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Do You Remember Love?

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Casting Call: "Voltron Legendary Defender"
Company: Lions' Gate Productions
Bii Boh-Bii, director; Bi-Boh Bii, casting director

Production Description: Eighth season and made for tv movie finale event for the award-winning Voltron Legendary Defender television series, to coincide with the tenth anniversary of Princess Allura's sacrifice for the safety of the universe. For the first time ever, the true story of what happened in the Void will be broadcast, based on exclusive interviews with the real-life Paladins of Voltron and newly declassified pages from the sealed Galaxy Garrison records.

Roles: Galaxy Garrison soldiers, unnamed members of the Blade of Marmora. All races, all genders, ages from young adult to middle age. Stunt experience a plus.
Civilians on Earth, Clear Day festival participants, members of the former Galra empire. All races, all genders, all ages.
Altean refugees. Alteans only, all genders, all ages.

Category: Films, TV
Compensation: 25-50 GAC per 10 vargas depending on complexity of part.
Required media: headshot photo
Roles will be credited. Union position, SAG membership required. Non-Disclosure Agreement required. Production will primarily include studio and location shoots on Planet Catullus in Novi Antheli. Travel expenses outside of Novi Antheli will be provided by Lions' Gate Productions.

     Shiro sat with his back to a wall in the loud but not too crowded coffeehouse, trying not to twiddle his thumbs, scanning the customers for the man they were meeting. Coran may have promised that this plan would be foolproof, and there was no denying that none of them had been able to come up with a better idea, but Shiro was still more than a little nervous about whether this asinine plan actually had a hope in hell of working. He and Iverson, and a lot more people besides, had struggled in vain to come up with another idea that would make his value to the tabloids drop low enough to let him move off-planet undetected, but it'd been for nothing. Every focus group test had come back saying, "Nope, the cameras will still love you."

     Every plan, that is, except the one they were here to try. That was assuming they could find anyone Shiro could talk into this in the first place, which would be a struggle, but having Keith beside him made it feel a little easier. His partner clasped his hand and trapped Shiro's flesh-and-bone arm under his own, and immediately the table stopped shaking.

     "It's gonna be fine," Keith said, with that tone that always conveyed a sense that, if anything wasn't fine, Keith would stab it until morale improved. One of the little things about Keith that always made Shiro smile.

     "Thanks."

     "No sweat. So, is that the guy?"

     A tall, caucasian man with blond hair cut in what Shiro could only describe as a reverse mullet was strutting across the room, looking around like a lost dog with black coffee in hand, because Roy Focker couldn't walk without strutting even when he had no idea where he was going. "Yeah, that's him." Shiro yelled at his former squad mate, "Hey, Dwight! You forget what I look like?"

     The man flashed a toothpaste-commercial smile and jogged the rest of the way. "I don't know, Rogaine! Maybe you shouldn't change so much! You look like a geezer with that white hair!"

     Keith squinted, looking from the blond back to Shiro. "Dwight? I thought you said his name was Roy."

     "Yeah, he prefers to be called that." Shiro laughed. Keith always made the cutest confused expressions when facts didn't line up, lips pursed and nose wrinkled. "But all of us who were on Vermilion Team when we were cadets got to witness the marshal calling his full name at 0500 every morning after he stayed out late doing something stupid, which was a lot of mornings -- Dwight Leroy Focker."

     Roy shrugged. "Perils of being a Georgia boy. And you and Batman never let me live it down, did you, Rogaine?"

     After almost a decade, Shiro didn't flinch at hearing Adam's old squad nickname, which Adam had hated, like they'd all hated their nicknames at first, but what was he supposed to do when his last name had been West? Shiro liked to think that if Adam was looking down at this mess he was in now, it would make him laugh. He'd liked a bad joke as much as anyone.

     And he didn't have to worry about whether Adam would've approved of Keith. He would have.

     Roy set down his coffee and dragged Shiro up into a hug without missing a beat. "How you been, you son of a bitch?!" After the usual shoulder punches, he turned his eyes to Keith. Shiro couldn't help feeling a little caveman pride at the way Roy's jaw dropped. "And holy shit, I saw the pictures, but damn! Is that really Keith?! You were so skinny back at the Garrison, I thought for sure the jets would blow you away. Now look at you! Are you sure you want to waste your golden years on a crusty, old, white-haired admiral like Shirogane here?"

     "Dwight..." Shiro sighed. The white hair jokes were never going to end, he knew, which was hypocritical given that the particularly brilliant blond his friend was sporting into middle age had to be getting some help out of a bottle by now. "I'm 35, and Keith is 31. It's hardly a May-December romance."

     "And you can't tell me there's a better catch than Shiro anywhere in the universe," Keith shot back, 100% serious and making another warm glow of pride swell in Shiro's chest. He'd gotten lucky, reconnecting with Keith as a Paladin, and he's never taken that for granted.

     "Of course there's a better catch!" the blond said, pointing both thumbs at himself. "You're lookin' at him!"

     "Claudia might have something to say about that," Shiro scoffed. Maybe he hadn't seen them in person in years, but Roy updated his social media on a daily basis. His on-again, off-again girlfriend since their first posting had long since become his wife in everything but name.

     Roy shrugged. "I bet I could sell her on a man like Keith as a third." He held out a hand to stop a very confused Keith from objecting. "Don't say no until you've tried Claudia's pineapple salad. It's to die for."

     "Dwight," Shiro groaned. He really needed his friend to not piss off his boyfriend right now, and sharing was something Shiro knew had never been Keith's strong point. Probably even Roy could tell that, but this was not the time. Keith's only stipulation when agreeing to this whole operation was, "But no sharing."

     Luckily, all Keith said was, "I don't even like pineapple," and the whole table sat back down, chuckling.

     Well, Roy and Shiro chuckled, and Keith said, "Oh! It's a joke," and rolled his eyes, followed by everyone taking a sip of their coffee.

     Arching his hands like an overdramatic interrogator, Roy started in on the usual questions. "So, 35 and 31? You're saying all that time dilation bullshit from that hyped up TV show about you isn't... whatchamacallit... artistic license?"

     "No," Keith answered. "Riding a space whale through a gravity well with my mom for two years was very real, just with less tug of war against neutron stars. We're not idiots."

     "And did your undead soul really get transplanted into your evil clone?" the man asked, pointing at Shiro.

     "Yes and no," Shiro said with a shrug. "The network wanted to go with something more believable than the real way my body got reconstructed, and if they didn't get their Shiro actor back on screen fast, they risked him getting another job and not being available when I came back to life. But if you want to be technical, yes, this body is basically a clone, and yes, its accelerated generation was caused by a brainwashed impostor Shiro--"

     "Call him Jiro," Keith cut in. "Less confusing."

     Roy signaled for them both to stop. "If it's more complicated than what happened in the fictional version, I will never understand."

     Keith turned to him with a puzzled look. "Is it more complicated, Shiro? Or just more... random? With, you know, your atoms getting decoupled from your quintessence but then your soul suddenly--"

     Trying to fight the smile off his face at the sight of Keith trying to explain Altean science-magic was even harder than not drowning in Keith's over-serious expression. "Everybody but you, Pidge, and Hunk thinks it's more complicated, baby. Let's not go there." Shiro laughed at the wide-eyed thumbs up Roy shot him and asked, "So clearly you know where we've been. How's life treating you?"

     "Nothing that crazy," Roy answered. "I was on the Mars base when the Galra attack happened. They sailed right by us, and after the first wave attack on Earth went down in flames, Garrison Headquarters ordered all off-planet installations to maintain radio silence. I wish we'd been able to do more."

     Shiro shook his head. "Staying alive and staying free was the best thing you could do for Earth, trust me."

     "Yeah, we saw the broadcasts. Anyway, I'm back now, helping train the new cadets. Hikaru, that kid I took in... he stayed on Mars. Apparently, both of our protégés fell for their commanding officers," said Roy, punching Keith in the elbow.

     "Ow."

     "We didn't start sleeping together until after Keith was the Black Paladin," Shiro pointed out. "I wasn't in charge anymore."

     "And I'd been in love with him since I was sixteen," Keith added. "Way before--"

     Shiro shook his head. "Not helping, baby."

     "So, your cradle-robbing aside--"

     "Not cradle-robbing. Besides, you just hit on Keith, and you're older than me now, because of all that time dilation nonsense."

     "Whatever, cradle-robber. You're the one with white hair. And you'll never guess who's on the training squad with me! Max and Miria, from Hikaru's cadet team? Fucking amazing pilots, both of them. Ran covert supply missions from the Europa base during the occupation, kept most of the deep space installations from starving to death when Earth couldn't send them supplies. They got in on the second generation of MFE fighters, and now they're training the next crop. Kids like them make you proud to be a pilot, I'll tell you! Make me feel old, too. They got hitched right out of the academy, pumped out two kids already with a third on the way. Me and Claudia don't even know if we want to make it legal, let alone start making babies!"

     Shiro nodded slowly, pushing his coffee mug around on the table so the liquid spun. "Mm-hmm," he grunted. "Marriage..."

     Keith muttered into his own coffee, barely loud enough to hear, "Mawwage is wot bwings us togevvah today..."

     And Shiro couldn't help laughing, even with all the weirdness of what he was going to have to do. He could always count on Keith for that. Still, the table fell into awkward silence when Shiro couldn't look up to meet Roy's eye.

     The blond man frowned. "Why do I get the feeling you didn't call me out just to catch up, Rogaine?"

     If he was actually going to do this, and at this point it was the best plan anyone had, he might as well get to the point. "Roy," he said, setting jokes aside so hopefully his friend would know everything he was about to say was completely in earnest. "I need a fake husband."

     Roy tapped his spoon on his coffee mug, turning a questioning squint on Shiro and Keith. "Isn't that the kind of bullshit you have Matt Holt for?"

     "Matt can't do this one," Shiro said, shaking his head. "His poly thing with those three aliens--

     "Five aliens," Keith corrected.

     "--five aliens and the robot gets too much coverage in the tabloids. Fake marrying him won't hold up to a background check."

     "So, you're talking serious fake marriage, not, like, fake wedding photos to keep in your wallet for a gag or some shit. Just... not a real husband, or I assume you'd be marrying Keith."

     "The details are classified," Keith cut in, but Roy brushed it off.

     "Relax, kiddo. I've been with the Garrison long enough to know a classified operation when I don't get to hear about it. I won't ask why." He pushed his coffee away, all business. "So, what kind of scope are you looking for here, Shirogane? Just filing papers for legal reasons? Arm candy for public appearances, political First Gentleman kind of nonsense? Draw me a picture."

     Around the cafe, though, Shiro could start to hear the whisper of someone asking, "Are those the Paladins?" followed by someone else answering, "That's Keith and Admiral Shirogane, right? Should we ask for their autographs?" After that, there were too many whispers to make out individual words. The paparazzi wouldn't be far behind. Their private time was up.

     "Why don't we go somewhere a little less public, and I'll fill you in."

~//~

     Keith wasn't clear on why so much paper was necessary to understand, "I need a fake husband," but Shiro and Roy had the guts of at least three notepads strewn across the coffee table by the time they opened their second beers, with lists -- multiple versions of multiple lists -- all over the place. Qualities for an ideal fake husband, anticipated duties, media spin. It was all way too much to pay attention to. Keith planned to save his nitpicking for when they had an actual, actionable plan.

     "So this sounds to me like you need a Happily Ever After," Roy mused, scratching his head. "That straight-up Disney shit."

     Shiro nodded. "Exactly. Preferably boring enough that nobody has anything to say about it and the media loses interest in me. Which is why it really can't be Keith. He is, officially, too interesting to not make the news." That had been determined in one long meeting, where he had learned more than he'd ever wanted to know about media verticals, and how many times Veronica could use the term buzzword before Iverson started throwing coffee mugs.

     "Man, boring is not something I'd believe was your style, Shirogane."

     "It isn't his style," Keith reminded him. "This is all fake."

     Very, very fake. Keith had promised Shiro multiple times that he knew, and was fine with, fake before Shiro had agreed. He was utterly indifferent to what anybody else thought of their relationship, as long as he had Shiro for real. Honestly, it was going to be kind of funny to watch.

     "But I'm talking about believability! Something people won't question is the truth!" Roy gestured so wide, his beer sloshed onto the papers and made some of the ink run.

     "Luckily, most people haven't actually met me," said Shiro.

     "Also, most people are idiots," Keith added.

     Shaking his head sadly, Roy sighed. "I wish that were not the case, but it's probably actually going to make this work. Okay. So, I'm assuming you're not going to stop fucking Keith while this is all happening?"

     Keith just shook his head and drank his beer. Shiro gave the real answer.

     "Well, you know. The idea is that people won't be watching us to know that we're still... dating."

     "Fucking," Keith clarified. "Dating implies going out in public, which we will not be doing. But we will definitely still be fucking." No way would he have approved a plan where the fucking stopped, unless they were under way more extreme duress.

     "Right. They wouldn't be watching you, because they'd hit a wall with me, the fake husband. Which means I'd have to be 'faithful' the whole time, or risk causing drama." Roy squinted across the table, cold and calculating. "Exactly how long is this op gonna take?"

     Shiro cleared his throat, making Roy's glare more serious by the second. "Hopefully no more than five years?" Shiro offered with a forced smile.

     "Five years?!"

     "Possibly ten or so, if timelines get slowed down, but we're hoping it doesn't come to that."

     This time, when Roy shook his head, it was a clear no. "Anything mine is yours, Shirogane. You know that. All things being equal, I would be your fake husband in a snap. Sounds like a gas, kissing you on TV in front of God, Keith, and everybody. But if I actually married someone else, in the can't-date-or-fuck-her-for-five-to-ten-years way, even if it was fake, Claudia would have my balls. She scares me more than any Galra war hero, including you."

     Nodding, Shiro said, "That's fair. But I also don't have a lot of contacts outside the brass right now, and I figured if anybody would know a guy I could count on for an all-in fake wedding, it's Roy Focker. So... can you help?"

     After pondering for a few seconds, Roy pulled out his phone and thumbed few a few screens. "Right. Okay. Who do I know who's both enough of an asshole to lie to the world for a decade, can keep a secret, and is also a goddamn saint?"

     "And gay," Shiro added. "Or bi."

     "The subtext was implied, Rogaine."

     "And hot," Keith dropped in for good measure.

     "Keith," said Shiro in his after school special, public service announcement voice, which Keith hated to admit was still sexy somehow. "We can't judge people by their external appearances. It doesn't matter what a man looks like."

     "That's not what you said last night," Keith reminded him. And from the bright red painting Shiro's cheeks, Keith would say he remembered.

     Across the table, Roy let out a hoot. "Nice! Man, I can't remember the last time I saw somebody make Shirogane blush like that! What'd he say last night, Keith?"

     The red flush spread up through Shiro's forehead. "Keith..."

     But wasn't staking a claim in front of their fake matchmaker his privilege and his duty? This Roy had to know how things stood with where Shiro's interests lay, or he might make a mistake. "Well, there was a lot. Like, the part about my mouth looking so pretty in the staff meeting yesterday, he couldn't stop thinking about it on his dick, or you know, he's got this thing for my ass, obviously--"

     "He's always been an ass man," Roy said, nodding. "Cursed with a dick too big for most people to take, but boy did he show me there was more than one way to love an ass."

     "The best things in life are worth some effort."

     "Haha! Got yourself a keeper, Shirogane!"

     "Keith, you're not going to... ah..." Shiro was starting to sweat. Good. Tonight was his turn.

     Leaning in for a kiss, Keith murmured, "Of course not. That part's private." Like he was going to tell anyone about how much Shiro murmured against his skin that he was beautiful while licking his scars when he had Keith's wrists tied up over his head. He wanted that all for himself.

     Shiro stammered, "S-so let's just agree," over Roy Focker's applause, "my fake husband doesn't have to meet any visual criteria, because I'm not actually going to have sex with him."

     "Wrong," Keith shot back. "If he's hot, everyone will think they know why you married him. It'll make it a million times easier for people to ignore than if he's just some dude."

     "Gonna go with your boy on this one," said Roy, paging through his phone again. "Gotta be hot, or no dice. Okay... married, married, fugly, dating, goodie-two-shoes, married, fugly and married, single but an asshole... Oh, and by the way, I will be your fake best man if I can't be your fake husband. I am gonna throw you the best fake bachelor party the world has ever seen." He started to punctuate screen flips on his phone with party ideas. "Booze. Planes. Hot jazz. Strippers. Dude strippers, obviously." The man looked up, phone forgotten. "I'm thinking, naked guy dances his way out of an eight-decker cake dressed like Tarzan, and we all eat lemon cream off his pecs, you know? Something classy!"

     As long as the planes didn't come after the booze, Keith wasn't going to say anything.

     Shiro pushed the phone back in front of his friend. "Why don't we make sure there's a groom before we plan the bachelor party."

     "But so we're clear, I--"

     "You will be the fake best man, Roy."

     "Awesome. Because I may have your unicorn here, my friend. I can't believe I didn't think of Claudia's brother right away!"

     "Edgar?" Shiro asked, disbelief even clearer in his voice than in his squint. "Straight Edgar? Married with ten kids Edgar?"

     "God bless his wife," Roy said. "If humanity rebuilds, it's because that woman is working. But no, not Edgar. Claudia's younger brother, Curtis."

     Eyes wide, Shiro gasped, "Not...?"

     "One and the same. Curtis, who was an Atlas bridge bunny until six years ago. He was on your crew! Prior life connection for extra verisimilitude! He even used to have a crush on you, Shirogane. It's perfect."

     Keith held out his hand. "Picture." And the photo on the profile page was honestly decent-looking, so he gave a nod of approval. Good nose, clear eyes, able to smile without looking like a jackass, knew how to dress and style his hair. A guy could do a lot worse. "Looks fine to me."

     He held out the photo to Shiro, but he didn't even want to take a look. "I don't think it's fair for me to ask someone who used to have a crush on me to do this sort of thing. And yes, Roy, we fooled around as cadets, but that's different. No offense."

     "None taken. I am a very proud town bicycle."

     "Shiro," Keith sighed. "If you limit this to gay or bi guys who never had a crush on you, you will literally eliminate the entire human race."

     "That's not true!" Shiro tried to object.

     Keith wasn't having any of that. "As someone who remembers the entire Galaxy Garrison cadet barracks fantasizing about you, I am required to inform you that you're wrong. The reason the publicity office was always out of posters with you on them is because they were taped to a hell of a lot of ceilings over a hell of a lot of beds."

     "Gonna give this one to your boy, too, Shirogane," Roy said with a nod. "He seems to be right a lot. I guess we know who's the brains and who's the beauty in this house."

     Shiro clapped his hands over his face. "I am very uncomfortable with this."

     Roy pulled down Shiro's hands to look him straight in the eye. "Relax. The reason Curtis is perfect is that he gave up dating, like, two years ago. He broke up with the guy he was seeing, and when I asked him why, he said relationships were too much trouble, and he'd realized he'd rather be at home with his fish, and he has actually been happier that way. I will never understand, but to each his own. Also, he's over you. Seeing how you're married to your job is actually a turn-off for most people, although apparently not Keith. Congratulations."

     "I find Shiro's dedication arousing," Keith deadpanned, earning a soft smack on the knee from his boyfriend.

     "He's got an Alpha Level security clearance," Roy added in a teasing sing-song. "You won't need to do a background check to make sure he's not a blackmail risk. That's a good year off your timeline..."

     Not that they had a year to spare on background checks, Keith didn't mention. Roy didn't need to know that much.

     With a sigh, Shiro relented. "Okay. Okay, let's set up a meeting and see if he'll do it."