay had been supplied with. Coran had been head over heels when they had all scoured the Castle looking for things that could help Keith and found them. He went on and on about the countless flavor combinations, and Pidge was glad to see Keith eating something, even if it was weird alien jello.

“No,” Pidge shook her head as she took a bite of her food. “Lance and Hunk have been on a few. Some rescue missions, but not many cause Red is pretty unstable right now,” she wiped at the edge of her mouth with a napkin.

We’re all pretty unstable right now, she thought to herself.

“She would go crazy when I even got a scratch. She must be going insane,” Keith said sadly as he scooped more jello up, wincing as his IV got caught under his knee.

“Kolivan is coming later today,” Pidge said as she continued eating.

“Shiro told me. You guys are going to try to find my mom?” Keith asked, his voice sounding a bit more hopeful as he set down the jello and poked at the more solid food on his plate.

“Yeah, we are. I know it’s important to you,” Pidge said.

“It’s pretty dumb actually,” Keith lightly laughed.

“What?” Pidge questioned, her tone hesitant to push further.

“That I care so much about a person that wasn’t there for all of my life. I’m basically asking you to look for a stranger as my last request before I die,” Keith explained. “Ah, sorry probably shouldn’t say the d word,” Keith hissed as he drank some of the juice.

Pidge didn’t know what to say. Anything she thought of sounded wrong.

“Sorry, I’m making things depressing. You are coming here to hang out with me. I’ll keep the death talk to a minimum” Keith sighed as he grabbed the blanket Shiro had gotten him and brought it to cover his shoulders, almost like a cape.

“You cold?” Pidge asked as she made a motion to change the temperature.

“No, it’s fine. I like it like this. Plus, Coran would kill you if you turn it up. Would allow for all the bacteria to form and blossom. Then we would have two dead people, and that’s just sad. But you’re not at fucked up as me, so you’d probably just get a cold.”

“Oh, sorry, said I was going to stop doing that,” Keith said as he took another sip of the juice.

“I don’t think it’s dumb, Keith,” Pidge then said, drawing attention from all the death talk. “I went haywire trying to find my family. So, in some way I understand why it means so much. She’s your mom, so we will look for her.”

Keith nodded as he bit his cracked lips. Pidge wanted to yell at him to stop, but she didn’t think she could take Keith’s expression if she were to go through with it.

“You know I always thought I was destined to be alone,” Keith started saying, watching the condensation on his cup. “Born without parents, dropout, sick kid. Sounds like a pretty shitty person to try to bring into your life.”

“Sounds like they would turn out to be stubborn as hell,” Pidge added, Keith smiled.

“So hard to try to get to open up I bet,” Keith commented.

“Yeah, and even harder to try to get them to understand they are loved by so many people,” Pidge said, and Keith stilled.

“Sounds like a difficult person to love,” Keith then said as he leaned back on his bed, bringing the big, fluffy blanket to his chin.

“Do you really think that?” Pidge asked, her tone sad.

Do you really think that you are difficult to love?

“Just seems annoying to deal with a person that’s got so many walls up. Makes you think when people will just give up and leave,” Keith shrugged. “It would be much easier to give up.”

“It would,” Pidge said, making Keith flinch at her response. “But it’s not about the easier thing to do. It’s about being there for someone you care very much about, no matter what they are going through, no matter how much they push you away.”

Keith hummed.

“Would it be annoying if I asked if you really mean all that?” Keith mumbled, almost too quietly for Pidge to hear.

Pidge shook her head as tears started building up in her eyes.

How long had Keith lived believing that they didn’t care about him? How had they all just let it pass over their heads how much Keith thought they saw him as annoying, as a burden to the team?

How had they failed to show him how much they cared about him?

Pidge looked at her lap as she spoke.

“Keith, you’re anything but annoying. We all love you so fucking much. Keith, you’ve never been a bother, we never wished you would go away. God,” Pidge breathed as her voice cracked. “We would do anything to turn back time and tell you that a million times, so you wouldn’t even be questioning it now.”

Pidge waited for Keith’s response, but after moments of silence, she looked up and was faced with his red nose and puffy red eyes. As Pidge set her hands down on the edge of the bed beside the table, Keith grabbed her and hugged her tight, as tight as he could with the strength he had.

And although it wasn’t much, Pidge could feel it. She could feel all the emotions and gratitude that seeped out of Keith, and it melted her.

Pidge soon felt her shoulder get damp and she assumed Keith had started crying.

There were no words spoken, just faint sniffling from both of them as Keith pulled away. He reached behind him into the sunken in shelf and grabbed some tissues, handing some to Pidge.

“It seems pretty pointless keeping the walls up with all of this,” Keith sniffed as he threw his arms up lightly, signaling to the recent situation. He let out a small laugh, coughing a bit.

Pidge blew her nose as Keith kept talking.

“I’m sorry for what I said to you back then, about your family, when you were trying to leave,” Keith said, it physically looked like a weight was lifted off him, and Pidge winced at how much Keith had been holding onto the past.

“Back at the party with the Arusians?” Pidge asked, trying to pinpoint what exactly Keith had been killing himself over. Keith nodded.

“Keith, that was so long ago. I honestly forgot it, it’s fine,” Pidge said, “like I said I was so driven to find my family. I was being impulsive and dumb.”

“Still, I just-,” Keith began, his voice getting nasally as he brought a tissue up to his eyes, “if I am going to die in four weeks, I need to make sure you don’t think I hate you or something. Oh god, now I’m crying like a fucking baby, sorry”

Pidge frowned at that. The whole team was worried that they weren’t showing Keith enough compassion, had waited too long to show him how much he mattered to them, but there Keith was worrying about them. Like as if he had to prove anything to anyone.

“I never thought you hated me,” Pidge reassured. “You are like a brother, a protective, temperamental brother that I love, and Keith, god, why would I hate you?”

“I left. I thought with Shiro being back, and just-,” he paused. “Lance came to me when Shiro came back. He said he was afraid of being useless, of being forced out of Voltron because of all the switches in the Lions. And then I thought about it-,” he paused again as he coughed and wiped at his tears.

“I told him he was being crazy, that there was no way we would replace him. Cause he’s Lance, he’s sociable and lovable, and all the things that are amazing. And I’m a loner. I’m Galra, and it just-I dunno-it seemed like-the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It was almost like a sign for me to leave. I was the useless one, the bad leader, the Galra,” Keith managed to get out between coughs and light sobs.

Pidge stood frozen before she spoke, trying to process all the fallacies in Keith’s argument.

“Keith, no,” Pidge muttered out as she moved the tray to the floor and got rid of the table by clicking on the button Keith had previously pressed.

Pidge tried to gather her thoughts. The loner, that’s what Keith had beat himself up about and it’s a joke that Pidge absentmindedly threw around to tease him.

The loner. The emo. The lone wolf.

She had fed his insecurities and even though she had no way of knowing how it was affecting Keith, she still felt like shit that what she had said had made such a negative impact on him.

“I’m so sorry,” Pidge muttered out as she brought her forehead to his hands, making sure not to mess with his IV. “I-,” she paused. “I said all those things to you without even thinking-“

“No, it’s not your fault,” Keith corrected. “It’s just-I left without thinking about you guys, without trying to talk about it. I left because that’s my instinct, it’s to run. And I ran, and I’m sorry that I ran,” he apologized.

“I’m sorry that I left without saying anything and then coming back when I’m dying. Maybe if I hadn’t left, if I had talked about it, maybe this wouldn’t have-,” Keith began to say.

“No, Keith,” Pidge stopped him, squeezing his hands, his cold, pale hands. “It was coming back, there was no way of stopping it, there was no way of knowing. Gosh, this whole situation is shitty, stop trying to take all the blame you fucking asshole,” Pidge went off.

“You didn’t do anything wrong; it was us!” Pidge suddenly cried out. “We should have been a better family, we shouldn’t have let you leave, we should have made you stay!”

Keith looked wide-eyed at her as she cried with her forehead still to his hands.

“None of this is your fault,” Pidge whispered as tears streamed down her face. “None of it,” she repeated, and Keith pulled her head into his lap and pulled his hands away gently, rubbing her back and trying to console her.

Pidge wanted to tell him to stop, that he shouldn’t have consoled her, but she didn’t have it in her to push Keith away, so she let him soothe her.

“It’s just a shitty situation,” Keith gently said as her crying calmed down, her breathing still unsteady. “It’s just shitty.”

Chapter Text

Hunk

Pidge didn’t come out of Keith’s room until Kolivan arrived. Even at that, the only reason she probably left Keith was because Coran needed to give him meds as well as change his IV and Keith wanted privacy.

And no one was in any position to deny Keith what he wanted.

From then, Kolivan, and other agents in Keith’s team came to visit him. No one really bothered them for a whole day. Only the trio that had been taking care of Keith during the first week were in there with the rest of the agents, probably discussing Keith’s health. Because of this, what was supposed to be Hunk’s ‘day’ got pushed back, but he didn’t really protest. As much as he wanted to see Keith, he wasn’t one to go against what the trio deemed appropriate.

Hunk looked at them as the adults. Not just because of their age, but because they were able to put their emotions aside and do the best for Keith. Or at least not break down and maintain a strong face for him.

It was something that proved to be close to impossible for him, Pidge, and Lance.

He took a deep breath as he gathered his thoughts. Despite the delay, the Blades were supposedly leaving to go find Keith’s mom today, so it was Hunk’s day.

It sounded dumb at first, each taking a day with Keith, a day that was somewhat just them and Keith, just talking, doing whatever Keith was up to doing before he hit a point where he wouldn’t be able to do much. In Hunk’s mind, it felt like they were managing a schedule, when in reality they were planning their last moments with him.

Gosh, I’m not going to cry again, Hunk thought as he wiped at his eye. He took another deep breath as he got back to his task. He had prepped breakfast for Keith. He was in charge of making his meals after Keith let people see him. Coran had given him countless of the jello flavors to mix and match. So, there was one of the tray he carried, along with the last of the juice he was able to make with the fruits they had gathered.

Even though Keith barely touched the more solid foods that everyone else was eating, Hunk still put a portion of it on a plate for him because maybe he would feel up to it.

“Oh, you going to see Keith?” A voice suddenly spoke as the kitchen doors slid open. It was Lance, a bedhead Lance. Hunk nodded as he finished putting everything on the tray.

Seeing Lance only verified how they were just kids, not capable of being responsible for Keith. He was a mess, had been ever since they found out. Even if he didn’t tell him, Hunk knew Lance hadn’t slept right since then, hadn’t eaten well, hadn’t even acted remotely like himself.

He didn’t know exactly why he was reacting in such a polarizing and extreme manner compared to the rest of them, but he knew Lance. He knew that somehow; he was twisting story after story inside his head to somehow guilt himself.

He knew, yet he couldn’t find it in himself to try to help Lance out of the pit he was forming, not when he couldn’t get himself out of his own.

“I think Marmora ended up falling asleep in his room,” Lance then spoke, his voice tired and still doused in sleep. Hunk nodded as he took in the information.

“There’s food in the fridge. You should eat something,” he spoke to an empty room as Lance left the kitchen with only a cup of water.

Hunk sighed as he made his way to Keith’s room.

 


 

 

When he reached Keith’s room, he found him curled up in the middle of his bed. He was on his phone as the three agents and Kolivan laid around him and his bed. One, who Hunk recognized as Regris, was grooming the top of Keith’s head.

Hunk would have flinched a bit, even ran back outside, if Keith didn’t act so nonchalantly to it happening, so peaceful and comforted. Keith’s eyes then fell on him as he entered the room and Regris stopped to also meet his gaze.

“Oh, hi, Hunk,” Keith said as he put his phone down and suddenly blushed a little, noticing Hunk had walked in on whatever had been happening. One by one, the pack that was formed around Keith woke up, somehow sensing Keith’s sudden change of emotion.

Hunk felt guilty ruining whatever moment had been happening.

I should have just waited. Lance told me they were here, but I didn’t think this is what I would be walking into.

“Kit?” Kolivan then spoke, he was sitting in one of the chairs across from Hunk, on the other side of the bed. He seemed to have fallen asleep with his head on Keith’s lap.

“This-Hunk, he is the yellow paladin, the best leg,” Keith weakly said as he sat up, everyone around him paying mind to his IV. Hunk noticed how it seemed to be administering different fluids from the last time he had seen Keith. The last time he had seen Keith though was when he and Lance had walked past his room. Keith wasn’t even awake when that had happened.

The pack hummed as they stretched and got up from their sleeping positions.

“There’s breakfast in the kitchen. I brought-,” Hunk took a deep breath. “I brought Keith food.” Keith smiled at him. Kolivan patted Keith’s head before he got up himself.

“We are going to talk to the princess after we eat,” Kolivan said, and Keith nodded. “We will report anything as soon as we can.”

Hunk watched them part and he felt an ache. All of the agents truly seemed like a family, and Keith seemed so open and relaxed around them, in a way that he rarely ever saw Keith act with Voltron. It sat with him the more he thought about it.

Hunk always thought Keith didn’t like to be touched, much less groomed by someone almost twice his size, but he just let all the agents tenderly take care of him, comfort him. Hunk wondered if all this time, Keith wanted that from them.

Why didn’t I hug you more? Hunk thought as he brought the tray closer to the bed as all of the Blades filtered out.

“Sorry, that must have been weird to walk in on,” Keith said as he went to click something on his headboard, projecting a table for Hunk to set his tray down on. He rubbed the back of his neck nervously and lightly laughed.

It’s like I’m seeing a whole new side of you.

“No, not at all,” Hunk was quick to reassure. He paused as he set out everything. “Do they-does that happen at lot at the base?” Hunk brought himself to ask.

Have you let people in all this time? Did we just not make you feel comfortable?

“Ha,” Keith laughed as he wrapped a fluffy blanket at his hips, setting it on his crisscrossed legs as he got comfortable. “They just started doing it during the first week at the base, and I got used to it, I guess. Marmora honestly feels like the tribes we heard about in history class at the Garrison. Like the hunters and gatherers or whatever, mixed with some type of cat,” Keith joked as he picked up a glass of juice.

Hunk smiled and nodded as he bit his lip.

“So, are you guys like on rotation or something? Who’s next?” Keith suddenly asked as he put his glass down and went to pick up a spoon and the jello cup.

Hunk looked at him before he understood what he was saying.

“What makes you think that?” He lightly laughed.

“Pidge, then you,” Keith said as he dug a spoonful of jello into his spoon.

“Uh-,” Hunk hesitated. “I guess.”

“Huh, nice system,” Keith spoke between spoonfuls. “I guess,” it took a tick for Hunk to process his expression as mocking his previous comment.

“Lighten up. I’m the one in the hospital bed,” Keith said after Hunk was at a loss for words.

I’ve never seen him like this.

“Hey, sorry. I think all the drugs Coran has been giving me are getting rid of my filter. I’ve been saying things without thinking since he gave me something new this morning that Regris suggested,” Keith rambled on.

“He might act differently, but it’s still him, just probably a side of him that he tries to hide. Don’t point it out though, just act like it’s Keith. Cause it is, you just might upset him if draw too much attention to it,” Shiro had told him yesterday.

“Also, he will say a lot of dumb things. But I guess he’s just like that around me. I didn’t notice it was any different until Allura pointed it out the other day. You are going to get to know Keith, and just the idea that he doesn’t really have much control over how vulnerable he will get to be can be pretty terrifying to him, so just,” he paused.

“Just let him be,” Allura had finished and Shiro nodded.

Hunk remembered what had been explained to him, and he sensed this is what they had been talking about.

“No, it’s fine,” Hunk said. “This is the last of the juice, by the way, so don’t drink it so fast.”

“That fucking sucks,” Keith rolled his eyes as he dramatically groaned. Hunk couldn’t help but widen his eyes more. “Sorry,” Keith then repeated, and Hunk’s eyes widened more.

“Do I look that bad?” he then asked Hunk and he was forced to talk back.

“No, you don’t,” he responded.

“You look like I’m already dead,” Keith then mumbled as he went to drink some of his juice. Hunk shook his head as he set his hands down on the edge of the table.

“Sorry, it’s just-,” Hunk began to say, but all the words seemed wrong.

“A shitty situation?” Keith suggested.

Hunk nodded.

“Pidge brought video games yesterday,” Keith said. “What did you bring?”

“Oh,” Hunk said as he went to grab at his own food. “I didn’t really-“

“You really are persistent,” Keith then spoke. Hunk turned to look at him and noticed he was poking at the solid food on his plate. It was a breakfast burrito. “You shouldn’t waste ingredients on me. Coran told me that in about another week or two, I’ll feel like shit and won’t want to eat anything solid.”

Hunk winced. Keith was being so direct in a way Hunk couldn’t match, and the way he changed the subject in a blink of an eye was something that Hunk’s morning brain could not keep up with.

“Uh-I,” he stumbled through his words.

“I already feel like shit, though, but apparently I won’t even want to move. Shiro said he would spoon-feed me jello. I never thought that I would be spoon-fed, always thought I would die young enough to not have to go through that,” Keith rambled on.

“Not this young, though,” Keith huffed as he set his jello down and rubbed at his eyes. He sniffled and Hunk realized he had started tearing up.

What the hell did Coran give him?

“Keith,” Hunk brought himself to say.

“I can’t stop talking,” Keith laughed, his voice was tainted in sniffles, his nose red. “Like with the Blades the only reason I shut up was cause everyone was asleep. Regris threatened to tape my mouth shut, asshole.”

“Please stop looking at me like I’m crazy,” he turned to Hunk.

“Sorry-it’s just-,” Hunk fumbled through his words. “You never-,” he paused.

“Just let him be. Don’t draw attention to it.”

“Why do you like the juice so much?” Hunk asked, and Keith looked like he was expecting a more up-front question, but then his face fell to be more relaxed as he processed the question.

“Ha,” Keith smiled as he picked up the cup. “It’s just sweet and tangy. It’s like a mix of different fruits back on Earth.”

“It’s like something my dad used to make when I was little,” Keith admitted, sadly smiling.

“Oh,” Hunk said. He had learned what had happened to Keith’s dad. He assumed he wasn’t close with his family from the lack of him talking about it, but he hadn’t learned he hadn’t had one for a long time until the last week.

The idea of Keith growing up, all alone, for so long stung. It stung more that no one, but Shiro, had known about it until recently. Hunk imagined Keith at school, at the Garrison during holidays. He thought of how when Shiro had work and missions, Keith had to have been left alone while everyone else was with their family. He had to have felt so lonely, and to keep those emotions all inside for so long. Hunk didn’t know how he hadn’t broken down before. He didn’t know how he wasn’t crying and letting out all those pent-up emotions out now of all times.

“I’m guessing everyone knows about my dad now,” Keith sighed as he bit his lip.

“No-,” Hunk began to excuse. “Yeah, sorry,” he admitted after a tick or two. Keith just shrugged it off.

“Pidge says you don’t really talk about your family a lot,” Keith said as Hunk silently took a bite of his sandwich.

“I do, just. I guess the more I talk about them, the more I miss them,” Hunk shrugged, trying not to further add to the tension.

“Fair,” Keith said as he poked at the breakfast burrito. “What’s in here?”

“Well I don’t know the names exactly of the alien stuff. But it tastes like eggs and sausage,” Hunk replied. Keith hummed as he grabbed it with both of his hands and took a small bite.

“It tastes good,” he smiled as he set it down. Hunk smiled back, even though he knew that was probably all Keith was going to eat of it.

“So, you didn’t answer what you have planned,” Keith then brought up as he poked at some fruits Hunk had brought in a small bowl.

“Uh, I didn’t really plan anything,” Hunk admitted, almost mumbling. He felt bad that Keith had been expecting something.

“Would you listen to one of my suggestions?” Keith asked, his tone mischievous, and Hunk raised an eyebrow as he hesitantly nodded.

 


 

 

“This doesn’t seem like a good idea,” Hunk said as he hooked Keith’s IV bag and small machine to a pole-like structure. It floated instead of rolling around on wheels and was able to move on its own.

“Well, you would have stopped if you really believed that,” Keith smiled as he sat up more, letting his legs and feet dangle off the bed.

“Are you sure you can-,” Hunk began to ask as he finished wrapping all the wires and tubes to the pole’s hooks, fastening everything by clicking a button. Keith just nodded as he made an effort to stand up.

He didn’t wait for Hunk, and before he had the time to react and catch him, Keith was on the floor.

The pole hung diagonally above him, adjusting to his position.

“Keith!” Hunk yelped as he dropped down to help him up. “Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he nodded as he let Hunk help him up, grabbing the forearm closest to him with both of his hands, making Hunk notice how weak and frail they seemed. “At least we know the pole works. Imagine stripping on that type of technology-“

“Keith!” Hunk gasped.

“Sorry, no filter,” he blushed and nervously laughed. “You have to admit though-“

“No, don’t,” Hunk facepalmed with his free hand.

“But where do you want to go?” Hunk asked.

“Is it dumb to say just anywhere but here? I haven’t left this room for almost two weeks, and from what Coran told me, I either get out now, or die with the memory of a white room bored into my mind.”

Hunk nodded. “Can you go to the pool?” Hunk asked and Keith sighed.

“Coran would hate me if I went in, but maybe just dip my feet in. It can’t make anything worse. Not like anyone can catch what I have, cause unlike me, normal people have immune systems,” Keith rambled yet again, and Hunk couldn’t get used to it.

Keith talking so much.

“Just act like it’s Keith. Cause it is, you just might upset him if draw too much attention to it.” Hunk remembered as he tried his best not to make any accidental comments that would make Keith uncomfortable.

He just didn’t want to say the wrong thing.

“Okay, let me go get towels,” Hunk said, and Keith squeezed his forearm as he smiled nervously.

“Is it okay if I come with you? I know it’s hard with me holding on-” Keith asked, and Hunk nodded quickly, helping Keith slip into some plastic slide-ons.

They gathered the towels and slowly, but surely made their way to the pool. Unlike the first time Keith had gone to the pool, there was much less falling and frustration.

Hunk knew how to use the anti-gravity technology, and as they entered the room, they stepped on a platform that guided them to the edge of the pool. Hunk helped Keith sit down comfortably and nudged his pole away from the edge of the pool as he rolled up his pant legs.

Keith hissed immediately as he dipped his feet in. He then smiled, and Hunk let out a breath he was holding.

He was in the middle of rolling up his own pants until he heard sniffling. He turned to Keith, who was rubbing at his eyes, and trying to shield his face from Hunk seeing it. Hunk decided it was best to not draw attention to it, but then Keith spoke, his small, hiccupping voice filling the empty space.

“I don’t even know why I’m crying,” Keith sighed as he lightly laughed. “This might sound dumb,” he paused before speaking, and Hunk hated how often he started his thoughts that way.

This might sound dumb…

This might sound stupid…

Sorry if this is weird…

With a type of uncertainty, he never experienced from Keith before.

“It’s not,” Hunk said before Keith was even allowed to finish the sentence. He bit less as his lip before continuing.

“I never learned how to swim, and I always planned to learn how to when we got back to Earth. I always just stuck my feet in or sat at the edge,” Keith admitted.

“Oh,” Hunk said, letting Keith continue on, hoping he would.

“This is going to sound super sad, but fuck it, I’m dying anyway and that’s pretty sad,” Keith huffed as he gently kicked the water. “Because I was in the system for so long no one ever taught me. Some kids learned how to from their friends, but I never really talked to anyone really.

During summer though we would go to the pool and then the other kids would make fun of me cause I couldn’t swim and would only sit on the edge and watch. I didn’t really understand all they were saying. I didn’t really care.

But then they kept saying things, and I got angry, so I tried to push them away. They got mad and pushed me into the water. I tried pulling myself out, but they kept stepping on my fingers when I would grab onto the edge.

After that, I said I didn’t want to go for pool days and would stay far away from water. At the Garrison, Shiro tried to teach me, but I guess I never got over it. And here, I heard there was a pool. Allura said it was safe and if it detected you were drowning it would do some magic stuff and save you, so I thought it would be perfect to learn.

But Lance probably told you how that didn’t work out,” Keith laughed as looked ahead of him, into the water.

“And now, I guess it’s pretty pointless to learn when I’ll be gone in less than a month. But there’s so much I wanted to do. I was going to beat the Galra’s ass. I was going to find my mom. I was going to maybe find myself a hotass man, or finally tell him how much I love him, and maybe after this was all done, I was going to I don’t know, live and have a family. And just-”, Keith stopped. “That’s not happening.”

Hunk frowned at that. He once prided himself on always knowing what to say, but at the moment, he felt like nothing he said was right.

“Sorry, you probably didn’t want to hear-,” Keith started as he subtly wiped his nose, almost passing it off as sweeping hair off his face.

“No, I do. God, Keith we all want to hear you talk,” Hunk let out, for a tick, not caring if the words were the right ones. Keith was leaving, like truly, forever leaving, and no words would be perfect.

And it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the words aren’t ‘right’.

“Keith, you know you can talk to us, right?” Hunk asked and Keith didn’t respond, just looked up and let his arms behind him support his weight.

“It’s just-,” he breathed. “I-I’ve never had anybody except Shiro and my dad. And then they both left. God, I thought I lost Shiro again. And I know you guys care, but it’s just-my life is so shitty, and I am such a mess, and growing up no one really wanted to hear about it. Hell, who wants to hear about someone who’s foster home almost drowned them?” Keith sighed. Hunk could tell he was trying not to cry.

He almost felt guilty for hearing all of this. Keith was probably fifty shades of drugged up, and Hunk didn’t know if Keith really trusted him to tell him all this or if he was just extremely high.

Either way, Hunk responded as if Keith was trusting him because a huge part of him wanted Keith to have trusted him, them, enough to open up about something so intimate.

“We do, Keith. We want to hear all of it. We want you to tell us all of it,” Hunk was quick to speak. “Because we all care so much about you. You don’t have to be afraid to tell us, you don’t,” he repeated. “So, please don’t say sorry for opening up.”

Keith hummed a response.

“Okay,” Keith said as he sat straight up and kicked more at the water.

There was silence for a bit that allowed Hunk to think. He never thought he would ever be in the situation where he would tell Keith to open up and he wouldn't end up with a broken bone or a nasty bruise. And it felt dumb and horrible to think about now. He felt like an idiot for not just taking this step before. He was only taking it when it was too late. When Keith was drugged up, barely able to stand on his own, and crying constantly from everything pumping through his body. 

The more he thought about it though, Hunk realized that it was actually so easy despite all those circumstances. It was easy to talk to Keith even when the drugs were wearing off. Even though being left with a nasty bruise was one of his many fears in talking with Keith, he easily came to the conclusion that Keith would never actually do that. Keith wouldn't' attack him for talking. If anything, Keith seemed so relieved to finally be letting it out. 

I'm such an idiot, Hunk thought as he realized how easy it was to break the emotional dam that Keith had built up.

“I got diagnosed when I was seven,” he spoke, and Hunk straightened up, realizing Keith was actually going to tell him more about himself. He scooted closer to Keith as he spoke. Keith smiled at him and Hunk smiled back as he grabbed Keith’s hand and comforted him in any way he thought could work.

He was shocked when Keith’s didn’t flinch or shrivel back from his touch. He just accepted it. It made Hunk wonder what stopped him from doing it before.

After the first few words, Keith went off. He talked about his diagnosis, how the foster home he was at pushed him away when he would knock at their door at night with a bloody nose and bleeding gums. He told Hunk about fainting at school and then waking up in a hospital.

He was scared and confused, and he was so small. So small and Hunk’s chest ached as he went on. Because Keith was so strong.

He was so strong to have gone through that. All the harsh treatments that had to be done for four years before he even began remission. All the bullying he went through from horrible kids at his home and at school who didn’t understand what he was going through. Hunk would never consider himself an angry person, but as Keith started spewing about his foster homes, how they would lock him in dark closets and leave him there for hours, he felt livid.

He could feel Keith shake as he talked about that. The way his brows furrowed seemed unconscious, but the feelings were all there. He must have been so terrified, and Hunk just imagined keeping all of that inside from everyone, from the people he had been living with for months.

Hunk held his breath as Keith went on about the Garrison. How he was so angry all the time and violent because he was holding so much inside. It tore Hunk down more when he talked about how happy he was becoming, only to have it all crumbling down when Shiro went missing during the Kerberos mission.

After that Keith started bawling, unable to continue for a while. Hunk brought his head to his shoulder and let him cry. He rubbed his back as he talked about how lonely he was. How terrified he was of it coming back when he was all alone, stealing medical supplies just to check every week.

And Hunk had been there. He had interacted with him so many times and to think that he could have altered Keith’s whole course of life with just going up to him. Hunk couldn’t even fit all the different possibilities in his head.

When Keith finished talking, Hunk helped him to stand up and dry his feet before he slipped back into his slippers. He also helped him clean his sticky face from all the tears before they made their way back to Keith’s room.

 


 

 

“Comfortable?” Hunk asked as Keith settled into his bed and Keith nodded as he pulled the blankets over himself. “Are you sure you won’t get too hot?” he asked, and Keith smiled as he curled in more on himself.

“The blanket Shiro got me adjusts to my temperature. That’s why he got it for me,” Keith shook his head and Hunk nodded. “Is it okay if I-,” Keith said before he got interrupted by a yawn.

“Yeah, of course,” Hunk said as he went to dim the lights to the room.

“Sorry, it’s just the crying plus the drugs make me really sleepy,” Keith mumbled as he turned to his side, facing Hunk.

“It’s fine,” Hunk responded as he stood close to the doorway.

“But thank you, for listening to you know,” Keith mumbled as he struggled to keep his eyes closed.

Hunk nodded and hummed.

“It’s going to be hard for Lance to top this,” Keith sighed as he finally gave in to droop of his eyelids.

“How do you know that Lance is next-,” Hunk began to ask.

“You guys are too obvious,” Keith replied as he took a deep breath, settling deeper into his bed.

Hunk smiled as Keith seemed to peacefully fall asleep. Even though it was only the afternoon, by the Castle’s time, the sight of Keith made Hunk want to go take a nap as well.

He sighed as he slowly exited the room, leaving the lights dimmed and the door open as he made his way out. He hoped it would make Keith feel just a bit more comforted.

He hoped it helped, even if it was the smallest action.

Chapter Text

Lance knew it was inexplicably his day to be with Keith. He knew he had to get up and wander all the way to that horrid, white, sterile room that Keith had been harbored in and face him.

But even the fact that he knew all these things, wasn’t helping his limbs move any faster out of his bed. When he managed to will himself to stand up, he started making his way to the kitchen. He grabbed a quick snack and started towards Keith’s room.

He made no effort to go beyond a short stride. Even the lack of effort didn’t make his heart stop beating any less fast. He was fucking terrified of facing Keith, for reasons he couldn’t even vocalize. It was just this thought, this unreasonable, but the somehow plausible connection that his mind was able to make that everything that had happened was all his fault. At the very least, even if he ignored all the things that bounced around in his mind, he felt like a terrible human being.

All the times he had made fun of Keith. All the things he had said as a joke. Calling him a dropout, a loner, an outsider. He never knew that one day all those things might have been the last things Keith took to his grave. The fact that he had been the one to find him, he had been the one to drag him and carry him with all the adrenaline his body could muster, it stuck with him.

As much as he would like to deny, it kept him up at night. He didn’t know if Keith was going to be fine. All he thought in those few moments was that Keith was unresponsive, and he was far from fine, and closer to death.

Lance’s whole body shook as he thought of that. The fact that Keith could have died. He shook his head to try to somehow shake the thought out of his body.

I’m fucking sick. Why am I thinking of this? He’s fine now.

The thing was that Keith wasn’t fine. He was still dying. He was going to die.

Stop. Stop thinking that, Lance practically begged his mind to stop the line of thoughts. He couldn’t keep going down that same spiral. That damn spiral had kept him up for days, and the sad reality was that Lance knew how to stop the spiral but refused to go seek out the solution.

Because the solution was talking to Keith, and that was the top last thing he wanted to do. But Keith was dying, and he couldn’t just push everything away in hopes of it all getting better.

He sighed as he made his way to the doorway of Keith’s room. The sliding door had been left open. At dinner the previous day, he knew someone had mentioned that Keith had asked for it to be that way, but by the time Hunk explained why Lance was out of the kitchen and back to moping in his room.

As he managed to peep in, he saw Keith. It was almost enough to make him bolt back to his room and just let Allura or anyone else switch days with him, but then he heard annoyed grunts. Then there were the occasional warning beeps of machines followed by a loud “fuck”.

After a painstakingly long time of hearing Keith struggle with whatever it was he was doing, Lance took a deep breath and walked into the room. He felt Keith’s eyes on him before he actually saw them.

“Lance,” Keith awkwardly said after Lance made no attempt at greeting him. Lance just nodded in response as he made his way to the edge of the bed.

“Need help?” Lance brought himself to somehow ask. Keith nodded as he took his hands off his tubes and wires.

“I tried to put another pillow, but I guess that’s hard when you live inside of a fucking spiderweb,” Keith dryly chuckled as Lance systematically and carefully tried to move the tubes and adjust Keith’s position.

“Hurts?” Lance asked as he went to move the settings on the bed along with the pillow behind Keith.

“It’s fine,” Keith grumbled as he turned his gaze ever so slightly.

“Just tell me if you’re comfortable, Mullet,” Lance rolled his eyes.

You are stubborn as hell. Oh my god.

A few ticks passed before Keith huffed out an answer.

“Maybe one more pillow,” Keith gave in as he sat up more, allowing for Lance to slip in a pillow behind him. He leaned back down and gave a small smile as he settled into his bed. Lance sighed as he noticed how much more comfortable Keith seemed than before he had offered to help.

It was pretty sad imagining Keith trying to do it on his own. From what Lance had walked into the remote to the bed got tangled in the sheets, and in the process of trying to adjust the bed and add another pillow from his tucked in position, Keith had made an absolute fucking disaster.

If anything, Lance saw a visual representation of how much Keith hated to ask for help. A terminal illness wasn’t even enough to budge his stubborn ass. Lance bit his lip, trying got keep himself from frowning the more he thought about it.

Keith being sick.

It’s your fault, the stupid thought made its way to the front of his mind.

“Thanks,” Keith then filled the silence and Lance was forced to make eye contact again.

“No problem,” Lance said, and he hated how scared his voice sounded.

After a while, it felt like they were both practically drowning in tension and awkwardness. The only thing that stopped another long pause of silence was the start of one of Keith’s coughing fits. It made Lance spur into action and grab a glass of water on a projected table beside Keith’s bed. He helped Keith sit up slightly and handed him the cup.

“Thanks,” Keith said again, and Lance nodded as he took the glass from him and set it back down. Lance took a deep breath as he prepared himself for another long pause, but Keith suddenly spoke up.

“I don’t see any food.”

Lance perked up.

“Huh?” He questioned.

“Pidge and Hunk brought food,” Keith said, and Lance could have sworn he said it with a smirk.

“You’re hungry?” Lance asked and Keith rolled his eyes as he lightly coughed and took all the blankets off of himself, minding the tubes.

“I won’t be for long. I usually throw up around now and the pain meds wear off,” Keith said with a light laugh and Lance didn’t know how to react. “Sorry. I shouldn’t say that. I’ll shut up,” Keith said and laughed again, but nervously that time.

Lance still didn’t respond at all.

“Lance,” Keith spoke.

“Yeah?” He brought himself to respond.

“You look horrible,” Keith said, and Lance’s eyes widened.

“W-what?” Lance shook his head as he processed what was being said.

“You look like you are on death’s door,” Keith simply said, and Lance suddenly felt an urge to respond back with the same wit and snide as Keith.

“Says you,” Lance said before he processed what he was saying. “Oh my god,” Lance then quickly said. “I-oh god, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that-,” he was quick to apologize, but then was interrupted by Keith laughing.

He’s laughing so much, for some reason Lance felt a bit of anger at the thought of Keith laughing off death.

“There’s the idiot I know. I thought you were a carbon copy or something,” Keith said after his fit of laughter.

“But seriously you look horrible. Aren’t you like obsessed with your skincare routine and your sleep schedule? Why are you such a fucking disaster?” Keith then added.

What the actual fuck, Lance thought. Then he tried to formulate an answer in his head.

Maybe cause you almost died. Maybe cause I was the one that found you and you bled all over me? Maybe because I was the one that told you that you were dying, screamed in your face that you were dying.

Because I care so much about you that it hurts to live thinking that you aren’t going to be a part of my life anymore for a reason I can’t even formulate into actual words. Maybe cause I blame myself for that reality even though this isn’t about me at all and I should just suck it up and be there for you-

“Lance?” Keith pulled him out of his thoughts. “Sorry, that was harsh. I shouldn’t be joking about it.”

Lance hummed a response before he was conscious of doing so.

“But oh my god, I could swim in those dark circles. Are you sure your mom didn’t fuck a raccoon?” Keith then rambling as he sat criss-crossed in his bed. “Sorry-,” he began to apologize again before Lance found himself smiling and starting to laugh.

“I’m sorry,” Lance then said as he stopped laughing. Keith was staring at him, probably from his sudden burst of laughter. “Um-,” Lance tried to begin. “How are you?”

He knew it was an awful question to ask the tick it left his mouth.

“Dying,” Keith said in his most serious voice. Lance found himself frowning before he processed it, “Sorry, it’s just like everyone gets so weird with all the death jokes. Pidge and Hunk got used to it though, and I like making them. And I am a dying man, so you will listen to my wishes,” he rambled as he made some elaborate hand gestures to go along with his words.

“Coran needs to lower my dosage. The drugs start wearing off around this time and he hasn’t even come yet, and I’m like this,” Keith then calmed down. Lance took the opportunity to drag a bean bag chair to where he stood by Keith’s bedside and sat down.

“Is it painful?” He brought himself to ask. Lance could already tell Keith wasn’t expecting that type of question.

“Yeah,” Keith sighed, and it seemed like a bit of his energy died down as he brought the fluffy blanket on his lap. “Not as much as without the drugs, but like a buzz, a tingle. Like I can feel something is supposed to be there, but I can’t exactly feel it.”

Lance nodded like he understood, but his facial expression didn’t do his acting justice.

“You think I’m crazy,” Keith pouted as he suddenly lifted his arms to pull the blanket over his back and wrap himself from behind.

“No,” Lance said almost too quickly. It got awkward again after that.

Was it like this for Pidge and Hunk? Lance started thinking. Both of them hadn’t really talked about it. If he was being honest maybe they had, but he had just locked himself up from anyone that he didn’t hear any of their experiences.

I should have paid more attention during dinner, he regretted.

“Lance,” Keith breathed, cutting yet again into Lance’s thoughts. He perked up as he drew his attention back to Keith.

Lance’s eyes widened as he took in his complexion. He was sweating, his eyes were droopy, and his mouth was agape from how he was panting for air.

“Hey, Keith are you okay? What hurts?” Lance sprang into action as he stood up from the chair and hovered over Keith.

Keith only groaned in response as he started curling in on himself.

“I think the meds wore off,” he hissed as he grabbed at his stomach. He then turned dangerously pale and turned away from Lance to throw up to the other side of his bed. Lance’s body moved before he could even think as his hands grabbed Keith’s shoulders to keep him from tumbling over.

He soothed his back as he finished, and Keith reached back to grab at the tissues behind him. Lance let one of his hands off Keith’s back as he grabbed them for him and handed one to Keith. He weakly took it as he settled back into bed. Lance went to the bathroom to grab a cup of water for Keith to rinse his mouth before he heard Keith hiss in pain again. He turned back abruptly and drew Keith’s head to his chest. He could feel Keith panting for air as he started calming down.

As Lance thought it was quieting down, he stood up and Keith laid back.

“Are you-,” Lance begin to ask before Keith hunched over to the side Lance was on just like he had on the other side of his bed. Lance was already hunching over to soothe him, but then all he saw was red.

Keith had started coughing and blood sputtered to the floor. Lance could feel the same rush as he felt when he had found Keith in the showers and his pulse rang in his head.

No! Not again! This is bad, really bad.

“Keith!” Lance yelled as he rushed to get a towel and put against Keith’s mouth. He helped Keith settle back and hold the towel in place as he fumbled with his comm.

“I’m going to call Coran,” Lance panted, and Keith didn’t respond as he settled back into bed and started moaning in more pain.

Just as Lance was trying to work his comm, the ship’s alarms started going off. He tried to stay calm as he yelled through the comm.

“Coran! Keith is throwing up blood. He’s in pain and he’s not okay! Someone needs to come!” Lance couldn’t even hear himself over the alarms, but also just his own pulse.

“Number three, we are being attacked-,” Coran started talking, but Lance stopped listening as he turned back to the sight of Keith coughing and blood streaming down his face.

“But Keith-,” Lance cut him off as he rushed over and set his comm down on the shelf above Keith’s bed. “Coran you need to come. NOW!” Lance yelled.

“Where’s Lance?” He heard Hunk ask on the comm.

“Coran!” Lance yelled as Keith stopped coughing and gripped the fabric of Lance’s shirt.

“Is Keith okay?” Pidge’s frantic voice could be heard, and Lance could faintly hear a buzz in the background, meaning she was probably already in her lion.

“Coran what do I do?” Lance started panicking as he gently held Keith who seemed to be holding onto Lance for dear life. “He’s in pain. Coran!”

“I will be right there-,” Coran said before Lance could feel the whole castle shake.

“What was that?” Lance asked, but it came out louder than he meant it.

“They are targeting the Castle. Coran put the shield up-,” Shiro commanded.

“I have to make my way to Number Four,” Coran said and Lance thought. If Coran left his post no one would be able to control the Castle. And even if he took Lance’s place, the Castle would still be in danger and in the process of Lance making it out something could happen.

They wouldn’t be able to form Voltron until Lance got out there.

Shit! Shit! Shit!

“Coran go back! Just tell me what to do,” Lance decided.

“Number three-,” Coran started.

“If you leave your post no one can control the Castle. And if I leave Keith alone, he’s going to freak out and something could happen. I can’t leave and you can’t leave, so just tell me what to do,” Lance said, trying to sound as calm as he could with Keith clinging onto him.

“We can hold them back without Voltron for as long as we have to,” Shiro said, but Lance could hear the hesitant tone and the way he was trying to stay calm. “Just take care of Keith.”

“Okay,” Coran was then heard. “Particle barrier up. I’ll pull up the camera to Keith’s room from here. Are you sure Number Three?”

“Yeah, yeah. Just tell me what I need to do,” Lance yelled in the general direction of where his comm lied.

“Okay, talk to me what is going on?” Coran asked.

“He was fine, and then he started saying his meds were wearing off. He threw up, and I went to get him water, but then he threw up blood the second time, and now it’s not stopping. It’s slowing down, but he won’t talk to me,” Lance reported frantically. “Coran, he looks like he’s in a lot of pain.”

“Okay, Number Three. It’s getting worse. Lance, you are going to have to give him a dose of two medications. One will be for the pain and the other will help with-,” Coran started to explain.

“Where are they?” Lance cut him off. He needed to help Keith fast. He didn’t need to know the details.

“If you push on a panel of the wall on the right side of his bed, all the medications should be there. You will have to put the right dose into his line,” Coran instructed. Lance could hear him say something else to the team, but he zoned out as he focused on the task at hand.

“Okay,” Lance breathed. “Okay.”

He tried to stand up from his crouched position, but Keith wouldn’t let his vice grip loose.

“Hey, buddy,” Lance tried to calm the shaking in his voice. “I-I’m going to get your medicine to make you okay, but I need you to let me go,” he hated the way his voice shook regardless.

“Hurts,” Keith sputtered.

“I-I know. I know it hurts, but-,” Lance took another deep breath. “But Coran is going to tell me how to make it stop hurting okay? Can you let me go, buddy? So, I can get your meds,” Lance reasoned, and Keith took a raspy breath as he let go of Lance’s blood-stained shirt in favor of clenching his eyes and fists shut.

“You got it Number Three?” Coran asked and Lance flinched.

“Yeah, I see the meds. It’s all in Altean. Which ones are the right one?” Lance asked as he pressed on the wall and accessed the meds.

“The clear liquid next to the orange bags and the blue bottle,” Coran instructed as he guided him through the comm from looking through the camera.

It felt like an eternity as Coran guided him through administrating the medicine. The way Keith moaned in pain didn’t help time speed up at all. It just made Lance feel like everything he did was prolonging something terrible. Coupled with the fact that the ship kept moving from blasts made to the particle barrier, also didn’t help.

What if the blasts made him do something wrong? What if he grabbed the wrong medicine? What if he gave him the wrong dosage? What if Keith died and this time it truly was his fault?

Lance’s hands shook as he did the last step of what Coran instructed.  

Keith didn’t react until after a few ticks which made Lance think he did something wrong.

Fuck, I ruined it. I ruined-

Then Keith gasped and relaxed. Lance rushed towards the other side of the bed to face where Keith was facing. He kneeled on both his knees and went to grab his hand with both of his as he laid on his side.

“Buddy?” Lance asked as Keith seemed to react well to the meds. The relief that brushed over Lance was enough to make him stop paying attention to the drying blood on Keith’s lips or the red mess that surrounded them in the white room.

“Lance?” Keith let out as he slowly opened his eyes and gently squeezed Lance’s hand.

“Yeah, it’s me,” Lance comforted and for the first time during the whole ordeal, he realized he was crying as he saw his tears drop down to the red-stained mattress beneath them.

“I’m sorry,” Keith quietly let out as he started closing his eyes. Lance’s mouth stood agape as he processed Keith’s words as his vitals steadied and his breathing became even.

“No, you don’t have to apologize, Mullet,” he spoke out into the quiet room, the only noise was the faint beeping of Keith’s stats steadying. “You don’t have to apologize for anything.”


 

“No,” Lance said as the everyone filtered into the room. Everyone still had their armor on and Coran looked like he had dashed at full speed to get to the room.

“Lance, you have-,” Hunk spoke, trying to word it right. “Blood.”

“We can wash Keith up while you go to the showers,” Shiro spoke up as he made his way to the end of Keith’s bed and try not to look too much at his brother who looked like he had been in a horror scene, but managed to sleep peacefully.

“I’m not leaving,” Lance said as he held Keith’s hand and continued to lay his head on the bed, ignoring the gazes of everyone.

“We have to wash the room,” Coran spoke up, cautious of his tone towards a very unsettled and panicked Lance.

“Lance, I know-,” Allura spoke up, but was interrupted by Lance sitting up and glaring at her.

“No,” Lance hissed. “You don’t know shit, princess! I was the one who found him. He wasn’t okay for days and I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t say anything because of our stupid rivalry and the fact that I act like I can’t stand him all the time. I thought it was just Keith being Keith, but it wasn’t. It was Keith dying right in front of my stubborn, fucking, pathetic eyes,” Lance’s voice continued strong and angry despite his tired appearance.

“I found him in the showers. I thought he was dead. He bled all over me. He bled all over me twice now. I wasn’t even going to come to his room today, but he was being his stubborn ass and not asking for help even when he’s at death’s door and I had to help him. If I hadn’t-he almost died again because I was about to let my feelings and dumb excuses get in the way of checking up on him. So, no. I can’t leave his side right now because I almost saw him die twice right in front of my eyes and I am fucking traumatized and need time to process whatever the fuck just happened!” Lance yelled and the rest of the team was left speechless. Lance sighed and turned back around to plop his head right back where it laid by where he gripped Keith’s hand, but was stopped by wide, violet eyes.

He stilled as he suddenly realized all he had said.

I fuck everything up.

Suddenly, Shiro nodded to the rest of the team that stood idle to the situation and wordlessly led them out of the room to leave Keith and Lance alone. The only one that stayed was Coran to check on Keith’s vitals and make sure everything was truly okay.

Lance hoped he wouldn’t lecture him because he didn’t think he had it in him to yell anymore. He hoped even more that Keith wouldn’t say anything. He had managed to keep his head down to where their hands connected and avoid his gaze for the time being, but he knew sooner or later all that he had yelled out would probably be addressed.

“Everything seems okay,” Coran confirmed as he clicked a few button on the machine that administered the drugs to Keith. He then continued to make Keith slightly sit up by bringing the bed up. It made Lance to have to adjust his stance and let go of Keith’s hand.

“You need to eat something before I give you something else that will help with what just happened. I will monitor your stats and make sure no clots happen, but for the time being, all we can do is wait and rest,” Coran explained. “How are you feeling, lad?”

Usually, Lance would be annoyed at the fact of being ignored completely, but at the moment it is what he wanted the most, so he appreciated Coran paying no mind to his distressed state next to Keith, who fluttered his eyes before giving an answer.

“Gross,” Keith coughed out as he took his hand away from where Lance was holding it and used it to sit up. “I want to take a shower.”

“We can do that,” Coran smiled. “Just wait for the drip to finish, eat, and we will wash you right up. I’ll tell Hunk to bring food.” He almost made his way out after Keith nodded, but was stopped by Keith’s voice.

“Coran,” Keith weakly called out.

“Yes, Number Four?” Coran asked.

“Bring some for Lance as well, please,” Keith said, and Coran nodded as he made his way out.

“You should lay back down,” Lance then found himself saying as he found a comfortable spot to lay in.

“Yeah,” Keith hissed but he didn’t make any effort to move. “There’s a lot of blood,” Keith rasped as he looked on his clothes, the bed, and then to Lance’s clothes. “That was from me?”

Lance nodded as he shifted in the beanbag chair. He could sense that the conversation was going to get uncomfortable. Before Lance could say anything Keith suddenly scooted to where the railings on either side of the bed led to an opening and stepped out, holding onto the railings for dear life.

“Keith,” Lance panicked as he stood up to stop Keith, but even weak and post-near-death-experience he wasn’t being stopped. He manically started pulling at the sheets, drawing them off the bed and throwing them to a pile on the floor.

“Keith, I can do that. Just calm down-,” Lance tried to reason. He was about to reach for Keith’s hand to get him to stop, but he suddenly did so on his own.

“I just want it to be clean,” Keith weakly said as he panted for air. He obviously wasn’t in the state to be throwing things across the room rapidly. Lance worried he would faint.

“I can clean it,” Lance quickly said, and Keith shook his head.

“No, you can’t,” Keith let out.

“What do you mean I can’t? Will you just let me help you, Mullet? It’s really not that big of a deal-,” Lance began as he started taking the pillowcases off Keith’s pillows.

“Because you’ve done enough. You don’t have to stay here. Lance, you-I feel like-you don’t have to be here if you don’t want to, and you don’t have to feel bad if you feel that way. I understand,” Keith spoke as he held on the railing of the bed with white knuckles.

“Mullet, you are making no sense,” Lance said as he continued.

“I won’t be mad if you just leave. I know you don’t like me and that you feel guilty for feeling that way because you think it makes you a bad person, but you don’t have to feel bad for me and be here,” Keith repeated.

Lance didn’t say anything in return, just continued on.

“Lance you can leave,” Keith said as Lane continued to ignore him.

“Lance,” Keith said again.

“You can-,” he attempted again.

“I’m not fucking leaving!” Lance then found himself bursting out as he slammed the pillow he was working on in between them on the bed, rattling the whole thing and making Keith flinch to readjust his grip.

“Sorry,” Lance mumbled as he looked at Keith’s shocked expression.

“But I’m not leaving you. I’m not leaving you ever again, so stop trying to push me away. So, I’m sorry if you ever thought that’s what I wanted. And I’m not here because I have some guilt-trip complex. I’m here because I care about you and I’m your teammate and we’ve lived together for months. And we’ve known each other for years.

And you were there for me like an amazing friend and all I did was ignore the fact you were drifting away because I thought you were just going to come back and everything I was feeling could wait until after the war was over. And god-,” Lance rambled with a sense of desperation he couldn’t even describe. It was like he had been holding in all these thoughts since before Keith left for the Blades, since he went to Keith after feeling like he didn’t belong. Since Keith made him feel like he did belong.

And the more Lance sat in silence from his unfinished sentence, the more a certain feeling he realized he had been pushing away, refusing to give it any resolve, was getting caught in his chest, his throat.

Being around Keith and rambling and ranting to him just made that feeling rise up to the point where it almost felt like he would choke if he didn’t cough out the words.

“I think I love you,” Lance uttered out, a sense of relief rushed through him and his chest stopped contracting and his throat stopped closing in. The realization of what he had just said quickly made panic flood in almost immediately though and suddenly he was right back where he started.

What did you just say? Why did you say that? Do you even mean that? Where did that even come from?

He found his brain running with questions that he didn’t even have answers for.

“Lance, I’m dying,” Keith then responded as he seemed to have absorbed all that had been said. “You can’t love me.”

“Keith-,” Lance spoke but was interrupted by someone walking in on them. It was Hunk with a tray full of food for both of them.

“Do you guys need help?” Hunk asked as he went past Lance to project a table next to the bed where he set the tray down.

“Yeah,” Keith answered for the both of them as he let Hunk help him into a bean bag chair that was dragged to where he was holding himself up. Lance just took all the blood-stained sheets off with Hunk’s help as Keith watched.

“Lance, pass me the extra sheets,” Hunk spoke as he pointed to a panel behind Lance. He pushed at it like he would the opening of a fuel tank and it popped open, revealing a shelf of different spare sheets.

As they continued, Keith avoided eye contact and stayed quiet for the most part as he fiddled with his fingers and the IV. It took everything in Lance to not scold him for doing so, but he tried his best.


 

Hunk left with the dirty sheets after they finished dressing the bed.

“You’re an asshole,” Keith mumbled as he shot Lance a death glare after it was just the both of them in the room.

The words stunned Lance as he processed what just happened.

“What?” Lance asked because he suddenly felt like he missed something.

“You can’t confess to a person that’s digging their grave. You can’t do that, Lance. This isn’t one of your happy rom coms where everything will end happy. You and I both know how this ends,” Keith said, the slightest bit of anger as he practically hissed out the words.

“Keith,” Lance shot back, not really planning much after he spouted out his name.

“What?” Keith responded, crossing his arms and looking away as if he were a fucking five-year-old.

Why are you so infuriating, you asshole, Lance thought as he tried so very hard not to blow up at Keith. He was just as confused, and to be shut down and yelled at was suddenly causing all types of emotions he had repressed from the past few weeks to rise up.

“You can’t use logic and argue with me like that when you know I can’t argue back. Stop being so rational. God, Keith I don’t even know what this means. I’m just as fucking lost as you,” Lance breathed out as he looked up at the ceiling and brought his hands to run down his face in frustration.

“Wow, so just cause I’m about to die, you can’t be honest with me and let out your anger. Well I’m dying regardless of how nice you are to me. So, stop holding anything you might have in. Do you think you get brownie points or some-,” Keith said.

“Stop saying you’re dying!” Lance then yelled out, causing both of them to still. Lance even admitted he shocked himself. He looked past his hands and saw Keith’s eyebrows lose their tension as he looked at Lance with those infuriatingly reflective, violet eyes.

“Okay? Like I get it you’re dying. I get it it’s selfish. I’m so fucking sorry. I won’t do anything you don’t want. We can ignore this happened. But please, stop joking around. Keith, we are going to lose you, and it’s not a joke to us. To me. You can’t just-,” Lance breathed. “You can’t just say that.”

Keith looked to the floor after that and didn’t speak.

“Hey, okay, that was bad. I’m sorry, man,” Lance breathed as he went over to the food Hunk had brought. He move the projected table so it sat between the both of them and started setting the plates down. “You should eat. I’m not leaving you alone, but I can call Shiro to come if you-,” Lance said in a much calmer tone.

“It hurts,” Keith uttered out.

“What hurts? I’ll call Coran on my comm-,” Lance started to get up.

“No,” Keith said as he weakly reached over the bed at a failed attempt to make Lance sit down. Lance stilled regardless and just stood next to the bed.  

“This whole situation hurts, Lance,” Keith let out as he leaned his elbows, on the bed and let his face rest in between his hands. Lance’s attention was drawn to look down at him, bloody shirt, blood matted hair, and all.

“I’ve had such a big crush on you since the Garrison that if you love me and I just let you love me and I let you in and you get attached and then I get attached- I couldn’t live with the fact that it’s going to hurt you so much more when I-,” Keith paused. “When I’m gone.”

“You-you liked me? Ever since the Garrison?” Lance questioned as he processed the words.

“God-nevermind,” Keith said as he started physically retracting back, dragging his hands on his lap and his knees to his chest to rest his head on top of them. In all repressive Keith fashion.

“No, sorry. It’s just-,” Lance tried to fix his words. He took a deep breath before speaking again.

“That’s very considerate of you, but what happens and what I feel isn’t going to change. Do you think that gets you brownie points on something for being considerate?” Lance sarcastically said as he smiled and settled in a bean bag chair across from him.

Keith looked up from the ball he had formed himself in and smiled at his reference to his own words.

“You are an asshole,” Keith said beneath his breath. Lance smiled and lightly laughed as he made the effort to meet Keith’s eyes.

“But Keith,” Lance then spoke, breaking eye contact to look down at the tray between them.

“Yeah?” Keith hummed.

“We can do whatever you want. No matter what, I will miss you like hell. So, don’t feel you have to be distant and cold and hide everything inside to make me have this nice memory of you. You can be whoever you want, you can tell me anything,” Lance said. “I’m here for you. We all are, Keith.”

As Lance awaited an answer, he felt how natural those words came to him. It also hit him how easy it would be to simply talk to Keith, to tell him all the things he truly wanted to and felt.

When he looked up, he was met with Keith’s wide eyes and with his head perked up despite the rest of him still being balled up, arms on knees, and knees to chest.

“Everyone says that,” Keith then spoke. “Everyone says that they want to know all of me,” Keith sighed. “And I feel so dumb,” he paused, and Lance’s heart ached as he heard Keith’s voice break.

“I feel so dumb because all this time I thought everyone hated me. I thought so many things and I thought,” he breathed, trying ot will his teary voice to stabilize. “I thought I wasn’t part of the team. That I was just here because for some reason Red chose me. And then I left. I left my team because I couldn’t lead. I was horrible and terrible, and then I just left. What type of teammate does that make me? You guys knew nothing about me because I was dumb and thought-God, I thought I wasn’t important to anyone,” Keith rambled on, stopping in some places to sniffle and catch his breath as he wiped away some tears.

“And that sounds so emo. But-I just felt so alone when I left. And everyone just let me leave, and-it hurt. It hurt because, and I know it’s messed up and dumb now, but I thought that it was like a test. If I left and you guys drew me back-like the movies or some dumb shit-then that would mean I was actually important and that I mattered,” Keith kept going on.

“And I know that’s dumb and crazy of me, and from Marmora I’ve learned so much and I don’t blame you-god I don’t blame any of you because I-it was my fault that I kept everything inside. I just-,” Keith took a deep breath as it got hard to talk with all his crying. “It hurt,” he said quietly.

“I’m sorry,” Lance simply said as he moved the tray and table to the side, climbing on the bed to get closer to Keith. “Can I?” He asked as he drew his hand out to Keith who was still curled in on himself on the bean bag chair. Keith simply took his hands as he also climbed into the bed, being mindful of his IV.

Lance settled them so they were on the practically barren bed, pillowless and only new, weirdly sanitary smelling sheets on it. He drew Keith in to rest his head on his shoulder and their legs fell into a natural position on their own. Lance tried not to pay too much mind to how frail Keith felt against him compared to the times he had sparred with him before

“I’m sorry that I didn’t notice,” Lance repeated after they got settled. “I noticed you drifting, but in my head,  I just thought that you would always come back. I would see you in video calls and feeds, and I just-I just thought you would come back. And it’s dumb of me. Keith you’re not dumb. We are the idiots here. We should have noticed. You’re not crazy,” Lance said, trying to stay calm.

Fuck, I’m going to start crying. I am about to start pouring tears, oh god…

“And, Keith-just,” Lance paused as he took a breath. “I don’t want to lose you. Not even cause of the feelings, but you’ve always been there despite how horrible we all acted. Keith I just-,” Lance paused again, but his voice cracked regardless. “Just I love you so fucking much and I’m so fucking sorry I’m just telling you now.”

“Keith, I’m so sorry,” Lance’s voice broke before he could do any more damage control and he rested his chin on Keith’s head as he tried to stop himself from crying. Despite all the words and confession from earlier, it just felt nice and right to be hugging Keith, even if it was just one of his arms. Just being with him and supporting him and letting out so much of everything he had been holding back felt good.

He then felt arms harshly wrap around his neck and Keith brought himself on his knees to hug Lance, his words incoherent and his tone teary and nasally. But Lance just smiled and hugged him back, letting his incoherent words and equally nasally voice to join Keith’s.

At that moment, Lance wished he had done and said so many things sooner as he tightened his grip just a little bit more.

Chapter Text

Two Weeks Ago

“Since he was seven years, well back on Earth, this has always been an underlying illness,” Shiro has said.

“I’m assuming the rest of the team doesn’t know,” Allura stated, it wasn’t anywhere near a question. Shiro has just nodded as his hands rested at the foot of Keith’s bed. There were still tubes connecting him to so many different Altean machines.

“Is this common, for humans,” Allura asked.

“What?” Shiro responded with his own question.

“To hide personal parts of their lives. Even from their own teammates,” Allura clarified.

Shiro had sighed, breaking eye contact, but looking someplace away from Allura, but nowhere near his brother.

“Keith has always been like this. Ever since he was little. He never wanted anyone to know anything about him. He thought it would make people grow attached, and since he was always jumping around in homes, he didn’t want that for them…or him,” Shiro explained.

“I see,” Allura sadly replied. “I take it you already know what his choice is going to be then after he wakes up.”

“I know,” Shiro said, and his voice sounded eerily close to tearing up. “I know.”

It wasn’t even three days after that conversation that Keith finally was able to be weaned off all the machines. Allura had to admit that even with her limited interactions with Keith, compared to Shiro, having someone’s life, whom she cared so much about, in her hands was terrifying.

After Keith was off the machines, he was constantly crashing, and it took hours and countless research in old Altean scripts left on the Castle to figure out something that would possibly work. She had rushed to Keith’s room late at night with a potential remedy and slim hopes, but tremendous perseverance.

“You should rest, Princess,” Coran said as Allura entered Keith’s room. It seemed he had been there for at least a couple of doboshes before she made her way in. “I just changed his drip. I sent Shiro off to get some food. He’s still refusing to sleep in his own room,” he said, he sounded so tired and Allura smiled sadly at his report.

“I think I found it, Coran,” she whispered as she held a small device where she had been doing research for almost the whole day.

“Pardon, Princess, it’s been a long day. What have you found?” Coran asked as he yawned and pulled out a similar device to Allura’s to check Keith’s stats, frowning as he saw little improvement.

“A stabilizer,” Allura said, drawing Coran attention to her.

“You found something in the scripts?” Suddenly his voice was filled with a hope that hadn’t been there since they started taking Keith’s machines away.

“Altean remedy. Not conventional for Earthlings, but if I am able to connect with his vital force, I might be able to manipulate the quintessence from his Galran side, and-,” Allura started explaining.

“The risk, Princess, is very-,” Coran warned.

“Coran, but it’s a risk I am willing to take. He’s not getting better, and even without the machines, you know what will happen if we don’t intervene now,” Allura sighed, her voice almost desperate, she didn’t know if it was for Coran’s approval or just some hope that it could work.

“Allura, if this is about the conversation you had with Shiro-,” Coran started saying.

“I just want to give him a chance,” Allura cut him off. “So maybe then he will give himself a chance.”

“Okay, we can explain it to Shiro when he comes back,” Coran agreed, his voice gentle as he tucked the device in his code and went over to Allura to read what she had found.

Allura smiled as she adjusted her nightgown and she started explaining the procedure.


“You want to go into his brain?” Shiro asked. If he was less sleep-deprived, Allura was sure it would come out angrier.

“It’s an Altean procedure that was performed by our best healers,” Coran tried to convince him as he sat at one of the bean bag chairs in Keith’s room. The two Alteans just looked at him cup his face in his hands, the faint buzz of Keith’s stats in the background.

“What are the risks?” Shiro asked, still in his hunched over position. It wasn’t like they would make much eye contact from how dim the lights were in the room. They didn’t want to rile the others, for they weren’t taking this well at all.

Just the previous day, Shiro had gone off at Pidge for hacking into the cameras of Keith’s room. So, at the moment, they had been more cautious about anything regarding Keith’s status. It was what Keith had asked of them, and they were in no position to deny him of his wishes.

“There is a possibility of it not working. There’s also not an exact way of knowing how his human side will react to being probed. But since he is half-Galra, it won’t be ask dangerous. If this works though,” Allura paused. “If it works, it will give him more time.”

Shiro took another deep breath as he contemplated. After he left for Kerberos, he never imagined he would ever have to make any health decisions for Keith. It was bad enough when he first enrolled him at the Garrison, but now, with all they had all gone through, it made the pressure of it all worse.

Keith’s life was literally resting in his hands. He was Keith’s brother, the only one of the paladins that truly knew him. He was the only one that Keith actually let in, and the only one he trusted to make decisions for him.

“What are you going to do?” Shiro asked. “If you were to do it.”

“I would tap into his quintessence. From this, I tap into a vital living force. Since there are lots of records of Galra in our scripts, it won’t be hard to pinpoint and navigate through. I just need to will it awake, give it the energy to give Keith energy,” Allura explained.

“So, you are going to will him to live with magic?” Shiro asked.

“Yes,” Coran answered. “I know it’s not the most reliable thing, especially to Earthlings, but it is what we have right now. We don’t have to do it. We could keep looking, but the longer we wait, the riskier it becomes to do the procedure. If he becomes too unstable, pinpointing the quintessence and the vital force gets rather challenging.”

“And if it goes to plan, how much longer does this give him?” Shiro asked, half of him not wanting the answer.

“We don’t know for sure. But it will be longer than what we predicted,” Coran responded.

Shiro brought his eyes to look at them in the darkness. He then looked in Keith’s general direction and sighed.

“Okay,” Shiro agreed. “Do it.”


 

After Shiro confirmed the procedure, they all agreed to proceed the following day. Coran changed some of Keith’s meds. When he got coherent, or as coherent as he was going to get, Coran tried explaining what was going to happen.

Keith nodded, but he seemed more out of it than anything, so they let him rest. Shiro spent the whole night with him again, making a makeshift bed on the floor. After seeing the connection that Shiro had to Keith, seeing how much he cared about him, it drove her to not only do her best, but put everything she had into making sure it was her best.

She couldn’t mess this up, so she studied more on the procedure, and got enough rest to be fully aware and focused the next day.

When the day cycle started, she got ready, putting her hair up and doing some more research before she made her way from her quarters to the med bay.

She took a deep breath as she stepped in. Keith was already sedated on a bed, a white, smooth, wreath around his head, similar to the mind melds. It would allow her to tap into his energy and help concentrate it to one place she would be able to control.

“Everything should be ready,” Coran said as he saw Allura enter. He was checking Keith’s stats a final time. He then nodded as he finished and turned towards Allura.

“Coran, I-,” Allura then said.

“You can do it. Since we started on the Coalition and all of our missions, your connection to Altean alchemy and practices has grown stronger. And this,” Coran paused. “You can do it.

Allura hummed in response as she got settled. The lights the med bay dimmed as the headpiece Keith wore buzzed quietly with a white light emanating, reflecting on Keith’s pale face.

“Everything looks good,” Coran said. “While you try to access the vital source, what you are seeing will project from the device around you.”

Allura nodded. She was about to begin until someone entered the med bay.

It was Shiro.

“Good morning, Shiro,” Coran greeted. “Are you sure-,” he began to ask.

“He needs me,” Shiro simply answered as he crossed his arms across his chest and stood next to Coran who stood by Keith’s side.

“We are going to begin,” Coran then stated as Allura nodded one last time before hovering her hands on Keith’s headpiece, causing it to glow an Altean blue. She closed her eyes as she started mapping her way in Keith’s brain.


 

“Get out!”

“I’m sorry. I-I didn’t mean to-,” Allura recognized that voice. It sounded much younger though.

“You fucking son of a bitch! Get out!” Allura felt herself flinch at the thundering voice. And even though she knew it wasn’t real, she felt so afraid, and small, and vulnerable.

“Sir-,” she heard the voice again, and suddenly her mind connected the dots. This was a memory. This was Keith’s memory.

“I’m not cleaning you up. Go to Steph, that bitch will clean you up,” the cruel voice thundered yet again.

“Yes, sir,” Keith spoke. He couldn’t have been more than a child. His voice sounded much younger. Although Allura felt angry for Keith’s treatment, the feeling of beign terrified overcame her. It took her a while to remember that this would happen.

Whatever Keith felt in the memory, she would feel it too. She was in his brain, with his emotions. She didn’t get much time to think before she was pushed into another memory and a new scene came before her.

It was pitch black. And if there wasn’t a sudden voice, she would have assumed she had done something wrong.

“Please! Please! I’ll be good. I’m sorry! Please open the door,” it was Keith. His voice was strained and teary. The pounding of small fists on a door echoed through Allura’s ears. Suddenly she felt a tight pressure at her chest and it felt almost too overwhelming.

She heard begging for a few more moments until it just faded into soft crying.

Allura took a deep breath as she tried to calm herself down. The memory itself faded as she kept going. She could sense Keith’s life source was near.

“Can’t you swim, Kogane?” Allura then heard various children’s voices. Their fuzzy faces started becoming clearer as she experienced it through Keith’ eyes.

“What’s it matter to you?” He spoke as he turned away. Allura could feel his shame.

“Think cause your dad was all brave, you are too good for us? Well, spoiler alert, doesn’t matter how brave your dad was, he still left you. Probably cause you are fuck a coward,” they taunted.

“I never said that!” Keith lashed out. “Stop saying that. Just leave me alone.”

“Come on, Keithy,” the continued. Allura the felt panic as Keith’s vision got blurry and hard to follow. Suddenly, she heard water splashing, and she could feel that sense of panic heighten as she felt as if she was drowning.

“Come, on, Keithy. Can’t get up?”  She then realized these kids were drowning him. They were drowning Keith.

The memory faded just like the others, but it left Allura panting for air, causing her to open her eyes and pause. As she looked around to reassure herself that she wasn’t drowning, she was met with two pairs of wide eyes.

“Are you alright, Princess?” Coran asked, but his voice was weak and filled with uncertainty.

“Yes, thank you, Coran. It’s just-,” Allura couldn’t even voice it.

“Are you almost done?” Shiro asked, his eyes were seemed to focus on anywhere besides the projected memories around Allura.

“Yes,” Allura responded as Coran helped her adjust back to position. “Shouldn’t be much longer.”

Shiro hummed, devoid of much emotion, but he wrapped his arms tighter across his chest. Both Alteans could see and sense his unease.

If anything, they were all uneasy, but Allura knew she has to continue and keep her emotions aside. Keith didn’t need her messing up, and everyone else was depending, whether they knew it or not, for her to complete the task at hand.

If I mess this up, I won’t be able to live with myself. His life is in my hands. It’s all on me-

“Princess?” Coran spoke.

“Oh, yes,” Allura snapped out of her thoughts.

“Allura,” Coran then said and Allura looked up to meet his gaze. It was reassuring and eroded away some of her worries.

“I’m ready,” she confirmed as she got situated and placed her hands back on the headpiece and closed her eyes as she delved back into Keith’s mind. After she navigated through the parts she had already been through, she could feel the pull towards where his life source was.

Around it, she started feeling less panic and fear. She had read about it in the Altean scripts, but no amount of words could describe the all-encompassing feeling of someone’s life source.

The closer she got, the happier and more sentimental the memories got. It was as if she was feeling all the reasons why Keith was staying alive. All the reasons and memories he clung onto to find a reason to live. It was all there.

She was bombarded with memories of Voltron. Memories of Shiro, Marmora, his father. Feelings of belonging and family.

She smiled as she got past a whole section just filled with Lance. She and the rest of the team always talked about the two of them, how their bickering was a cover-up for how much pining they actually did after one another. It was sweet and endearing to see what that one of Keith’s reasons for living was Lance. If she was being honest, Allura found all the emotions in that section of Keith’s mind heartwarming. It reminded her of how much she needed to be successful because Keith meant so much to all these people he lived for.

And from experiencing all his feelings towards everyone, Allura knew she had to do everything in her power to give him the chance to express those emotions.

After a while, she felt herself find his vital force, and she felt herself sucked into something that felt like a vision, but it looked different. Brighter. Current. Urgent.

She looked around as she tried to identify where she was after the bright light in the transition faded away. She looked around and all she saw was an arid scene in front of her. Miles of the desert and tall cliffs as far as she could see.

She turned around and was met with a small looking structure. A small shed, handmade and worn by time with its own character. She felt herself propel forward, going past the outside walls and being placed the humble abode.

She looked around and saw piles and piles of food wrappers, trash, and dirty clothes. It looked like a disaster. As she looked at the wall adjacent to her she saw a large cork board structure with all different colored thumb tacks and papers.

The place looked manic. It felt manic and the more she stood looking around the more the panic and anxiety rose. She started wondering if she had entered the right place until she heard a voice. His voice.

“Allura.”

“Keith,” she breathed, and her voice dripped of relief and shock. Even though she knew it wasn’t really his self, at least not his physical self. It was his conscious, his raw being if she had entered at the right place.

“The place is a mess,” Keith spoke and Allura simply nodded as he didn’t know what to say.

“I assume everyone’s mind is a mess,” she then spoke. “There isn’t any shame in that.” Keith hummed at her words as he went to sit down at the couch. His white clothes and clean appearance made him stick out in the mess of clothes and trash around him.

“Why are you here? How did you get here?” Keith asked a sudden tinge of anger in his voice. If Allura wasn’t paying attention to anything but him, she probably wouldn’t have noticed it.

“I’m here for you,” Allura said, suddenly explaining to Keith that she was here to save him, after he looked at her with annoyance, became exponentially harder. “We tried everything, and this was our final solution.”

“To get in my head and force me awake?” Keith asked as he let his back lean back on the couch. He crossed his arms over his chest as he looked straight at Allura.

“Yes. We are doing everything we can,” she hesitantly said.

“It’s not going to work. I can feel everything not working,” Keith mumbled. “You should just let me go.”

Allura stilled and then she took a deep breath.

“Shiro said you would say that, Keith. We aren’t letting you do that,” Allura said.

“Do what? It’s just what’s happening. If you need to perform some magical ritual to revive me, isn’t that a sign from the universe or something?” Keith burst out as he uncrossed his arms and leaned forward, placing his hands on his knees as he spoke.

“A sign? Keith,” she paused. “Do you want us to let you go?” Keith just looked down at the floor and anywhere but at Allura.  

“Keith,” Allura said.

“What?” Keith responded defensively.

“The way this works is I enter your life force and convince your conscious to step out into the outer working of your mind. To be a catalyst to revive the rest of your body,” Allura explained.

Keith still didn’t speak.

“Shiro said you would do this,” Allura spoke as she sat on the diagonal from where Keith sat.

“You already said that,” his voice was filled with irritation.

“On my way here, I saw your memories,” she confessed.

“You what?” Keith’s brows furrowed.

“The home, the Garrison, Shiro being gone, and all the reasons why you want to live Keith,” Allura continued.

“You saw-,” Keith stilled and before he could finish Allura nodded.

“Keith, you have so many reasons to live, so many people to live for. I saw them. I felt your feelings. I know you care about them. I know you don’t want to leave anyone. Shiro explained that-,” Allura explained.

“You don’t know me, Princess. Just because you wandered around in my head, you don’t know me. For the longest time, you hated me. So sorry if it’s hard for me to listen to anything you are saying,” Keith responded.

“I don’t, Keith. Not in the ways other people do, but I know how they feel about you. I know how you feel about them. You don’t want to leave them, you love each one of the people-,” Allura tried again.

“I don’t feel anything!” Keith burst out as he stood up abruptly. “I don’t want to feel anything. Even if I go back, you already know what is going to happen. I don’t have long regardless if you suck me out of my own head. So, why do I have to go back?” he continued, this time raising his voice progressively as the words came out. “Because people care about me? Because somehow, I matter to them? I have to go and experience their love, only to die and leave them again?”

“How am I supposed to do that?” Keith said, scoffing and sighing in frustration.

“I can’t make you come with me, Keith,” Allura spoke. “And I know I don’t know you, not like the others might, not like Shiro does. But everyone wants you to be back, even if the we know the outlook. We might even be able to-.”

“No,” Keith cut her off. “That’s what all the fucking doctors said, and it never worked. If your stupid alien medicine didn’t work, then don’t give that bullshit that something might work. I don’t want to wake up and be a vegetable and die trying to do the impossible,” he continued. “I don’t want to keep trying.”

The words clung onto the air around them, and it felt as if they made it thicker.

“Keith,” Allura said after it almost become suffocating. She could feel all of Keith’s emotions so strongly before but being with him, sitting so close to his conscious, everything amplified.

“If I go back, I don’t want to try,” Keith repeated. “If I don’t respond to mild treatment then I don’t want any harsh treatment. I won’t put everyone through seeing me like that. If I’m going to,” he paused. “If I am going to die, then I want to live it without being hooked up to everything.”

Allura took a moment to formulate her thoughts.

“We can look for more solutions, there are still many other options-,” she tried.

“You saw my memories, right?” Keith then asked as he talked from where he stood across from her. Allura nodded, knowing fully where this was going.

“All I did was spent years in a hospital bed. I know what that feels like. I know what the other side feels like as well. I can’t put Shiro through that again, or anyone. I know it sounds suicidal to you, and like I don’t value myself. And it might sound like I’m giving up, and that I don’t really care-,” Keith paused.

“I had a point, but now it just sounds bad,” he concluded after a few ticks. It caused them both to laugh lightly before the tension came back.

“I just want to not live without feeling like I’m dying,” Keith summarized.

“There will be many precautions. You will have to have your own room, no more missions, lots of rest-,” Allura began, but Keith just nodded at her after she listed out those few things.

“I don’t want them to know,” Keith then said, and Allura tilted her head in question.

“I don’t want them to know that there might have been a chance, and I didn’t take it,” he expanded.

“Shiro and Coran will know. They have your files and are able to see everything,” Allura said and Keith’s face dropped a little.

“I don’t want anyone else to know,” Keith said. “Not Marmora, not, Pidge, not Hunk, not Lance,” Allura noticed how his voice strained on that last name.

“Okay,” she agreed and smiled as Keith inhaled and looked around the messy shed.

“Why are we in this place? Out of everything why is this where my conscious decided to go?” Keith then asked as he kept staring around the room. Allura could feel the panic through the connection, and she felt her own heart beat faster.

“I don’t know exactly. The Altean scripts regarding this procedure say something about the most emotional place for someone. The place where one has multiple memories and emotions attributed to someone’s life. Does that fit into place?” Allura offered.

“My dad and I used to live here,” Keith said, and Allura’s face dropped as she felt his sadness. “My mom left me here. I was alone here after Shiro left. And Voltron was formed here,” he continued, and Allura felt a ping of happiness in her chest at the last comment.

“It’s so messy,” Keith sighed as he went to the corkboard that had various pictures of Keith as a kid and people that Allura recognized as the paladins. There were also some unfamiliar faces.

“This changed. All these pictures, I didn’t even take them,” he said as he dragged his fingers across some of them. He pulled one off of Shiro.

“The scripts said, this place is filled with memories that have had the most impact on you, whether bad or good. This is where all your vital forces reside,” Allura explained as Keith hummed and looked intently at the picture, as it trying to remember where it was from. Allura could feel when it finally clicked.

“This is when he left for Kerberos.”

He pulled another one of a kid. His hair was brown and his skin pale like Keith’s from what Allura could spot.

“He made my life hell,” Keith scoffed as he dropped the picture.

He grabbed one of a man next. “This is my dad,” Keith said. “Was.” He frowns as he pins the picture back and picks at a final one.

Allura can’t see it clearly, but she can feel the joy that Keith feels as he looks at it.

“This is the day we found Blue,” Keith said. Allura smiles as she comes closer to stand in front of him as he lets her take the picture. She analyzes all the young faces sitting in the very room they were in. In the picture it’s not as messy, and the pictures of people are replaced with charts and clues about Voltron.

Allura looks up to meet Keith’s gaze and sees his eyes tearing up and his nose turning red. He notices her staring and he sniffles and gets his hair out of his face as a horrible attempt to wipe at his eyes.

“They truly love you so much, Keith,” Allura says as she pins the picture back. “Coran and I as well. You are our family, regardless of blood or species.”

“It’s just,” Keith said. “This is going to sound so dumb and immature.”

“But I came back because Voltron was the first place, I felt like I belonged. Even if no one really talked to me except Shiro. Everyone tolerated me, we all worked so well together. And even though I was a terrible leader and I left, I-,” Keith paused.

“I wanted to belong so bad,” his voice broke. “And god, I don’t want to die, Allura. But I can feel it. I can feel my body giving up. And I tried. I did, but I’m tired of trying. I know what’s going to happen, and I can’t stop it.”

“But I-,” he had to pause to catch his breath. “I’m so fucking scared. I don’t want to-I don’t want to die.”

Allura felt her heartbreaking, not only cause of the connection but because it was heartbreaking. It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear Keith admit that he was scared, that he was terrified.

And to come to the fact that there was little she could do to calm his worries. So, she just wrapped him in for a hug and patted his back and head as Keith buried himself into her shoulder and sobbed.

Allura kept herself from crying, even though she could feel everything he was feeling.