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don't wanna walk alone (or run away)

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Shiro came from humble roots.

He was born in one of the uncrowded, less eventful sectors of Daibazaal, raised by his grandparents after the accident that took away his parents. For as long as he can remember, he had always wanted to see more of Daibazaal, of the universe. He wanted to be a pilot. He also grew up with a strong sense of justice. It was no surprise that as soon as he learned about the Blade of Marmora, he just knew he wanted to be one of them.

It was considered ambitious for a simple Galran citizen like him, but his grandparents were supportive, and he hadn’t been afraid to put in all the hard work needed to get in.

The Blade of Marmora had always been known for impartiality and fairness. Shiro had the skills, the attitude, and he passed the training and then the trials. He got in. He was a Blade.

His grandparents were very proud of him, and Shiro had been very happy with what he had achieved. Even so, he knows better than to expect his whole life or social status to change. The Blade of Marmora may be an elite organization, but Shiro did not sign up to climb social ranks or anything. He just wanted to fly, to fight for a cause, and to earn enough units to give his grandparents a comfortable retirement.

So it stands that as a new Blade, Shiro had thought the most prestigious event he’d ever be part of would be the welcoming ceremony for his batch of recruits. Kolivan, a Galra he had always looked up to, congratulated them in a short speech, even handed each of them their own, personal blades. As he took mission after mission, Shiro had gotten the Leader’s acknowledgement for his good performance, and that was such a high enough honor he didn’t even think to expect more.

Enter Keith, who Shiro had been introduced to as the Blade’s youngest Commander, and his new CO. It surprised Shiro, how young and atypical he is, for both a Blade and a Galra.

He got curious then. The Blades never really publicized their achievements outside of humanitarian projects, but it was easy to search the mission logs and archives that he had clearance for.

If he had been impressed before, after searching, he was simply blown away. He wondered how someone like Keith could have pulled off so many risky missions, with such a high success rate. Some of them were even things Shiro had heard of in the news, but never knew was the Blade’s work.

But Keith never bragged. He was simply Keith , and Shiro did his best to keep up with his new commanding officer’s pace.

Keith’s pace had been fast and dangerous, filled with sharp turns and calculated risks - and it got the adrenaline pumping in Shiro’s veins. He’d always had to hold back the playful, reckless side of him, but with Keith, it always came out. Shiro had never been comfortable co-piloting until Keith assigned him to be his right hand, daring him to do tricks he knew he could pull off but had never risked attempting. He’d always held back during sparring because of his size, but against Keith, he usually had to go all out.

“You’re a good fit for each other. Keep him in check, yes?” Kolivan had told them, once. To this day, Shiro doesn’t know between the two of them, who their Leader had meant to address, and who he had meant to refer to.

When he became friends with Keith - and he meant friends , because they had taken to spending time outside missions and briefings - he discovered that Keith is the son of Krolia, Daibazaal’s most famous diplomat and one of the Coalition’s best. In that case, Keith might as well be Kolivan’s son too, as his relationship with Krolia was public knowledge. He had known Keith was of royal blood (someone had mentioned it before, he had forgotten who) but he didn't know he was that royal. Keith talked about Emperor Lotor like some sort of annoying cousin - which he is, Keith said, when Shiro dared to comment.

That settled it, then. Keith is the most famous person Shiro knew, personally.

When Shiro told Keith, his friend only laughed and said, “Yeah, I guess I’m kind of a celebrity? I don’t feel like it, though. Never have.”

“I am friends with a celebrity...” Shiro repeated in wonder.

“Don’t treat me any different.” Keith warned, in that wry way of his that Shiro had learned to read as playfulness. “My friends never do.”

“O-Of course! My grandmother would want a photo, though. Or a signature. She loves the royal family. She has a poster of the Empress Honerva in our house.”

Keith had laughed again, and it was such a beautiful sound, Shiro could only stop and stare until Keith nudges him so they can go back to watching an Earth movie about an exiled alien creature who crash-lands on Earth and disguises himself as a pet for a little human girl.

Shiro didn’t treat Keith differently, except with growing fondness and admiration as he got to know the other better and they got closer, and none of those were due to Keith’s social status or titles.

As much as Shiro loved flying, he had always known to stay grounded. Knowing one famous person doesn’t change his simple outlook, his drive to work hard and lead a modest life.

Except within the same deca-phoeb, he’s donning the formal Blade uniform, Kolivan himself handing him a new, thicker, visibly more expensive cape to replace his old standard-issue one because “You must look your best today, recruit. We are meeting royals.”

Then he’s introduced to Krolia, who welcomed him with a warm smile and thanked him for his time , as if he’s the distinguished diplomat heading a trip to establish a brand new Coalition alliance, and not the lower-ranking Blade who just happened to get a free ticket from a friend.

Then he had Keith on his arm. Keith, his Commander and friend. Keith, who had been adorned with shiny stones, hair done up, looking perfect and ethereal in his traditional royal Galran robes of rich black, gold and red - a sight Shiro burns into his memories. He had this beautiful Galra-Human wonder in his arm and the two of them were smiling and laughing cordially with high-ranking officials and three Queens.

Then he’s being showered with flowers and being climbed like a playground attraction by said Queens’ twelve children and then...

Then he’s married to Keith. Legally. Recognized by around a hundred or so different planets and star systems.

Which also made him, technically, official Galra royalty.

By accident.

So much for a modest life.

.

.

 

Grandmother,

I may have accidentally married into Galra royalty.

 

Okay, no. There’s no way he could just drop that ball.

Maybe next message.

Chapter Text

Young, aspiring Blade-to-be Shiro would never have thought he’d one day be setting foot in the Coalition’s Official Embassy building in Daibazaal.

Well, not as a guest , at least. Maybe for a mission or something, as part of a high-profile official’s security detail.

But today, he is not security. He is a guest.

He is sitting on the softest plush couch he’d ever sat on. It’s a struggle to sit straight. Beside him, Keith doesn’t even try. Keith is lounging against the equally soft pillows, munching on one of the treats he called ‘cupcakes’ that he took from the table before them.

“Shiro.” Keith says, when he catches Shiro watching him.

Shiro didn’t mean to stare, he was simply curious at how one ate these cupcakes, because Keith had been taking his time picking on the tiny colorful blobs on top of it first, nibbling on them before they were all gone and he finally took a bite from the ‘cake’ part.

“Relax. We’re here to have tea.”

‘Tea’ is how Keith says it now, but Shiro could swear he used a different word before. It’s just the same, Keith had claimed. ‘Leaves, hot water, other stuff. Alteans have the craziest names for things.’

“Deepest apologies for the wait! This is quite a complicated brew, but well worth it, I assure you!”

Shiro looks up and sits straight as their companion strides towards them, carrying a very fancy-looking tray brimming with treats and various drinks, plates and cups. The tray is laid in the table, and their gracious hostess sends Shiro a winning smile.

“Shiro, how do you like your drink? This one's got a bitter taste to it, but we have syrup to sweeten the flavor…”

Young Shiro would never have imagined that one day he will be served tea by the famous Princess Allura of Altea, darling of the Coalition and probably the entire known universe.

Yet here he is.

“Lots of syrup for me.” Keith chimes in, finally uncurling from the pillows. He casually licks the cupcake crumbs from his fingers as he nudges Shiro. “Maybe you could try it with a little syrup first, then see if you wanna add more later.”

Shiro nods to him, and then to the Princess. “Yes, I'd like that, thank you, uh, Your Highness.”

“Excellent!” Allura says, beaming again. “And none of the formalities when it's just us. Call me Allura!”

Shiro nods again, watching with interest as Allura makes their tea, just as her guests would like it. It looked more like concocting a potion, if he were to be honest.

Meanwhile, Keith happily picks through the Altean treats in the tray and pops them into his mouth. He sighs as he chews one, then picks another of the same and raises it up to Shiro.

“Shiro, you gotta try this one.”

Shiro blinks down at him. Keith is holding the little biscuit up, to Shiro’s face.

He’s not handing it to him. Is he… Is he trying to feed Shiro?

That-... That’s something a mate does. They might be legally married, but their courtship has hardly started, Shiro has yet to talk to Krolia or Kolivan or Keith’s father-

“It tastes a bit like those candies from Arus you like.” Keith says, shaking the treat a bit.

No, wait. Keith may know a lot about the Galra and he may be comfortable with their culture, but he still spent half of his life on Earth. Some customs go over his head sometimes. Maybe this is one of those.

So Shiro leans down and takes the treat into his mouth. He chews and yes, Keith is right - it does taste like one of his favorites. “It’s really good.” he tells Allura.

“Why, thank you. Keith told me you like Arusian snacks. I figured these are quite a close match.” she says, then winks. She pushes forward two teacups. “Drink up! And tell me if I made it right!”

Shiro follows Keith’s lead, taking a cup and blowing on it before taking a sip. The drink leaves his throat warm, it’s flavorful, almost spicy, but mostly bitter with just an aftertaste of sweetness.

He almost spits it out when he realizes both Allura and Keith were watching him expectantly.

“W-What…?” he squeaks out, wary.

“How do you like it? More syrup?” Allura asks, eyes wide and curious, the tiny syrup pitcher ready in her hand. “Maybe salt? Coran puts salt in his...”

“Ew.” Keith whispers.

“Um, maybe just a bit more.” Shiro answers, offering his cup. “Syrup.” he adds hastily. Then, because he didn’t want to seem rude - “Please.”

Allura looks charmed, and reaches out to pour a bit more syrup in the cup. “That should do it, I think.”

“How sweet is that by now?” Keith asks.

“Not as sweet as yours. I seem to need an entire pitcher for you.” Allura shakes her head. “But it should be enough to even out the bitterness. Isn’t it, Shiro?”

He takes an experimental sip before nodding. “It’s just right, Princess.”

Her eyes narrow.

“Allura.” he concedes.

Keith hums thoughtfully, sipping his own drink.

Then Allura leans over, smile coy. “Taking notes on how your husband likes his tea?”

Shiro almost chokes.

Keith rolls his eyes at his friend, hiding behind his cup. “I was just curious.”

Shiro tries to think the pink in Keith's cheeks are from the heat of the tea, and nothing else. But now that he's looking, he couldn't help but notice the strands of hair curled against Keith's cheek, on the verge of dipping into his drink. He raises his free hand to carefully draw the strands away and tuck them behind Keith's ear.

Keith blinks up at him, more curious than surprised.

“Sorry. It was getting into your cup.” he hastily explains.

“Oh. Thanks.” is all Keith says, before going back to his tea.

They look over when Allura giggles. She's looking at them, eyes shiny and smile dreamy. “You two make adorable newlyweds.”

Keith pouts. “It's not-”

“-like that. I know, I know.” Allura says, appeasing. She starts pouring tea for herself. “That is actually why I invited you two over.”

Keith raises an eyebrow. “Really?”

Shiro sits up a bit straighter. He didn’t really know what he’s here for, in the first place. Keith had just popped in his quarters a few quintants ago and asked him if he wants to go with him to visit a friend, just to hang out. Apparently, said friend wanted Keith to take his husband along, and Keith figured he might as well bring Shiro anyway to clear up the misunderstanding.

Of course, Keith hadn’t told him that said friend just happened to be the Princess of Altea herself, not until Shiro specifically asked, and they were well on their way to the Embassy by then.

“I’d like to apologize, formally.” Allura starts, and takes a deep breath before she continues. “I got excited, and I should have known better. I am sorry for spreading misinformation about the two of you, and your relationship.”

Keith sighs. He doesn’t look or sound angry, only a bit resigned. “Allura-”

She holds up a finger, as she always does, to quiet him. “Krolia has told me about how… enthusiastic everyone’s been, and that for the past few quintants, you’ve been avoiding our friends because of it. I’m really sorry, Keith. I know you’re a private person, I really should have considered-”

This time, Keith is the one who raises his finger, and Allura stops, caught off guard. “Allura, I told you already, it’s okay. It’s not… that bad.”

She looks unconvinced.

“The worst was Lotor, and that’s been taken care of. I managed to convince him to cancel the honeymoon suite.”

She frowns, then she turns to Shiro. “Of course, you too, Shiro! Did my big, reckless mouth get you in trouble too? Tell me, I’ll do anything I can to help-”

Shiro shrugs, uncertain. “Actually… nothing much has changed for me?”

Allura blinks. “Really?”

“He lives in HQ. You didn’t tell the Blades.” Keith says. “Small blessings.”

She sighs, relieved. “Oh. Yes, of course. So… you two… you’re okay?”

“Yep.” Keith nods. “We’re alive.”

“We’re okay, Princess.” Shiro agrees, less sarcastic.

Allura looks from one to the other, the tension in her shoulders slowly easing.

“No need to keep apologizing.” Keith adds. With a chuckle, he says, “And here I thought you made me come over and gave me all this food to butter me up so you can drag me to go gift shopping for Lance’s birthday. Again.”

“W-Well…” She looks like someone caught her red-handed, but she hurriedly waves it off. “No! Of course not, that’s… that’s quite a few phoebs to go, isn’t it?”

Keith squints at her, frowning. “Huh… So you were planning on it?”

“You’re the easiest to get a hold of, Keith.”

“Easiest- I’m a spy! ” Keith says, looking affronted. “Hunk is a chef, Pidge lives in her lab! Go with them.”

“Hunk is on tour the whole year. Pidge has her laboratory on lockdown, and only her brother knows how to drag her out of that place.” Allura counters. “Meanwhile, I know your parents!”

Keith buries his face in his hands. “Ugh, I don’t even like your boyfriend.”

“Oh, you do . And I do not have a boyfriend, Lance is a good friend.” Allura huffs, indignant.

Keith huffs right back. “Uh-huh.”

“Enough about me! I promise, that really is not the reason I invited you and Shiro.” she says, and like a good diplomat, she brings her hand to her chest and looks beseechingly at them both.

Shiro almost reaches out to comfort her, just from how helpless she looks.

“From the bottom of my heart, again, I am sorry for spreading misinformation that made you want to avoid people you care about-”

“Allura.” Keith groans. “You make it sound so dramatic. Stop. You made the Emperor of Daibazaal make a fancy hotel reservation on Earth, so what? It’s no big deal. We both survived. Besides, we’re… uh…”

At this, he looks towards Shiro, and Shiro looks back, coughs, and gingerly sips his tea.

Keith swears he learned that from Kolivan.

“You are...?” Allura prompts.

Keith picks a treat from the tray and pops it into his mouth.

He takes his time chewing.

Allura watches.

When he reaches for another, she snaps. “Keith.”

Keith squeaks out his answer. “We’regoingtodinnertonight.”

Her brows shoot up. “Pardon?”

Keith sighs, then finally gives in. “We’re going to dinner tonight.”

She stares. At Keith, then Shiro. “Dinner?”

They both nod.

Allura takes another second to process, then she practically glows as she claps her hands together, letting out excited squeals. “ Aaaaahhhh! A date? You two are going on a date?!”

Keith rolls his eyes, but spares her a smile. “Yes, Princess, we are going on a date.”

“So you two are together after all!”

Shiro shakes his head. “I… I have yet to ask for Krolia’s blessing to court Keith, but I will, as soon as I can.”

“You know she’ll just tell you to ask me , right?” Keith sighs. “And, that I’ll date you even without asking her?”

Shiro smiles, fond. “Even so. It’s just… important to me, to let her know first.”

“How traditionally Galra.” Allura says, sounding impressed. “You found yourself a good and honorable suitor, Keith.”

Keith shrugs. “Don’t freak out over it this time.”

She smiles, nodding. “Cross my pinky."

“Heart.”

“Oh! Cross my heart.” she corrects. “The next time someone asks me, I promise to give them correct information.”

“Good.” Keith says, crossing his arms across his chest. “So… you feel better now?”

“I feel amazing.” Allura laughs. “And I am very very happy for the two of you.”

“Thank you, Pr-... Allura.” Shiro says. “It means a lot.”

Allura smiles, appreciative. “Now, we’ve got plenty of time left… Do you two fancy doing anything else? Besides stuffing your faces full of snacks?”

Keith looks unapologetic as he takes a bite on another cupcake.

Shiro shrugs, thinking about it. Allura hums as she does the same.

After a few moments, she breaks the silence again.

“Say…” she starts, and Keith knows that tone. It’s that tone she has when she believes she has a great idea. “Are either of you up for a quick spar?”

.

.

 

Grandmother,

Today, I had the privilege of having the Princess of Altea, as my friend says it, ‘kick my ass’ in a sparring session.

Said friend is Keith. I've told you about him before, how he's a good leader, commanding officer and friend.

He is now my husband, who I have just decided to court-

 

Yeah, no. There’s entirely too much to unpack there.

Next time, maybe - after he’s asked Krolia for her blessing. Yes, definitely after that.

Chapter Text

Several quintants after their lovely dinner date, Shiro finally gets the opportunity to talk to Krolia.

She does exactly as Keith had said she would. She smiles at Shiro as he tells her his intent over a holo-call, and she chuckles when he finishes.

“We’re of royal blood, but we’re not very traditional, Shiro. If you want to court my son, you only need to ask him. Not me, not Kolivan, not even my husband. I bet Keith doesn’t even call it courting.”

“He says we’re dating.” Shiro says with a little awkward laugh. “And… he calls me his boyfriend?”

“That, you are.”

Shiro nods. “I just thought it would be nice... To have your blessing, too. I know you and Keith are very close.”

“We are.” Krolia tells him, and her smile is not her prim diplomat’s smile, but the soft, gentle one she reserves for her only son. “Anyway, I think you two are good for each other, and I’ve never seen Keith this fond of someone in a long time. Since it means a lot to you, consider my blessing given. I am looking forward to spending some time with you both soon.”

Shiro smiles back and tells her that he feels the same. She says goodbye and to send Keith her love.

Keith is off on a solo mission - well, technically solo, but he has Kosmo with him - so Shiro promises to tell him when he gets back. The conversation had lifted Shiro’s mood up, so while he has free time around the Marmora base, he decides he’ll go to the gym to work out.

It’s been a slow few days after the whole diplomatic trip to Fluv, and he’d been going easy on the training.

As he makes his way through the now-familiar halls, someone sidles up to walk alongside him.

“Shiro.” the shorter Galra greets.

“Commander Thace.” Shiro squares his shoulders and nods. “Anything I can do for you, sir?”

Thace chuckles and raises a hand to pat his arm. “Keith is right. You are too formal.”

Shiro blinks. “I-... He said that?”

“Don't worry, he thinks it's cute.” Thace reassures him.

“He... does?”

Shiro doesn't know who Keith really talks to, besides his parents, about himself or their relationship. He knew that Keith got along with Thace, though. He had seen them training together a couple times.

“He does.” Thace nods. “You’ve asked to court him?”

“He told you that, too?”

Thace grins and chuckles as he says, “Ah, well… in a way.”

“In... a way?”

“I’ve known Keith since he was a kit. That child wouldn’t be able to hide anything from me for long. Not that he’s trying to hide anything, mind. But, you know him. Sometimes he forgets to let us know things.”

Shiro remembers the surprise tea party with Allura and nods in understanding.

Thace’s data-pad chimes, and he speeds up. “Well, I must be off now. It’s nice seeing you, Shiro. Best of luck with the courting...”

Shiro smiles back. “Thank you, Thace.”

“Oh, and a tip? Take him racing.”

Thace winks, and then he’s jogging away and turning the next corner.

.


 

.

The following day, Vrek asks him if he’s free to help oversee some new recruits training in hand-to-hand combat. Shiro does him the favor, and spends a good quintant demonstrating basic fighting stances and techniques.

After that, as they watch the recruits tussle, Vrek leans over sideways to whisper, “So. Keith, huh?”

“...Yes?” Shiro glances at him, but keeps an eye out on two recruits very sloppily trying the new moves.

“How’d you do it?”

“Do what?”

“You know… “ Vrek gestures vaguely, then shrugs. “Everyone wants a piece of-”

Shiro turns to him sharply, visibly bristling.

“-information.” the other Galra coughs out. “On how to. Uh. Win... his affections… Honorably.”

Shiro keeps glaring.

“Not me! Well, once upon a time, me. And others! Everyone else. But. He’s… you know, practically a prince, and Kolivan’s kit, and very, very scary.”

At that, Shiro frowns. “Keith is not scary.”

“He… he glowers at everyone! And it’s adorable until you discover that he means it, and makes it hurt.”

“That’s because you tease him.”

“You don’t?”

“No.” Shiro looks at his fellow Blade with a disapproving frown. “I respect him.”

“Well, we do, too! But he’s just… he’s so tiny… and pink… and soft-like.”

Shiro's frown deepens. “And what happens when you tell him that?”

“He doesn't like it, so-... Oh. I see.” Vrek nods, like he has finally seen the light. Shiro shakes his head - all these years, these Galra never thought their Commander was grumpy because he didn't like being teased? “What do you do then?”

Shiro blinks. “What do... I… do?”

“Yeah, to make him all nice and not grumpy.”

“I don't make him nice, he was already nice.” Shiro sighs. “How did you know about it anyway?”

“Know about what?”

“About… us? Me and Keith?”

“What?” Vrek chuckles, like Shiro just made a joke. “Well, the same way everyone knew,  I guess?”

Shiro doesn't get it.

Before he can ask, they hear a yelp and Vrek growls under his breath as his eyes zero in on the source. “Hey! You’re gonna break each other’s arms like that! I know that’s the point, but we’re in training…”

Shiro forgets to ask because the recruits start fighting over what went wrong and then one bites the other, and Vrek sighs. “Aw, quiznak.”

.


 .

Shiro gets asked about Keith four more times over the next two quintants.

Shiro always asks them right back how they knew about it.

Ilun had shrugged, Antok snorted, and the other two simply laughed at him.

.


 .

Finally, over a shared table in the dining hall, Ulaz, with a very amused shake of his head, tells him, “Your scent, Shiro. Your scent is all over Keith.”

“Oh…”

Oh.

Of course.

Yes, that makes sense.

“So… nobody told them?”

“Well, Keith did, technically.” Ulaz answers, shrugging. “Not that I think he meant to. His sense of smell isn’t as good as ours. He probably didn’t notice.”

Shiro nods, watching the doctor swipe through his data-pad as he ate. Indeed, he rarely saw Keith rely on his sense of smell when in a mission, or everyday, in general.

And well… Keith likes borrowing and sleeping in Shiro’s too-big shirts, wrapped up in Shiro’s arms, under Shiro’s sheets.

Of course everyone would have smelled Shiro on him.

It does make a lot of sense. It’s obvious now, in hindsight. How did he even miss that part?

But also-

“What… What exactly do you guys… know ?”

Ulaz doesn’t look up from the data-pad, humming in consideration before nodding. “What else? No one smells that much like their mate unless they’ve copulated.”

Shiro is thankful he had already finished his meal, because he would have choked .

He almost does, anyway.

“C-Cop-... We- We… haven’t-... We haven’t! I mean, that’s… that hasn’t-”

Ulaz spares him a look now. A curious one. “Really?”

“We… we’re not mates, yet? I’m just starting to court him.”

“Hm.”

“Keith just wears my shirts to bed! That’s all!”

“I don’t know why you’re trying very hard to explain to me, Shiro.” Ulaz says, looking very very amused. And smug. And here he was actually Shiro’s Blade mentor of sorts.

Oh, Gods. He’ll probably tell Thace and the other Commanders about this and they’d… what, maybe laugh at his awkwardness?

Why is he awkward, anyway? He’d been in relationships before- He’s an adult Galra male and he has experience- He shouldn’t be so flustered-

But this is Keith . And Keith is different, Keith is it , he just knows it, and -

“But I appreciate the clarification. That’s duly noted. You might have to give up on correcting everyone, though. There’s just too many of them, you’d have to make a base-wide announcement.”

Shiro sighs in despair, picking at the leftovers from his plate. “Well… at least they don’t know that we’re married.”

Ulaz, the most soft-spoken Blade Shiro has ever known, drops his data-pad and practically exclaims , “Pardon me, you’re WHAT , now?!”

.

.

 

Grandfather,

How are you? I hope you and grandmother are well.

I have a question: When you got married to grandmother, how did your co-workers take it?

Did they all congratulate and pat you on the back? Did they tease you? Did they ask very inappropriate questions? Did they give you fancily-wrapped presents that turned out to be questionable, suggestive items, some you didn’t even know existed before? Did your mentor spend an entire quintant telling you about the intricacies of married life and when, considering your line of work, is the perfect time to try for kits?

I know this is very different from my usual messages, but please do bear with me.

I promise, I’m asking this for a friend.

 

He actually sends that one.

Chapter Text

They’re coming home from a quick, humanitarian mission on a planet several star systems away from Daibazaal when Keith receives a message.

A few seconds later, he calls out from the pilot’s seat. “Hey, Shiro?”

Shiro hums, eyes on the hologram in front of them as he studies their ship’s course. “Yes?”

“Wanna eat something good tonight?”

“What do you have in mind?” he says as he looks at Keith, who is tapping away at his data-pad connected to the ship’s console.

With a swipe of his hand, Keith brings up a new projection: a ship and some coordinates. “My friend’s nearby, and he’s inviting us over. Just for a meal. Then he says we can be on our way again. He just really likes cooking for friends. ”

Shiro doesn’t have much to consider. They aren’t in a rush to get back to base, and Keith seems at ease, almost eager, to see this friend of his. “Nothing wrong with a stop-over, I guess.”

“Great. I’ve been looking forward to introducing you to him.” Keith says. This time when he glances over, he grins. “He’s one of the good ones.”

Shiro likes it when Keith talks about people he cares about. His gaze visibly softens, and his voice gentles. Shiro smiles. “Then I’m excited to meet him.”

Keith smiles back and leans over to give him a quick peck on the cheek, which Shiro eagerly bows his head for. Then he settles back on his seat and starts tapping a reply.

Shiro takes a moment to just admire the sight of Keith smiling and content. Then he recalls the whole surprise thing with Princess Allura, so he asks, “Who is this friend of yours?”

“Oh, you know him.”

“I do?”

“Well. You know of him.”

Ah. There it is. “Of course I do.”

.


 

.

“Keith, buddy! It’s been so long!”

Keith lets out a small ‘oof’ as he returns his friend’s hug that literally sweeps him off his feet. “Good t’see ‘ya too, Hunk.” he manages, patting the other man’s back.

Hunk lets go to turn to Kosmo, who excitedly noses his hand and leans up for a head scratch, which the man quickly indulges. “And of course you too, space wolf! It was a nice surprise when my ship pinged that you’re nearby. How’d the mission go?”

“It went well. We delivered some goods and now they’re with the people who need them.” Keith says, smiling when Hunk takes out a treat from his pocket and Kosmo happily takes it. “And you’re on tour?”

Hunk grins. “Always. The universe never stops needing some culinary TLC.” Finally, he looks behind Keith, to where Shiro stands, contentedly watching them. “But we can talk about that later. I’m guessing this is the hubby?”

Keith rolls his eyes, but stands back to pull Shiro forward. “I told you that’s-... a long story. Okay. Hunk - this is my boyfriend, Shiro. Shiro - my friend, Hunk.”

“Ah yeah, Allura told me. Hubby-turned-boyfriend-soon-to-be-hubby-again!” Hunk says.

“Uh… not… quite- Whatever. Yeah, sure.”

Hunk waves that off and beams up at Shiro instead. “Nice to meet you, man!”

Shiro holds out a hand, as he knew humans did for a greeting. Hunk does take it, but instead of shaking it, he simply clasps it and then draws Shiro down for a warm hug.

“O-Oh.” Shiro says, not quite knowing what to do. This is… new. “It’s nice to meet you too, Hunk.”

It is nice to meet the Hunk Garrett, known to the universe as a travelling intergalactic chef who usually catered diplomatic, mostly Coalition-hosted events, when he’s not busy studying, discovering and exploring new cuisine from planet to planet.

“Yeah, he’s a hugger.” Keith says with a small smile as Shiro awkwardly pats Hunk’s back, much like what he saw Keith doing earlier.

“Phew, you’re a big guy.” Hunk says when he lets go. He hums as he looks Shiro up and down. “I hope I made enough for all of us.”

“Hunk, please. If anything, you always make too much.” Keith points out. “I bet it’s more than enough for the three of us.”

Hunk turns to him then, smile brightening. “Uh, actually-”

He doesn’t get to finish, because they hear footsteps rushing towards them, followed by a voice all-too familiar to Keith’s ears.

“Keith Kogane!” shrieks the voice from Keith’s nightmares. Keith involuntarily steps back. “Don’t you dare try to run from me now!”

Keith turns to Hunk, and Shiro has never seen him more terrified. And he’d seen Keith jump out of an airlock and into open space-

Hunk shrugs. “She said she wanted to surprise you?”

“Well, she succeeded.” Keith grits out.

Someone appears around the corner and they’re going so fast, Shiro swears all he sees is a yellow and pink blur, until there’s an Altean woman standing in front of them, glaring daggers at Keith.

Keith looks rattled, but huffs and hold his ground.

“Romelle.” he says, chin up.

“Keith.” she says back, just as smug.

Hunk lets out a breath and sends Shiro a wary ‘yep, this is happening’ smile. By then, Shiro has chosen to just stay quiet and wait this - whatever it is - out.

“I thought you were back in Altea.” Keith says, curt.

She replies with a similarly neutral voice. “You know my job takes me everywhere.”

“So it does.”

“So it does.” she repeats, taking a daring step closer. Keith doesn’t back away this time.  “I heard you got married.”

“It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.”

“Is it?”

“It is.”

“Were there flowers, at least?”

“So many flowers. It was a garden wedding.”

Romelle’s eye twitches.

“Sunny day. And we were both dressed nicely.”

She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. “I wasn’t there…”

Keith visibly falters. “I told you it wasn’t-”

“Still!” she whines, all fronts thrown out the window as she clings to Keith’s Blade uniform. “I’ve had a binder full of plans for your wedding since we were ten !”

“I know! I respect that binder!” Keith whines back, gripping her wrists and squeezing comfortingly. “But that wedding wasn’t even planned. You know that if I had a choice, you’d be right there. With the binder.”

Romelle looks at him, eyes on the verge of tears. “You swear?”

Keith leans down so their foreheads touch. “I swear.”

Romelle squeals and throws his arms around Keith’s neck, and Keith hugs her back just as tightly, eyes closed and all.

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”

“Never get married again without me?”

“Promise.”

Kosmo squeezes in between them and they hug him too.

Shiro doesn’t know what is happening. He looks to Hunk, who is just shaking his head. When Hunk notices Shiro looking, he shrugs and whispers, “Yes, they are always this dramatic.”

Keith and Romelle squeeze each other for a few more ticks before they let go and turn to the other two.

“That’s him, by the way.” Keith says.

Romelle squeals as she practically bounces towards Shiro. “Keith’s husband! Oh, Keith said you were tall, but you are big ! Hello! I’m Romelle!”

Shiro smiles, taking the hand she offers. “I’m Shiro. Good to meet you, Romelle.”

He half-expects to be hugged again, but she only swings their hands left to right giddily. Okay. That… is also new.

She beams up at him sweetly. “Has Keith told you about me?”

“Oh. Uhhh…”

“Really, now!” she frowns, disapproving. “He should have told you about his ex-wife!”

Their hands stop swinging. “E-Ex-...?”

“Oh, snap.” someone whispers.

It sounds like Hunk, but it’s like a distant echo to Shiro’s ears as he just… stares. At the person in front of him.

Keith’s ex-

“Wife.” Romelle nods. “We were married, a few years back.”

Shiro freezes. Married. Keith was- Keith was married ? To an Altean? To this… woman? A few years- Keith never mentioned-

Beside them, Keith groans. “Melle.”

Shiro looks at him, eyes wide and questioning. That’s when Romelle bursts into laughter, squeezing Shiro’s much bigger hand in hers as she starts swinging them again. “Aw, you big puppy! Look at your face!

“I- I-... What-” Shiro reels back, helpless - no one calls him-... he’s not-... big puppy?

“Don’t bully him.” Keith growls, coming up to tuck himself to Shiro’s side. He snatches Shiro’s hand from Romelle’s to wrap his boyfriend's arms around his shoulders instead. “You were never my wife. Playground weddings aren’t legally binding.”

Romelle snorts. “Your playground wedding was legally binding.”

“Yeah, that’s ‘cause Shiro and I had witnesses, and we weren’t, like, eight . Also, you would've married Acxa if she didn't ask to be the officiant.” Keith counters. He looks up at Shiro. “She’s kidding.”

Shiro sighs in relief, settling his hand on Keith’s shoulder to pull him warmly to his side. “Well. That’s a relief.”

“I swear, I don't always marry people in playgrounds.” Keith grins. “You’re my first and only legal playground wife.”

Shiro chuckles, leaning down to press a kiss on top of Keith’s head. “I better be.”

They are reminded of their companions when Hunk and Romelle both let out a loud, simultaneous, “Awwww!”

“Yeah, shut up.” Keith says, pointedly glaring at his two friends who were holding on to each other as they look at him with happy, soppy smiles. He’s frowning in disapproval as anyone with embarrassing friends would, but Shiro can tell he’s fighting a smile, and there’s a light blush dusting his cheeks. “I thought we were here to eat?”

“Right!” Hunk says, snapping once before gesturing to the hangar exit with a flourish. Kosmo is first to his side, trotting around him, eager for the feast. “Honored guests, food is ready! If you will follow me...”

“You two are lucky, Hunk has some new recipes and he’s looking for people to taste test!” Romelle takes Shiro’s other arm as they all follow Hunk to the dining hall. “Shiro, you ever tried one of his many masterpieces?”

“I haven’t had the honor.” Shiro answers. “My grandmother is a fan of his work, though. She tried cooking some of his recipes, and they tasted very delicious. She says he's a genius.”

Hunk looks back shortly to send him a smile. “Aw, geez… Grandmas are always so nice to me.”

“Your grandma likes to cook?” Keith asks.

“She… dabbles.” Shiro says, smiling at fond memories of his grandmother ‘experimenting’ in the kitchen. “My grandfather likes food, so… she likes surprising him sometimes.”

“That’s sweet.” Romelle coos, then she gasps. “Oh my, Keith, you married a man before meeting his family?”

Keith groans. “Let me live that down, please.”

“Never!” she sings happily.

“So, um, Romelle?” Shiro starts, taking a good look at the woman. Hunk is wearing a chef’s outfit, which was understandable, but Romelle is in casual Altean wear, so that got him curious. “You work with Hunk?”

“For now.” she says. “Technically, I’m on the Coalition’s payroll. I plan and organize events. Hunk does a lot of catering for us, so I get to work with him a lot.”

“She hitchhikes a lot, too.” Hunk chimes in.

“Oh, you love having me over!” Romelle points out.

Hunk glances back at them, shrugging. “I do! I wasn’t complaining!”

“Good.” she says, then huffs. “Keith hates having me over.”

“You know I don’t.” Keith says.

“I can tell . When I’m in Daibazaal, you’re busy training. When I call, you always say you’re having a movie night. When I’m at the apartment, only Kosmo comes over to cuddle with me because you’re sleeping at HQ. It’s like you suddenly got yourself a boyfriend in the Blades or something-”

She stops.

Keith shrugs. “I mean… you’re not wrong.”

Romelle pouts, and reaches across Shiro to shove her friend. “You could have just told me!”

“There was nothing to tell! We weren’t dating then!” Keith defends, laughing.

“But you had someone you liked! And you didn’t tell me!”

“Hey, I’m telling you now, aren't I?!”

Shiro just watches and listens, enjoying all of it. He’d never seen Keith this playful, this open, not even while playing with little kits. So this is what Keith is like with his best friends. Shiro likes this Keith a lot.

He blinks when Romelle tugs at his sleeve. “Shiro, do you support this? He’s been ditching his best friend, and not telling her why ?”

Shiro pretends to think about it, and laughs when Keith just burrows further into his side, hiding from said best friend.

“Uh… Do you want an honest answer? Because I’m really, really biased.” Shiro tells Romelle, who gapes at him, shaking her head in offense.

Hunk lets out a giddy laugh of his own. “I approve of your friend-husband-boyfriend, Keith. Get you a man who’s always on your team, right?”

“Thanks, Hunk.” Keith says. “I knew you were my real best friend.”

Romelle snorts, crossing her arms across her chest. “You’re a big puppy.” she tells Shiro, then glares at Keith. “Fine. Watch me find a new best friend, Yorak .”

Shiro peers down to look at Keith. “Y-Your Galran name is... Yorak?”

Keith looks away, shrugging awkwardly. “Yes…?”

Romelle cackles. “I know , right? It’s such a-”

“-beautiful name.” Shiro says, staring down at Keith in awe. He runs a hand through the other's hair as he recites, “A Galran warrior of legend who was known for his grace in battle and his pure heart. It fits you perfectly, Keith.”

Keith looks at him in disbelief for a split second before he grins and hooks his hand behind the other’s neck to pull him down. “You’re so worth ditching Romelle for.”

Romelle throws her hands up in defeat before walking off to cling to Hunk instead. “I wanna be mad but they’re so adorable! I hate this.”

Hunk laughs. “But you love them?”

She spares another glance at the two only to see them rubbing their noses together. She turns away, leaning her chin on Hunk’s shoulder as she grumbles, “Yes, Gods, I love them.”

.

.

 

 

Grandmother,

I wish you a happy name day! I hope you are well, and I wish I was there with you and grandfather to celebrate.

Recently I had the good fortune to meet someone I know you admire, and I told him about you. He wants to thank you for your support by giving you a little present.

I hope this makes up for my absence, even just a little.

 

“She’ll really love it.” Shiro says, watching Keith’s deft hands work on wrapping up a signed copy of Hunk’s latest cookbook. Galrans didn't wrap their presents, but Keith insisted this way, the Terran way, they can keep the surprise. “I should tell her that you’re the one who got it for her.”

“Nah, you don’t have to.” Keith shakes his head, focused on the task. He’s working on the bow now. “I don’t wanna try... like, gaining her favor with gifts? I’d rather meet her and hang out.”

“Hang out.” Shiro repeats, laughing lightly. “You want to hang out with my grandmother?”

“She sounds cool.” is all Keith says, grinning at him. “Can’t wait to meet her.”

Shiro smiles back. ‘And I can’t wait to tell her about you.’

Chapter Text

Shiro wakes up that morning to a familiar weight on top of him and fingers running through the tuft of hair on his forehead. He opens his eyes and sees Keith peering at him, eyes open but sleepy. Keith has his head propped up on his arm, and the rest of him draped over Shiro lazily.

He takes Keith’s hand from his hair to press a kiss to his fingers.

“Good morning.” Keith says, smiling sweetly.

“Good morning.” Shiro greets back, letting go of Keith’s hand in favor of yawning. As he arches on the mattress to stretch, he jostles Keith, who laughs softly and clings to his broad shoulders to keep himself from falling off. Shiro wraps Keith in his arms again, loose enough to allow Keith to shuffle up slightly for a slow, languid kiss.

Waking up to Keith in the mornings has been one of the highlights of his days in HQ recently.

“So.” Keith says, settling back on his arms. “I was thinking of going on a vacation. Just a short one.”

Shiro hums, hands rubbing soothingly on Keith’s sides. “When?”

“Next month. Well. Uh. Phoeb? Roughly a phoeb.”

“Where?”

“Earth.” Keith answers, “It’s almost my dad’s birthday. I’m sure Kolivan will let me go. I usually do around this time of year, anyway. Mom does, too. We don't throw a big party or anything special like that, we just wanna be there on the day.”

Shiro smiles lightly. “You miss your father?”

“We keep in touch, but. You know how it is. You miss just being with them.”

“I know what you mean.”

Keith looks at him, smiling back.

Keith keeps looking.

Shiro thinks he might have missed something here.

“I… am going to miss you, while you’re on vacation?” he tries.

Keith stares, then chuckles as he shakes his head. “Shiro...”

“Keith?”

Keith looks at him, eyes meltingly fond. Shiro feels his legs go weak. “Shiro, I’m asking you to go with me.”

“Oh.” he says, eyes wide. “I thought… It’s just-... It’s a family thing. I thought you were just letting me know.”

Keith shakes his head, still grinning fondly. “I want you to meet my dad, and my dad wants to meet you. But if you’re not up for it, I understand.”

Shiro takes a deep breath. “I’d be glad to meet him. I just… I don’t know a lot about him. He might not… He might not like me?”

“Please. Not like you ?” Keith rolls his eyes. “Look, he’s fine with his wife being in a relationship with Kolivan, who’s an old grump. You’re, like, a space angel. He’ll like you.”

Shiro nods, appreciating the support. He'd have to look up what an ‘angel’ is, though. “You’re sure?”

“Yeah! I mean… You’ve seen how he cried when I told him about the wedding.”

Shiro couldn’t help but laugh, recalling the man who was dramatically sobbing into the holo-call because he wasn’t able to give his only child away. “Yes, those tears looked very real.”

Keith shuffled slightly, bringing their faces closer. “So… you’re coming?”

Shiro leans up to catch soft lips in his. “Happily.”

They kiss until Kosmo jumps on the bed and they both fall off.

.


 

.

Shiro stares out into the wide expanse of desert in fascination. He'd heard of desert planets and he'd seen images, but there were no deserts in Daibazaal, nor in any of the planets he'd visited during Blade missions.

It's hot , is his first impression. But it's beautiful. There's a certain grace to these sand dunes and how everything seemed to dance under the scorching sun.

The wind helps with the heat, specially with how fast Keith drives. Shiro had thought that the old red-and-white thing wouldn't be able to hold them both, but Keith only smirked at him and said that it can carry five people easily.

If they held on tight enough.

"C'mon, the girls didn't even bat an eye when they rode with me on this baby."

"The... girls...?"

"Uh... who was it... Romelle? Pidge, Allura and Acxa? Even drove off a cliff that time. They enjoyed it! Well... most of them did."

Well, it's not like Shiro could afford not to hold tight, since Keith drove like he's riding the wind - and anyway, Shiro always likes the feel of Keith in his arms.

“We're here!” Keith announces, shouting over the noisy engine.

Shiro makes out the fences first. Then he sees the two-story house in the distance with a shack beside it. There’s a lone tree in front and more scattered around, then rocky cliffs beyond. Parked by the house is a black hoverbike and what looked like a larger land vehicle.

Keith parks beside the other bike easily. Shiro hops down and stumbles a bit because of the unfamiliar terrain on his feet, but he steadies himself quickly afterwards.

Keith lands much more gracefully and as they retrieve their bags from the compartment, he calls out, “Hey, Pop! You home?”

There’s shuffling inside the house, and the door swings open just as they make their way towards it.

The man on the doorway grins as he sees them. Shiro sees Keith’s face light up as he starts jogging. Keith’s father steps out from the porch, arms outstretched. He meets Keith halfway with a warm hug.

“Good to have you back, kiddo.” he says, as he ruffles his son’s hair.

Keith laughs, half-heartedly swiping the man’s hand away. “It’s good to be back, Pop.”

Shiro finally catches up to them. “Mr. Kogane.” he greets, catching the man’s attention. “I’m Shiro. It’s nice to meet you, sir.”

Keith blinks up at him, surprised. Shiro had never taken initiative to introduce himself to Keith’s friends and family before, but now he’s standing tall and dignified, obviously a little bit nervous, but eager to make a good impression.

It makes him proud.

His father raises an eyebrow, but keeps his grin as he eyes the Galra from head to toe. He tips his chin up, not intimidated by Shiro’s size or stature. He'd been friends with Kolivan and other Blades long enough. “Likewise. Call me Tex. Everyone does.”

He offers his hand and Shiro takes it, shaking firmly.

“So, you’re my son-in-law, eh, Shiro?”

“On paper.” Keith quickly interjects. “I know that you know that.”

Shiro nods. “Only on paper, sir, but it’s still an honor. I am fortunate enough that Keith has allowed me to court him. I know we’re doing this out of order, but I will try my best to do right by your son. He’s… He means a lot to me.”

“Huh.” Tex huffs, squinting at the Galra. Then, he leans sideways, whispering none-too-quietly to Keith, “Naw, boy, you’re dating a nerd?”

Keith just looks… done. “You know he’s a Blade, right? He can throw you. He can throw Antok .”

Tex scoffs, unconvinced. “Why does he talk like that? Kolivan doesn’t talk like that.”

“Kolivan doesn’t talk. Period.” Keith shrugs. “He’s just trying to be nice to you. Also, he’s right there, and he can hear us.”

Shiro doesn’t know whether or not to pretend that he does hear them, so he just… smiles.

Keith frowns. “Dude, don’t smile like that, makes me wanna jump you and my dad’s here.”

Shiro blushes dark purple. “K-Keith!”

Tex flicks his son’s ear. “Boy! The mouth on you!”

“Who do you think I got it from?” Keith whines, then ducks when his father tries to flick his ear again. “Let’s go inside, Pop. Before the sun roasts my boyfriend.”

With that, he grabs Shiro’s hand and pulls him towards the house. Tex follows them, complaining. “No goddamn way I raised you to talk like that, you little hellion- and don't get sand on my carpet!”

And Keith counters that with, “There's already sand on your carpet.”

The easy familiarity charms Shiro. Keith looks right at home here.

Shiro grew up within the dark and cold atmosphere of Daibazaal, so the air conditioning inside the house is a relief. He follows Keith upstairs to put their bags away, then they both hurry back when Tex calls them down, saying they have to help make dinner.

They make it to the kitchen in time to find Tex laughing as he greets Kosmo, whose tail is wagging as he proudly drops two dead bloody rabbits at the man’s feet.

“Good job, boy.”

“Really?” Keith grumbles. “We can’t get sand on your carpet, but Kosmo is excused with sand, blood and corpses?”

“He brought game. He’s excused.” Tex shrugs, picking up the rabbits and handing them to Keith, who takes them without flinching but holds them away from his body. Kosmo yips happily. “We’ll have this for lunch tomorrow ‘cause I’ve already started on the barbecue tonight. You know what to do.”

Keith grins and turns to Shiro. “You’ll love dad’s b- Shiro?”

Shiro looks pale. They didn’t even know a Galra could pale. He is staring down at the dead rabbits dangling from Keith’s hands.

Tex frowns. “What’s the matter? Never seen a dead animal before?”

Shiro swallows. “Are… Are these the same creatures we were watching holo-vids of, the other day?”

Keith stares at him before his eyes widen in realization. “Oh. O-Oh! Babe, no!” he soothes, vehemently shaking his head before stopping because… Well, Shiro is not entirely wrong . “Well… Yes?”

Shiro’s mouth drops open.

“No! I mean- They’re the same species! But… different… There are little cute ones you keep as pets. There are wild ones. We typically hunt them for meat! These… these are the wild ones.” Keith tries his best to explain, hiding the rabbits behind his back. “Right, I’ll just… I’ll just get these outta your sight, okay?”

Shiro could only nod. “Okay.”

Keith heads straight for the back door. He also clicks his tongue at Kosmo. “You come with me, Kos. Let’s getcha cleaned up a bit.”

Then they’re gone. Shiro is left there, standing awkwardly with Tex who is scrutinizing the droplets of blood and sand on the floor that Keith and Kosmo left behind.

After a few moments, the man seems to come up with a decision as he shrugs and nods. “They’ll clean that up too.”

That seems to snap Shiro back to reality. “I can do that, if you’ll let me, sir.”

“Nah, Keith’s dog, Keith cleans. House rule.” Tex says, turning around and starting to shuffle around the kitchen. “And you’re a big softie, aren’t you? You won’t eat rabbit tomorrow, then?”

“Oh, I’m sure I can… try it. It just… took me by surprise, I think?” he says. Tex hands him something - a cooking utensil, perhaps, and then a big bowl, and he holds on to them without question as he continues, “Keith always watches those holo-vids, and he talks about how much he adores those little rabbit creatures. He says they’re precious. He never mentioned that he also hunts and eats them… ”

Tex laughs. “Yeah, he does have a soft spot for the little ones. The big wild ones are game around here, though. They taste good if cooked right, so you’d be missing out if you don’t try.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll definitely give it a go tomorrow.” Shiro nods and tries to hold steady as Tex throws in unfamiliar fruits and vegetables in his bowl.

Tex chuckles as he grabs his own stack of cooking utensils and gestures for Shiro to follow him to the kitchen island. “C’mon, son, just call me Tex. We’re cookin’ a family dinner here.”

“Yes, Mr. Tex.”

Tex looks up at him with a mildly surprised grin. “A total gentleman. Does Keith find that cute?”

Shiro smiles, bashful. Thace told him that too. Maybe Keith does like that about him? He'd have to thank his grandparents for raising him to be unfailingly polite. “He… humors it?”

“Ah. He totally finds that cute.” Tex shakes his head as he assesses their inventory. “Alright, let’s get this started. Make it special. This is Keith’s favorite, and Krolia hasn’t been back here for a while.”

Shiro follows the man’s lead as they begin laying out their ingredients and equipment on the island countertop. A lot of the food look foreign to him, but many of the tools he recognizes from some episodes of Hunk’s cooking videos.

“What are we making?” he asks. Keith knows his favorite snacks and Galran dishes. He thinks it’s fair he gets to know Keith’s favorite Earth foods, too, and really, there’s no one better to learn from than Keith’s favorite cook.

“Well, we’ll be grillin’ some meat and vegetables. We’ll marinate the meat - it’s a family recipe so you’re very lucky to be here for that. Some coleslaw, ‘cause Krolia loves that. Then fruit salad, I’m thinkin’ sweet and creamy, for dessert.”

Shiro nods, eager to find out what all those words meant. “I can’t wait.”

“Well, wash your hands and grab an apron, then. There’s one big enough for Kolivan in that there drawer, it should fit you.”

Shiro heeds the instructions, finding the apron easily and slipping it on. When he comes back, Tex is cracking his knuckles, grin eager. It reminds him so much of Keith, he had to smile.

“Right, we’ll make the marinade first, ‘cause we gotta soak the meat in it for a bit. We got our own recipe, a real good one. Folks call this Heath’s Barbecue Sauce.”

“Um… Who is Heath?”

The man raises an eyebrow. “Me. My name is Heath.”

Shiro blinks. “I thought-… I’m sorry, is ‘Tex’ a title?”

“No.” Tex chuckles. “It’s just a nickname. Everyone ‘round here calls me ‘Tex’ because I’m Texan.”

“You are Texan?”

“You bet I am.”

Shiro’s brows furrow in confusion. “How many names do humans have?”

At that, Tex bursts out laughing. Shiro just stands there, more confused than ever, until Keith comes back inside carrying a wrapped package - the rabbits, probably skinned and prepared for storage - with Kosmo trailing behind him

“What’s up? Why are we laughing?”

“K-Keith- Keith, your boyfriend is a riot!” Tex manages to say before he starts laughing again.

Shiro looks at Keith helplessly, and Keith stuffs the meat in the fridge before walking up to them, standing beside Shiro. “Shiro, is he bein’ mean?”

Shiro notes a little bit of accent slipping in Keith's words now.

“No, no, no, I’m not- It was just- He’s hilarious!” the man sighs, finally catching his breath. “He thought-... My name-... Nevermind.” He shakes his head and raises a hand up in defeat. “Just… Let’s just go with Tex , alright, son? You call me that.”

Shiro nods. “Okay… Mr. Tex?”

Tex lets out a shorter laugh, but holds his ground this time.

Keith snorts, leaning on his elbows on the countertop as he grins at Shiro. “That’s real cute that you call him ‘mister’.”

Shiro smiles back, and when he looks at Tex, the man mouths, ‘Told ‘ya.’ then he frowns as realizes what Keith just said, “Hey, I do deserve to be called ‘mister’!”

“Eh.” Keith shrugs, then looks at the ingredients on the table and whistles. “Are we having barbecue?”

“Yes.” Tex answers, and just as Keith opens his mouth to ask, he’s already nodding. “With my sauce, yes. But you’re not joinin’ us. We have enough hands. You go clean your dog’s mess on my floor. You know where the mop is.”

Keith pouts, but only grumbles under his breath as he steps back from the counter and goes off to find said mop.

He leaves a water bowl for a smug Kosmo who has settled comfortably on the back door mat.

When Keith finishes cleaning the kitchen floor, Tex tells him to replace the sheets in his bedroom with the fresh ones laid out on the couch.

Keith rolls his eyes. “Just say you wanna keep Shiro to yourself, old man. Call me when you want me back.” He picks the sheets up and heads upstairs, but not before sending Shiro a reassuring smile. “Kos, you’re with me again.”

Shiro smiles back and watches him and Kosmo go. When he turns back to watching Tex, the man is looking at him with a little grin. It’s quick enough that he nearly misses it as Tex tells him to grab the container of meat on the sink and start chopping.

“So Krolia told me that you’re… what, courtin’ Keith, that’s your term for it, is it?”

Shiro nods. “I am.”

“You’re traditional like that?”

“Not too much by myself, I think. It’s simply what my grandparents have taught me.” Shiro answers, following the man’s lead as they start chopping up the meat into smaller pieces. “But I admit that it can be a bit… dated. Keith and Krolia told me I don’t have to be so formal with that, too. If I followed all the rules, then I wouldn’t have started a relationship with Keith until I was able to ask his parents for permission. Keith wouldn’t have liked that.”

“He would’ve hated it!” Tex laughs. “We’re not traditional. At all. Even Krolia, and she grew up practically a princess.”

“Keith really is far from what I expected, when they told me my new commanding officer would be a senior Blade who’s also part of the royal family.” Shiro agrees. “Keith is just… very down-to-earth.”

“It is easy to forget that the kid’s, like, your emperor’s cousin, yeah.” Tex says. “Sometimes he visits here and just hangs around, drops by his friends’ place, binge-watches a show on my couch with the wolf. Totally normal kid freeloading off his old man. Then I remember when he was born, we got a baby care package the size of a small car and signed ‘Zarkon and Honerva’ . It’s just… real bizarre, ‘ya know?”

Shiro smiles. “I think I understand. It didn’t quite hit me though, until I saw him all dressed up and we were attending a luncheon with queens.”

“S’that when those baby aliens got you married?”

“Yes. It was… it happened very suddenly. We admit that we didn’t know what we were getting into.”

"Who does, right?" Tex chuckles. “But you were dating before that?”

Shiro shakes his head. “No… We were close for colleagues, even for new friends, that’s for sure. I wasn’t able to ask him to dinner until a few quintants after the trip. I’d been thinking of asking Krolia’s permission, but I thought I’d just… go ask Keith, because he’d appreciate that more. I knew that’s how he is.”

Tex glances at him, one eyebrow quirked, considering him. Shiro is relieved when he finally nods in approval. “Attaboy. You know the kid well, huh?”

“I like to think so.” Shiro shrugs. “He’s my best friend.”

“Good.” Tex says. “Ya know, I was thinking of telling you that human courting is complicated too. You’d have to gain approval from the whole family, serenade your desired partner, shower ‘em with presents, the works. You won’t be able to talk or spend time together without a chaperone until your wedding day, which your parents would plan and approve of, of course.”

Shiro has gone silent, so Tex looks up to assess his expression.

The Galra is focused on his task of chopping meat, brows furrowed and lips curled into a small frown. “Keith… didn’t tell me any of that...” He looks up. “Is that… still being practiced?”

Tex laughs, then sighs. “Aw, hell. Can’t get past you twice, huh?”

Shiro grins proudly. “I read up on human customs too.”

“I don’t care what Keith says, you’re a nerd.” Tex declares. “Now, I don’t get to see our boy often, and he’s a very unreliable storyteller, so tell me. How’d you two meet? Krolia said you’re new to the Blades? One year in?”

Shiro does a quick mental math, thankful that the inter-galactic standard time terms isn't that far off to Terran ones. “Closer to two now, actually.”

Before he could continue, they’re interrupted by Keith making his way down the stairs.

“Don’t stop on my account.” he says, casting them a bright, easy smile. “Mom just called, I’m picking her up at the Garrison base. Anything you need that I can buy while I’m out?”

Tex waves him off. “Nah, we’re good here. Go fetch your Ma. Dinner will be ready when you get back.”

“Roger that.” Keith says, slipping on his riding jacket. He strides over to them and tugs on Shiro’s sleeve until the tall Galra leans down so Keith only has to tip-toe to press a kiss to his cheek. “I’ll be back soon. Bear with the old man a little longer?”

Tex lets out an exaggerated gasp. “Hey! What do you mean ‘bear’ with me? Shiro is not bearing with me, we’re havin’ a nice talk, aren’t we, Shiro?”

Shiro chuckles and nods. “We are.” He nuzzles the top of Keith’s head and drops a kiss to his hair. “Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”

“I know. I just wanna annoy him.” Keith smirks.

“Don’t make me separate you two.” Tex grumbles. "Off you go, spitfire. Your Ma’s waitin’.”

“Yes, yes. You’re so eager to get rid of me today.” Keith complains, but extracts himself from Shiro and walks out, avoiding his father’s attempt to ruffle his hair on his way.

They wait until the sound of the hoverbike fades into the distance until they start to talk.

This time, it’s Shiro who starts.

“I actually never met Keith until I got assigned to his squad.”

Tex spares a glance at his companion, and notes the fond little smile on Shiro’s face. He nods. “Go on.”

.


 

.

Keith can already smell the grilled barbecue and vegetables when he parks the hoverbike.

Behind him, Krolia hops off the vehicle, breathes in the cooling early evening air and the scent of dinner, and sighs. “Oh, that smells good.”

“Welcome home, right?” Keith says as he takes his mom’s bag. They exchange grins before heading inside.

The smell makes his mouth water when they get inside. The table is all set and ready. Shiro is sitting on the floor by the couch with Kosmo sprawled over his lap, curiously watching the evening news. Tex welcomes his wife with a tender hug and a kiss.

Keith heads straight for Shiro and Kosmo, expecting his parents to go on and be soppy for a few more moments, but he freezes when his father’s deep voice rings out across the room.

“Keith Yorak Kogane.”

Keith blinks. His dad doesn’t sound so happy. “Uh... Pop?”

Krolia raises a brow too, but observes quietly.

Tex narrows his eyes at his only child and says, “I heard from a certain boyfriend of yours… about some of your… adventures, up there with the Blades.”

Keith looks to Shiro, who looks back innocently. He turns back to his dad. “Yes?”

“You… jumped out of an airlock?”

Oops. So they were talking about that .

Keith bites his lip, trying to smile. “Umm… yeah? It’s… it’s a valid escape route?”

“Four times?”

“Y-Yeah?”

“Without a ship to catch you.”

“They… found me eventually. And Shiro caught me two of those times!”

“You also came and infiltrated a terrorist base all on your own, without backup?”

Keith pales. “I… uh… it was a contingency plan… that… I came up with… on the spot...”

“And you also got on a ship you’ve never flown before while it’s trying to self-destruct?!”

Keith narrows his eyes at Shiro, who now looks mortified - he probably didn't know he was basically providing Keith's dad with ammunition to grill his son about his trademark death-defying stunts.

“It looked close enough to an Altean pod!" Keith insists. "And I-... I was able to land it in the enemy’s hangar and get out before it exploded!”

At that, Krolia finally speaks. “I did not know that one.” They all look to her, then she says, “Good job, little star.”

Tex looks at his wife in disbelief. “Kro! He… He’s been doing this on the regular?!”

Krolia shrugs. “He’s a Blade. It happens. And he’s a damn good one, too. I’m really proud, Keith.”

Keith smiles. “Thanks, Ma.”

“The one with the self-destructing ship must have been fun.”

He nods eagerly. “It was!”

“Fun?!” Tex exclaims. “That’s not supposed to be your idea of fun! I’m terrified , and I wasn’t there!” He gestures at Shiro. “I bet you scared the hell outta Shiro, too!”

They all turn to Shiro this time, and Shiro only keeps quiet for a beat before nodding. “I mean… it was scary…”

Tex huffs. “See?”

“...but it was sort of fun.”

Tex gapes, then shakes his head in disappointed. “You traitor, I thought we bonded.”

Shiro smiles nervously. “I’m sorry, Mr. Texan, sir.”

“Oh my God.” Keith snorts, covering up a bubble of a laugh with his hand. “He’s sassing you already.”

Shiro winks at him and Keith throws himself into the couch, arms instantly wrapping around his boyfriend’s shoulders.

“Don’t try to get out of this by bein’ cute.” Tex warns. Keith just snuggles against Shiro more. “Nope. No, don’t- Not the eyes, Keith, you know it works!"

“I don’t see what the big deal is.” Krolia points out, absently ushering her husband towards the dining area and away from where Keith had just ensured his victory through big puppy eyes.

“The problem,” Tex starts, heaving a deep breath, “is that all of you Galra have a death wish.”

Krolia only raises her brows, looking appalled before she smirks. “Says the man who runs back into a burning building to rescue a kitten.”

Tex could only freeze and stare slowly at Krolia.

She is the most beautiful creature he's ever seen, the woman he loves with all his being and the mother of his child.

She also happens to think that piloting a self-destructing ship is fun.

He declares, “You win this time, gorgeous.”

Krolia leans forward, their noses touching. “I win everytime, my love.” she says with a smug grin, and steals a kiss from his lips before pulling away to look at the feast on the dining table.

“Keith, Shiro! Get over here before the food gets cold.” she calls as Tex retrieves drinks from the fridge.

“Coming!” Keith calls back. He’s still snuggled against Shiro, so it’s easy to lean forward and ask quietly, “Are you gonna make barbecue for me from now on?”

Shiro tilts his head so they can press their foreheads together. “That’s what a good mate does.”

“Oh?” Keith asks, playful. “Then I guess I’m never divorcing you.”

“Ah, I’m very lucky.”

“No, I'm the lucky one.” Keith says. Finally, he pulls back and gets to his feet. “C’mon, they won’t start without us.”

They walk to the dining table hand in hand.

.

.

 

 

Grandmother,

I am sending this message from Earth. (Or Terra, as you call it.) I haven’t had the opportunity to visit that many places yet, but I can already say that it’s a beautiful planet.

I am here with Keith. I believe I've told you about him before. He has become a very dear friend to me. I am staying with his family and they treat me as one of their own.

I learned a new recipe for some delicious Earth food, as well. Now I know that I always say I miss your cooking, but this time, I just miss you.

I think I might try cooking this for you when I come visit home.

 

He sends the message, because watching Keith with his family really did make him miss his own.

They might ask why exactly he is on Earth with a friend and said friend's family.

He'll gladly answer that question when they do.

Chapter Text

The skies are clear, it’s a bright, windy day, and there is so much… green.

“I’ve never been on a farm.” Shiro says, looking out at the hectares of green fields ahead as far as the eye can see.

“Really?” Keith asks, looking up at him through the brim of the hat he borrowed from his father. “Not even in Daibazaal?”

“All farm areas in Daibazaal are far out in the outskirts.” Shiro says. “The only places with this much green that are not farms are the Imperial Palace’s gardens. And I've never been to either of those places.”

“Huh. Well, we gotta make the most of our visit here, then.” Keith says, grinning. “It’s not often we get the chance to go strawberry-picking. Look, Kosmo’s already out there.”

Indeed he is. Kosmo is already out in the field, happily chasing a butterfly.

Keith slings an empty wicker basket over his shoulder, grabs Shiro’s hand and drags him into the rows upon rows of strawberry shrubs.

As they walk, Keith does a quick explanation about the strawberry fruit, how to know if they’re ripe, and how to pluck them from the plant properly. Then they both crouch over one of the bushes and start picking.

Shiro gets the hang of it quickly. On his first pick, he hands the fruit to Keith for inspection. Keith smiles before blowing imaginary dust from it and taking a bite.

Keith sighs. “Mm. Amazing.” He holds out the other half for Shiro. “Here, try.”

Over the past few months, Shiro has gotten used to Keith’s tendency for casual intimacy. Keith likes sharing food, and it’s just another fact about him that Shiro is fond of. This time, he doesn’t blush or think twice about eating the fruit off Keith’s fingers. He still couldn't help the lopsided smile though.

The strawberry smells delicious, and tastes delicious - sweet with a little hint of sour.

“I understand why this is your favorite fruit now.”

Keith laughs. “Yeah? Then let’s go get some more.”

As they fill their basket and move further into the field, Shiro asks, “Did you spend a lot of time here? In your friend’s farm?”

“Not really.” Keith says. “We’re not that close.”

“Really? His mother seemed fond of you.”

Keith shrugs. “Eh, she’s like that with everyone.”

“She… asks everyone what they’ve been up to for the past deca-... year?”

“Yep.”

“And what their parents have been up to?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And she makes everyone sit down and eat home-made treats?”

“Always.”

“And packs a whole bag of it enough for a small squadron to take home?”

“Never fails.”

“And then she gives out baskets and just… tells everyone to go out and get whatever they want from the field?”

“Yes, Shiro, Mrs. McClain does that to everyone.” Keith tips the hat in his head as he looks back to the cozy family house in the distance and smiles fondly. “I told you, she treats me and the others like family.”

Shiro nods. He deposits a few pieces of strawberry on the basket before he looks out to admire the view again.

Across the field, he can see some animals grazing. In speaking of animals-

“Uh, Keith-... Is… Is Kosmo allowed near the animals?”

Keith is busy scrutinizing a strawberry. “Hm? Yeah. Why not?”

“He’s, uh… he’s a hunter, right?”

Keith still doesn’t look up. “Yeah, but he knows better than to hunt farm animals.”

“Okay…” Shiro answers slowly. It’s an effort to take his eyes off the sight of Kosmo prowling around one of the… what did Keith call them? Cows? But the cows doesn’t seem concerned, and Keith trusts Kosmo, so Shiro goes back to picking strawberries.

Then there’s a very high, very loud shriek.

There’s a person running across the field, waving frantically. He shoos Kosmo away and latches protectively on to one of the cows.

Shiro’s ear flicks as he picks up what the person is shouting about.

“Stay away from Kaltenecker, you nasty wolf! You’re not having any piece of her! Or any of my beautiful cows! Where’s your weirdo owner?!”

“Oh, good. He’s here.” Keith says, though he doesn’t sound like he means it.

“That’s… Lance McClain?” Shiro asks, slowly.

“The only.” Keith answers. “Is he everything you expected?”

Shiro takes a moment to think about it. He knows Lance McClain as one of the most famous Terrans in recent date, for his intergalactic career in acting and modeling. He’s a favorite of clothing brands that advocate diverse inter-specie fashion lines. He has also been in films playing either a dashing casanova or an action hero. Shiro knows he wrote a book about his humble beginnings and his rise to fame, and that he’s a social butterfly who often works with the Coalitions as a host for their galas or a handsome face advocating for peace and harmony across the universe.

When Keith had told him that they’ll drop by to say ‘hi’, Shiro didn’t expect they’d end up in a farm, fed by the man’s very hospitable mother and then picking strawberries while they wait for Lance to come back home.

“I didn’t expect anything, really.” Shiro says. “But this is still… different.”

Keith nods in understanding. “He’s good at his job.”

They watch as Kosmo lunges at Lance and licks his face, to which Lance just shrieks again and then begs the wolf to leave him alone.

Keith lets out a little self-satisfied laugh before deciding that his friend has been punished enough. He presses purses his lips and then lets out a unique whistle.

Kosmo stops licking.

Next thing Shiro knows, he and Keith are backing away as Kosmo, Lance and Kaltenecker all blink in before them.

Lance stumbles forward but latches on to his cow for support.

“There you are!” he grits out, pointing an accusing finger at Keith. “Your pet was about to eat my favorite girl!”

“Hi, Lance.” Keith sighs. “It’s good to see you, your home is lovely as always, and your mom told me and Shiro to go strawberry picking while we wait for you. She’s very sweet.”

Lance looks at Keith, then at Shiro, and then back at Keith. “She’s only so nice to you because somehow, she thinks you’re part of the family.”

Keith raises an eyebrow. “I… am, though?”

“Why? Because you’re like second or third cousins with Lotor who is second or third cousins with someone who is also second or third or fourth cousins with Acxa, who is married to my sister?” Lance demands. “No! I don’t even know how to trace that far out!”

He’s right. Shiro got lost somewhere around Lotor’s unnamed second or third cousin. Keith tried to explain that to him on the way over too but they both gave up on that family tree early.

“I mean, who does? Acxa’s my cousin. Veronica’s my cousin-in-law. Simple.” Keith shrugs. “And I just wanted to thank your mom for her well-wishes, because Acxa said that Veronica said she’s really happy for me and my new husband.”

“You just wanted the free strawberries.”

Keith shrugs unapologetically. “You forget the tamales. My squad loves them.”

Shiro nods at that. They do love those tamales.

Lance scowls, then notices that Kosmo is still sniffing at him. “Good for you. Now get your dirty dog away from my cow! Look at her, she’s terrified!”

“Geez, relax.” Keith chuckles. “Kosmo likes Kaltenecker. They’re friends. And look, she's really chill.”

Shiro tilts his head slightly to get a better look at the cow. He doesn't know cow body language,  but he has to agree with Keith. She's just… munching on some grass with what looks very much like a less than impressed look in her eyes.

Lance looks rightly corrected, but he is stubborn. “He’s prowling!”

“He was gonna surprise her but you ruined it.”

Shiro blinks. Oh, that’s what it was? Yeah, it… makes sense.

“That doesn’t make sense! What kinda surprise? Pouncing on her, going straight for her throat?”

At this, Kosmo makes a small wounded sound, and looks at Lance, affronted.

Lance looks back at the wolf, wary. “How… How is he doing that?”

“He can understand you, and he’s offended you thought he’d hurt a friend.” Keith says, starting to glare now.

Shiro has had many moments where he had to physically steer Keith away from someone important but also incredibly stupid,  because they were about to get hurt. He idly wonders if it's time to start planning for another one of those moments now.

Lance frowns, but visibly backs down. “You’re a weirdo, Kogane.”

“I’m on a strawberry-picking date with my boyfriend and my dog. You're the one hanging off a cow, McClain.” Keith points out.

Lance crosses his arms across his chest, slowly standing straight. He makes a show of it, like he's totally not withdrawing from the cow he had been hugging, no, this is all part of very normal human behavior.

With a huff he says, “I don't know what you're talking about.” Keith shakes his head, but Lance lets that pass and nods at Shiro instead. “Is this your Big Galra Husband who everyone absolutely loves, including my very best friend Hunk and the beautiful Princess Allura?”

“His name is not that long, buddy.” Keith says. “It's just Shiro.”

Lance scowls and looks like he's about to start another round of bickering so Shiro stands up and offers his hand. “It's good to meet you, Lance.”

Lance gapes up at the Galra in his full height for a moment before finally shaking his hand. “G-Good to meet you too… big… really big guy.”

He looks at Keith's smug expression before looking Shiro up and down again. “Man, you're like a big tough dude, like Kolivan-styles? Wow.” He looks at Keith. “You and your mom have a type.”

Keith blushes, but holds his ground and scoffs. “Well, at least that type doesn't have us pining after a princess we've known for like a decade.”

Lance's expression darkens. “Low blow.”

“Is it?”

“Yes! I'm not gonna jump on her right after that break-up with Lotor! I'm not that kind of guy...”

“That break-up was... five years ago.”

“I'm patient!” Lance whines, a last minute resort. “Unlike some people, who finds one guy and then runs away to elope.”

This time, both Keith and Shiro blurt out, “We didn't mean to!”

They all fall silent.

A butterfly flies by and Kosmo starts chasing after it again.

“Fine.” Lance says with a resigned sigh. “Yeah, Hunk did tell me about that weird bird alien thing, but he said you're actually dating now?”

“I am courting Keith, yes.” Shiro crouches next to Keith on the grass so Lance wouldn't strain his neck looking back and forth at both of them.

“Courting?” Lance raises a brow, watching the couple. Keith is back scrutinizing a strawberry and Shiro is watching him fondly. “Is that a Galra thing? Acxa and Vee never mentioned something like that. Sounds romantic. Didn't peg you for a romantic, Kogane.”

“I'm not.” Keith says.

“Figures. You gotta have feelings to be romantic.”

Keith chucks dirt and leaves at him.

Lance splutters, shaking them off. “What the quiznack, man?!”

“I have feelings, Lance. Right now, my feelings are ‘Throw Things at Lance McClain, He Deserves It’ .”

Shiro hides his laugh behind a snort.

“Aw, you're laughing. You think he's cute like this, don't you?” Lance points an accusing hand at Shiro. “This is your type? Grumpy and rude half-alien hobo ninja cowboy?”

Shiro shrugs. “I mean, I married him, didn't I?”

Keith looks Lance dead in the eye as he says, “Yeehaw.”

Lance holds on to Kaltenecker as he pretends to throw up. Unfazed, Keith bites another half of a strawberry before passing the other half to Shiro.

“Gross. You're both gross.” Lance says, giving up for the meantime, slumping next to them on the grass and picking through their basket. “How do the others stand you?”

“They adore us. We're adorable.” Keith says, tossing another strawberry towards the basket. Lance catches it and tries to eat it but Shiro very gently plucks it from his fingers and puts it where it belongs with a smile.

Lance just glares before turning to the strawberry plants and picking his own.

Grudgingly, he tosses some to their little half-full basket as well.

After a while, Lance coughs. “So… uh. Keith.”

“What.”

“Uh. You… Have you... seen Allura lately?”

Shiro looks to Keith in time to watch him heave a long, heavy sigh. Keith looks back at him and sends him a ‘Do I really have to?’ look. Shiro only smiles and plucks a stray leaf from his hair.

“What… What’s with the sigh?” Lance demands. “What’s with the being sappy together? Do you two know something?”

They hear a voice calling from the distance.

“Lance! Put Kaltenecker back! She’s eating the fruit!”

Lance gapes as he turns to call back to his mother. “It’s Keith’s wolf’s fault! Make him put her back!”

“They’re guests! You put her back!” The woman then waves sweetly at them. “Keith, Shiro, you two stay for dinner, okay?”

.


 

.

On the way home, Shiro says, “You said you and Lance weren’t close.”

Keith shrugs. “Yeah. We’re not.”

“You’re good friends, though.”

“...No.”

“You listened to him talk about Princess Allura for two whole hours.” Shiro says, chuckling. “I think you like him a little bit, after all.”

Keith doesn’t say anything for a while. When he does, he says, “I did it for the strawberries. He’s a good picker.”

“Of course you did.”

.

.

.

 

 

Shiro,

Grandfather and I are doing well. The photos you sent last time were absolutely lovely, as is this package of sweet Terran fruits!

I had to hide them or else Grandfather will eat all of it in one sitting.

Now, dear, please ease our tired old hearts and tell us that while you stayed with your friend's parents, you finally asked for their blessing to court their son.

Ah. See? I bet you are making that one face right now.

Did you really think you can get anything past your grandmother?

 

"Oh."

Keith looks up. "What is it?"

Shiro chuckles, shaking his head. "Grandmother is scary."

Keith leans over to look at the message. Shiro lets him. When Keith finishes reading, he simply grins before going back to his own data-pad. "I love her already."

 

Chapter Text

It had been an uneventful quintant. Shiro and Keith are on their way to the dining hall, sharing a data-pad to check out the specs of a new, experimental fighter-class spacecraft when Keith's comms line chimes.

He responds as soon as he checks the name. “Thace?”

The call is private, so Shiro doesn't hear whatever the other commander says, but he watches as Keith stops in his tracks, eyes wide. Shiro stops too. After a moment, Keith nods.

“I’m on my way. Thanks, Thace.”

He hangs up and turns the other way, taking off into a jog.

“Shiro. Med bay.” is all he says, voice clipped and urgent.

Med bay? That rarely meant good news. Shiro doesn’t ask questions and simply follows.

Keith practically barges inside the med bay, demanding the nearest attendant, “Where is he?”

There’s a voice that Shiro doesn’t recognize.

“Keith?”

They both turn towards the source and Shiro sees an unfamiliar Galra, covered in bandages but sitting upright on one of the beds. Ulaz is standing by the bedside, busy running diagnostics on a console.

The Galra brightens up and grins. “Keith!”

Keith scowls as he charges forward. “You!”

For a tick, Shiro thinks that Keith is about to attack the wounded Galra.

That’s not what happens, of course. Shiro watches as Keith throws his arms around the other Galra’s neck, and the Galra in turn scoops him up in his heavily-bandaged but steady arms, propping Keith up enough to be seated safely by the edge of the bed. They both let out a content sigh as they settle into the embrace.

“You scared the quiznak out of me.” Keith grumbles, hugging tighter.

The Galra chuckles breathlessly, patting Keith’s back. “Ah, little star is here and cutting off my airways. Now I really feel that I am home.”

Keith only clings more, and the Galra purrs.

This time, Ulaz speaks. “Regris is doing fine, Keith. Frankly, at the moment, I am more concerned about you breaking his ribs.”

That convinces the two to let go, but Keith doesn’t get up from his perch on the bed, and Regris resorts to carding his fingers through Keith’s hair instead.

Regris . The name rings a bell in Shiro’s head. Keith had mentioned him once or twice. They had been frequent partners during Keith’s first deca-phoebs with the Blade and both rose through the ranks together although with different specialties. Last time Keith mentioned him, he only said that Regris is in deep undercover for several phoebs.

He’s back now, apparently.

“Thace told me you just went dark. We didn’t hear anything from you for several quintants.” Keith tells his old partner, frowning. “Don’t you dare scare us like that again, Reg.”

Keith’s hand clutches on the medical gown, shaking slightly. Regris puts a large hand over it and smiles softly. Now Shiro can see that he does look very tired. “You were worried about me, little star?”

“Of course I was.” Keith whispers.

“Well, as you can see, I made it back. In one piece, too.” He chides. “I haven’t seen you in over a deca-phoeb and you’re the only one who hugs me. Come here.”

Keith lets himself be pulled close. “Ulaz is not a hugger, huh?”

“He’s not.” Regris laughs.

“I do not hug my patients, no thank you.” Ulaz confirms.

“Not even after they came back from a traumatizing deep undercover mission?” Regris asks pityingly. He noses Keith’s hair, taking a deep breath. Then he stops, brows furrowing. He draws back slightly and blinks at Keith.

“What?” Keith asks.

Regris leans forward and sniffs his hair. “You smell different.”

Ulaz coughs. When he gets their attention, he tips his head towards Shiro.

Regris looks, probably noticing Shiro for the first time. Keith looks like he just remembered that Shiro is in the same room.

As for Shiro, he also remembers that he’s in the same room. “U-Um. Go on? Don’t... mind me?”

“Oh. Yeah.” Keith turns back to Regris. “That’s Shiro. My boyfriend.”

“Boy-... You mean… your mate?”

“Not yet. But he’s courting me.”

Regris stares. “Courting- You let someone court you?”

Ulaz coughs again. “They’re married.”

Both Shiro and Keith whine. “Ulaz!”

“Married?!” Regris exclaims. “I go undercover for a deca-phoeb and when I get back, the love of my life is married to another Galra?!”

Shiro freezes, but Keith just scoffs. “I’m not the love of your life, Regris. My name is not Killbot Phantasm.”

Killbot-... Isn’t that... a video game-?

Regris raises a hand to make a point, but couldn’t find one. He pats Keith’s head. “You’re a close second, little star.” Then he frowns, quickly withdrawing his hand. “You were letting me scent you!” He looks at Shiro. “You were letting me scent him?”

Shiro shrugs helplessly. “You… look like you had a rough time…?” When Regris looks at him like he’d grown two heads, he clears his throat and stands straighter. “And... I have no right to stop Keith from caring for and comforting his friends.”

Shiro means it, though he’d be lying if he says it didn’t concern him, that there is another person who so openly declares Keith as the (second) love of his life-

“So… you are married…” Regris says, slowly. “An arranged marriage? I don’t think I’ve met you, Shiro - which family did you say you were from?”

“He’s not royal.” Keith says. “And it’s not arranged. We just... got ourselves married.”

Shiro couldn’t help but chuckle. Yes, they did indeed simply got themselves married. Keith has always had a very accurate way with words.

Regris blinks. “Before establishing a mating bond?”

“It’s a long story. Just… that. Legally, we are married.” He pauses, looking up at his former partner. “Do you know what that means for you, Reg?”

Regris stares at him, eyes widening. “Little star…”

Keith nods.

Shiro waits with baited breath. Should he really be witnessing this? Keith letting down a Galra who seems to be sincerely fond of him-

Regris laughs as he clasps Keith’s arms. “This is great!”

“I know!” Keith says, excited. In a good way.

What.

“Gods, you- Keith!

“I know!”

They hug again, this time actually bouncing happily together in the bed.

Also, it turns out Regris has a tail. Said tail is currently swinging back and forth happily.

Shiro looks to Ulaz for some sort of explanation.

Ulaz is watching the two younger Blades with a tired expression. When he sees Shiro’s confused look, he only shrugs.

“My father will finally stop pushing me to court you!” Regris says, giddy.

Keith laughs. “Yes! My mom says a lot of the others stopped asking about me, too!”

“Others ask about you?” Shiro asks.

Keith looks at him and shrugs. “A few.”

“A few?” Regris repeats, laughing. “You’re one of the most eligible royals in Daibazaal. Well… were.”

“Ew, no.”

“I’m less than a quarter royal and my father has been insisting I court you since I was… fourteen deca-phoebs?”

Keith shrugs again. “Didn’t work.”

Regris nods solemnly. “Didn’t work.”

“It comes as part of being an un-mated, unmarried royal-born Galra.” Ulaz explains to Shiro, who is still watching the two in confused fascination. “More so for Keith, as he is Krolia's only kit, therefore the only heir. He didn’t tell you about his long list of suitors?”

Shiro thinks about it. Keith never mentioned any past relationships, he said there were none. Shiro knew the other Blades found his boyfriend attractive, but they were too intimidated to try courting. He also knew Keith and Krolia hold quite a high position in their society, though they were very non-traditional about it.

The suitors, though... that is new information.

“No...” Shiro answers. Because Keith never mentioned it, and he had no reason to think about it, himself. Neither of them were really all that concerned about this side of Keith’s celebrity.

“I don’t like talking about it. Mom and I are both too busy to worry about that.” Keith says. “I don’t care for any of them, anyway.”

Regris makes a wounded noise.

“You don’t count, buddy.”

Ulaz clears his throat. “Kolivan is on his way for a quick briefing. He will probably ask to clear the room when he arrives.”

“Oh. We should get going, then.” Keith says. “Catch up soon, Reg?”

“Of course, partner.” Regris says. He seems to consider first before he looks to Shiro. “Uh… I… You won’t mind…? I’m sorry, it’s just… been so long since I’ve been with... anyone...”

Shiro looks at him in question for a moment, not quite understanding what he means to ask. Then he notices the other Galra’s arms, raised towards Keith but keeping a hesitant distance.

Oh.

Keith looks at him too, expression open.

Shiro nods at them. “Of course.”

He watches as the two hug again, as Regris nuzzles Keith’s neck affectionately and Keith rubs his back. It’s intimate, but not in any romantic sense. It’s a gesture of comfort, a welcome home.

Shiro finds that he really does not mind it, not at all. If anything, he feels… relieved. The Blades always try to appear as tough and disciplined as possible. It’s nice to know they can be understanding and open about one’s vulnerabilities like this.

They bid Regris and Ulaz goodbye, and greet Kolivan when they meet him on their way out.

.


 

.

Later, they retire to Keith’s quarters and curl up together on the couch, Keith sitting on Shiro’s lap as they watch holo-vids of cute Earth animals.

“Keith?”

“Hm?”

“Regris going dark with no contact… Is that why you’ve been distracted lately?”

Keith nods. “A bit. Sorry, I know you worried about me. I couldn’t tell you why. Mission details were confidential, only very few of us had clearance for them.”

“I understand.” Shiro says, nosing the top of Keith's head. He frowns slightly as he notices the unfamiliar scent mixed in with Keith’s, but he doesn't comment in it. “You two were close?”

Keith seems to read his mind as he tilts his head to look directly at him. “He’s my first friend here in the Blades. We were partners all the way to being promoted to lieutenant. He’s from lower nobility, we see each other during fancy balls and stuff too. So yes, we’re kinda close.”

Shiro nods. “His father wanted him to court you. If… If he had asked, before-”

“I’m gonna stop you there, big guy.” Keith says. He has an amused little smile on his lips as he scratches Shiro's ear gently. “He would never. Regris is… not into those stuff.”

Shiro blinks.

“He likes video games, music, computers and other nerdy shit. That’s his life. He doesn’t do the whole romance thing.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Also… thank you.” Keith says, reaching up to press a hand to Shiro’s cheek. “I got Ma’s ears and not her nose, but I know scent’s a big deal for Galra. Thanks for letting me help comfort my friend.”

“Keith.” he sighs, smiling. “Of course I’ll let you. You’re your own person. I’m not going to be a territorial, possessive mate. You were helping a friend, I understand that.”

Keith smiles back. “Okay. We’re good?”

Shiro leans down, kissing him softly. “We’re good.”

Keith steals a couple shorter kisses before he settles back to his seat and his data-pad. Shiro holds him a little bit tighter as he nuzzles the side of his head and down to his neck.

“Why does your friend call you the love of his life?” Shiro asks absently. No hint of jealousy or demanding, only curiosity.

“Oh, that’s an inside joke. His father kept giving him ‘advice’ for courting eligible Galra, and one of those advice is to declare his undying love.”

Shiro chuckles. “Okay. I learned so much about you today, though. Do many people call you ‘little star’? I thought it was just your mother.”

“Ugh.” Keith groans. “Not really. Reg thought it was cute that Ma still calls me ‘little star’, like a kit. So he started calling me that too, to tease me. It was effective, I always got annoyed. It kinda grew on me, though.”

“So… you don’t hate it?”

There's a pause.

“Shiro. Are you planning to call me ‘little star’? Like my mom does?”

He drops a kiss to Keith’s neck first. “It… It’s nice…”

“No.” Keith pouts.

“How about something else?”

Keith turns to look at him. “Why do you have to call me anything ?”

Shiro looks away, awkward, as he tries to answer. “I just… you… you call me ‘babe’ all the time. It’s fine in Earth language for you, but it’s strange in Galran for me because we don't have informal versions of words and I’d have to use the word for ‘infant’...”

Keith chuckles. “Oh, yeah. That’ll be so weird.” He shifts his position, so that he’s straddling Shiro instead and they are face to face. Shiro easily adjusts his hold, wrapping his arms around Keith’s waist. “Do you really wanna call me a corny Galran nickname?”

“I want to… try.”

“Okay. What do you got in there? Hit me.”

“My heart?”

“Sappy.”

“Cherished one?”

“Sappier.”

“Dear witch?”

“What.”

“It’s from that old Galran fairy tale about an emperor who fell for a wicked druid-”

“Okay, next.”

“I don’t have anything else- Lover?”

Keith smirks. “Can you say that? In public - like, can you say that out loud?”

Shiro groans and hunches forward, hiding his blush in Keith’s shoulder. He breathes deeply and nuzzles Keith’s neck again.

“...also, you said that me being scented by someone else isn’t a big deal, but you’ve been going at my neck the whole night.” Keith points out, teasing. Shiro nips lightly at said neck in retaliation, and Keith  squeaks . “Shi-! Did you bite me?!”

“Only a little.” Shiro says, grinning. “I didn’t know you could make that sound.”

“Jerk.” Keith grumbles, half-heartedly shoving his face away. “When will you get enough of my neck?”

“I don't know. Never?” Shiro chuckles, simply going to pepper kisses on Keith’s face.

“Oh my God, you’re worse than Kosmo.” Keith says, laughing and just letting Shiro have his way.

Gradually the kisses turn from playful to sweet to tender, until Keith is catching one with his lips, and letting Shiro guide him to lie back down on the couch.

He's breathless when he opens his eyes and looks up to see Shiro hovering over him, looking at him with dark cheeks and bright eyes.

“H-Hey.”

“Starlight.”

Keith blinks. “What?”

“Can I call you ‘starlight'?” Shiro asks, soft and affectionate.

Oh.

That's…

Still sappy, but-

“Why?”

Shiro swallows, looking somewhere else like he'll find an answer there. “Because you're beautiful? Like starlight? I thought, your eyes? They look like the universe. Whole galaxies in them. But I'm pretty sure you don't want me to call you universe, or galaxy-”

Keith stares.

“Oh. That sounded stupid out loud. I-”

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

Keith reaches up, fingers curling behind Shiro's neck. When he speaks, it's in a whisper. “Let's start small.”

“Starlight?”

“Mm.” he pulls the other down for a kiss. When they break apart, he says, “I love you.”

It's the first time he says it.

Shiro closes his eyes and leans down. They breathe together.

He's smiling as he says, “I love you too.”

.

.

.

 

Shiro,

You made Grandmother and I very happy that you've found someone you want to be your life mate.

Now, I was out drinking with my friends last night when we came across some Blade of Marmora agents. They seem to be taking a break from their duties.

I mentioned to them that my grandson is one of them, and from there, we had the most interesting conversation going.

So.

Kit.

When were you going to tell Grandmother?

Don't get me wrong, young one. I am not angry.

All I ask is make sure to let me know when you are going to tell her.

I would like to be there when she finds out, so I can capture the look on her face.

Say hi to your lovely husband for me!

 

"Oh."

"What is it this time?"

"Oh, Mother of Gal."

Keith drapes himself on Shiro's shoulder and reads the message.

He snorts.

"I'm gonna call to say hello."

"Keith."

Chapter Text

Of course it would happen eventually.

How did Shiro not see it coming?

“Your first imperial gala! I mean, it’s not even one of the big ones, but still! Are you nervous?”

He looks down at Romelle who is fastening the complicated ties in his Galran robes. He doesn’t understand what she’s doing. His eyes could hardly track the way her fingers were moving right now. He’s worn traditional wear before, being raised by grandparents like his, but he never had anything this fancy. 

Fancy. And expensive. It’s for royalty, after all.

“I am nervous, yes.” Shiro admits. “I never saw myself attending any of these things, at all.”

“Don’t say that out loud in front of a journalist, a microphone or a camera. You seem like a private person, so you are going to regret that, very very much!” she says, voice chipper and smile bright despite the ominous warning.

Shiro gulps. “Okay.”

The door of the suite swishes open and then both turn to see… something… walk in.

“Quiznak, I just got here and I already wanna leave!” says the thing. "Why did I let Mom talk me into this..."

Shiro is sure there’s a… person… behind the mess of fabric, bags, boxes, papers, data-pads, computer consoles, tools and stuffed animals that just entered the room, with three differently-colored fuzzy space caterpillars hovering after it.

“Hi, Katie.” Romelle greets, not even looking up from fixing Shiro’s attire.

“Rommie, s’that you? Am I in the right room? This is Keith’s room, right? Matt didn’t prank me and send me the wrong directions?”

“You’re in the right place. Keith’s getting dressed. You should, too.”

There’s a loud groan and the creature named Katie hobbles towards a nearby couch and dumps all their belongings in it.

Katie is revealed to be a young woman, Terran, with short messy brown hair and lopsided glasses, still wearing rumpled clothes and a lab coat. She turns to them and blinks. “Oh, hey, you’re not Regris.”

“I am not.” Shiro says, smiling. “I’m Shiro.”

"Oh, you. Pidge, at your service." she nods, looking him up and down. "You can call me Katie after you tell me all the dumb stuff Keith's been up to lately."

Shiro chuckles. “It's nice to meet you, Pidge. Keith did tell me a lot about you."

"Yeah? Good things, I hope.”

“You wish!” Keith calls out from one of the suite’s many adjoining bedrooms.

Shiro isn't even sure where Keith really is. Keith had told him they’d have a room in the palace - and it turns out it’s a whole wing .

“Show yourself, Kogane!” Katie calls back. She grins at Shiro. “Good to finally meet you, husband-boyfriend. You clean up nice.”

“Excuse you, Shiro always looks nice.” Romelle says, patting down the robes one last time. She stands back to take in her handiwork and claps her hands giddily. “Oh, you look like a Galran prince!”

Katie whistles. “Wow. Yes, he does.”

Shiro blushes, looking down. “You’re both too kind.”

“No, they’re right.”

Keith strides in the room then, in his own expensive robes, hair braided intricately, the golden hoops on his wrists letting out a soft chime while he’s busy putting on an earring.

Shiro had thought he’d gotten a better hold on himself when he saw Keith dressed up like this the first time, back in that trip to Fluv.

It turns out he’s wrong.

He could only stare and… well… stare.

Keith smirks at him. It serves nothing but to bring Shiro’s attention to his perfectly-painted lips. “Like what you see, babe?”

“Holy shi- Is he flirting? God. He’s flirting. I never thought I’d ever see ninja-cowboy flirt. KeithKoganeisflirtingwithsomethingthat’snotaknifeoraplaneIcan’tdealwiththis.” Katie blurts out in one breath.

Keith frowns at his friend. “Thank you for your support, Pidge.”

“Love you too, Keith.” she says, then grabs one of the bags from the messy heap on the couch. “Rommie, help put me in a pretty dress too.”

“I can’t, sorry, Katie. I have event stuff to check up on!” Romelle says, already swiping furiously at her data-pad and walking away. “See you guys later!”

Shiro snaps out of it long enough to thank her for helping with his robes, but then he looks at Keith and he’s lost again.

Katie groans and heads off to a random room on her own.

“Call if you need help.” Keith calls after her.

She stops in front of one of the doors and asks, “Do some little tiny braids for my hair?”

Keith gives her a thumbs up. Then she’s gone. He looks up when Shiro steps forward and takes his hand.

Keith grins up at him. “You look great.”

Shiro lets out a breathless laugh, shaking his head as he takes the sight of Keith in. “You look perfect.”

Keith scrunches up his face, pushing him back half-heartedly. “Shiro!”

“What?” Shiro chuckles, not moving away. He brings Keith’s hand up and presses a kiss to his fingers. “I mean it, starlight.”

“Geez.” Keith looks away, pouting. “Stop that… thing, with your face.”

“My face?” he blinks, worried. “Is there something-”

“Nothing. Nothing! Your face is fine. It just does this… smolder thing.”

“Smolder?”

Keith nods, still avoiding looking directly at his boyfriend’s face. “Yeah. Don’t make me blush.”

Shiro grins. “I make you blush?”

“Shiro. Stop.”

He looks concerned, now. “You look even more beautiful when you blush, though-”

“I-! How do you just say things like that?!”

“Things like what?”

“Dammit. You don’t even know you’re doing it.”

“Doing what?”

Keith gapes at him this time, but before he could answer, they hear Pidge call out, “Keith! I’m stuck!”

They both laugh lightly at that, and Keith sighs. “I should go help her.”

Shiro leans down and Keith stands on tip-toes as they share a short kiss.

Pidge shouts again. “Are you making out in there? You’ll ruin your makeup!”

Keith rolls his eyes, and Shiro lets him go.

.


 

.

Keith helps Pidge wrestle with the dress, and then he starts the battle with her hair. Like everything else between them, it’s all quietly methodical as they go about their own tasks. Keith braids, and Pidge applies what little makeup she’s comfortable with.

“Hey, Keith?”

“Yeah?”

“You and your boyfriend look so in love, you might as well stop saying you got married by accident. Because no one will believe you.”

Keith looks back into Pidge’s eyes in the mirror.

He chuckles as he goes back to braiding. “I’ll take that as your approval.”

“It damn well is.” She rolls her eyes. “He’s got those heart eyes for you, Kogane. It’s just mean to think you’re not perfect for each other.”

Keith smiles, soft and relieved. “Thanks, Katie.”

“Anytime, ninja-cowboy.”

.


 

.

When they return to the main suite, they find Shiro sitting in one of the couches, petting one of the space caterpillars in his lap while talking enthusiastically with a familiar face.

Matthew Holt jumps to his feet when he sees them.

“Keith-cat!" he exclaims, smile bright and arms spread wide. "Oh wow, no wonder my boy Shiro here can’t stop talking about you. You look gorgeous!”

Keith couldn’t help but grin a little as he throws his arms around his friend. “Long time no see, Matt- Whoa!” He yelps when Matt lifts him up and twirls him around, then glares as soon as Matt puts him back on his feet. “Do you always have to do that?” He pats his hair to make sure it didn’t get ruined.

Matt drops a kiss to his forehead and smirks. “I’ll stop doing that when you grow taller than me.”

“Jerk.” Keith says, shoving him playfully.

“Hey, don’t ruin my suit.” Matt says, patting down said suit. He leans sideways to look past his friend. “And who is that perfect specimen of pure ethereal alien beauty with you?” He asks, grinning toothily. “The prettiest Arusian I’ve ever seen-”

Pidge grabs one of the stuffed toys from her couch - because that’s hers now, yes - and flings it at her brother. “Fuck off, Matt.”

Matt gasps dramatically. “Oh, I’ve never heard one curse before!”

She doesn’t look up from where she’s rummaging for something through her clutter of belongings but Matt does get another toy thrown at him.

“Oh, it’s Katie! Didn’t recognize you without the lab coat, baby sister.”

Pidge just shakes her head, but lets out a triumphant “Hah!” when she manages to retrieve a pair of strappy shoes. She plops down on a plush chair to put them on.

Keith walks towards Shiro and lets himself be pulled into the other’s lap. “I see you’ve met Matt.”

Shiro noses his cheek briefly and then smiles. “Actually, I know Matt.”

“What, really?”

“Keith-cat, you didn’t tell me your instant husband is my friend Shiro, the hero.” Matt says, sitting back on the couch with them.

“Wait, he’s that Shiro?” Pidge asks.

“Yep.”

“Oh, wow. Nice.”

Keith blinks at his friends, then as his boyfriend. “Wait, how do you know each other?”

“Shiro was mine and dad’s pilot when we went to gather rock samples in Kerberos for dad’s research.” Matt says.

Keith looks to Shiro, who smiles. “It was one of my first missions, before I got assigned to your squad.”

“I see.” Keith nods, taking that in. Simple escort missions were commonly given to new Blade inductees when they start out, to get them used to pilot-and-escort duties, usually with Coalition representatives. A short and harmless research trip to a quiet, uninhabited planet’s moon is safe enough for a novice’s solo mission.

“We got attacked by rogue pirates but got out safe because of our trusty Blade escort.” Matt adds. “So me and dad kinda owe Shiro our lives.”

Keith looks to Shiro, grinning. “You didn’t tell me you were a hero.”

“I’m not.” Shiro says with an awkward chuckle. “I was just doing my job.”

“Still, man.” Matt shakes his head. “You’ve got that standing invite to dinner at our house.”

“You can take Keith.” Pidge chimes in.

Keith narrows his eyes at the siblings. “Like I haven’t been having dinner at your house since we were in diapers?”

“Sorry, Keith-cat.” Matt sniggers, poking Keith's nose. “Shiro is our favorite Galra now.”

“Ouch.” Keith deadpans. “Even Colleen?”

Matt nods solemnly. “Uh-huh, even Mom.”

“Okay, now I’m really hurt.”

They all turn when the door hisses open.

“Ay, por dios! I’ve been looking everywhere!” Lance exclaims, throwing his hands up. “You-” he pauses, quickly counting the people in the room. “Yes, good. You four get off your asses, now .”

Matt checks the time in his data-pad. “Slow down, McClain. What’s up?”

“The party is about to start.” Lance says, face turning serious.

“And?”

“Allura will be there. I can't make a fool of myself!”

“Actually, you can. You're really good at it.” Keith says, leaning back to snuggle closer to Shiro.

Lance scowls at them. “Believe me, I wanna ask nice people, like Hunk or Romelle, but they're busy. So I got no choice but to go with you jerks.” He stops. “Except you, Shiro. You're cool.”

Shiro looks at the others awkwardly before saying, “Thanks?”

“Please?” Lance whines. “You're my best friends! My only hope! You guys gotta stop me from messing up.”

“Aw, Lance, buddy.” Pidge says, sounding touched, hands flying over her heart. Then she grins, smug. “You need more than four people for that. ”

Lance stares at her for a moment before he straightens up and huffs. “I know you're just being mean. I'm gonna walk off now and you will follow me because you actually love me. Okay. Bye.”

Then he does exactly as he said.

Matt looks at the others. “So do we give him that satisfaction, or...?”

No one answers.

After a while, Pidge sighs. “Dammit, I feel bad. Let's go.”

They go.

.


.

The gala is extravagant, and everything is shiny, and all the guests were practically glowing.

Shiro realizes too late that he got so busy worrying over what he looked like, staring at Keith in awe, and chatting with Matt that he completely forgot about a very important part of the gala: the guests.

He didn’t know any of these people.

Okay, no - he knows them, have seen them on broadcasts and in the news.

They don’t know him.

And he and Keith were supposed to mingle?

Lance had somehow managed to find himself with an impeccably-dressed, breathtaking Princess Allura in his arm, the Holt siblings flanking the two as they go around the room.

As for Shiro, he has found himself stuck with Regris when Krolia pulled Keith aside to talk to her son about something.

Getting stuck with Regris has its perks, though.

“A lot of these people know Keith, and they’ll try to talk to you. Most of them are okay. Most. Not included there is... ah. The big guy. You know him?"

Shiro looks and nods. "Lord Sendak?"

"The only. You know how he is?"

"I've heard that he's... a lot. Keith doesn't like him."

"Yeah, can't stand him, so just better steer clear."

"Alright."

"Next, see that guy? Tall, thin, looks slimy? That’s Throk, he thinks he’s better than everyone, including the Emperor. He doesn’t really like hybrids, likes stirring up trouble. Just stay away from him altogether too.”

Shiro nods. Yes. Yes, of course, he can remember that.

“That lady he’s with, though, Commander Gnov. She’s scary, but fair. Just hold your ground and try not to look totally terrified if she talks to you.” Regris continues looks around, humming. “Oh. Governess Dayak - you see her heading for you, you run.”

“Uh... why?”

“She’s a governess, Shiro. We just run. Even the Emperor does.”

“Okay.”

“Over there. You already know Thace, that guy he’s talking to is Morvok. He’s lower nobility and he always tries to charm Keith during these events. Keith knows how to handle him, but do not - I mean it - do not mention his height.”

Shiro looks at the small Galra man who barely reached Thace’s chest. “Got it.”

“Finally, you see that ancient-looking Galra there by that plant? Three eyes, blue robes?”

“Yes?”

“Avoid him too.”

“Who is he?”

“My father.” Regris shrugs. “He thinks you beat me to Keith, so hates you.”

Shiro takes a deep breath. “Alright.”

A pair of hands cling to Shiro’s arm and a new voice joins in. “What are we talking about?” Keith asks.

“Regris’s father hates me.” Shiro answers.

“Oh.” Keith says. After a bit of consideration, he asks, “Want me to fight him, husband? For your honor?”

Shiro chuckles, “No, but thank you for the offer. I am flattered.”

“Ah, he’s heading this way. I think I’ll take him off your hands.” Regris says, sounding resigned.

“Thank you, Regris.” Shiro says with an earnest sigh of relief. Regris simply gives his arm a firm, reassuring pat.

“He looks grumpier than usual, Reg.” Keith remarks. “Good luck.”

With that, Shiro watches as Regris strides across the hall to intercept his father, saying something as he steers the older Galra towards another direction.

Keith turns to look up at Shiro. “How are you holding up?”

“I’m… good.” Shiro says, nodding slowly. “The people I’ve talked to have all been nice so far. But everything is just… very... fancy. I feel out of place.”

“You and me both.” Keith laughs. “But don’t worry so much. You’re tall and handsome and dressed to kill. Just don’t slouch, and you look like you were born in this.”

“I do?”

“Yes. And I know you don’t believe that - so let me tell you, on my way around, I’ve been approached by at least five other people-”

Shiro begins to frown, but Keith reaches up to poke his cheek.

“-and for the first time, they’re not asking me for a dance, or a date - they’re asking me where I found you .”

“What? Me?

“Shiro, you’re a catch. Shut up and accept the truth.”

Shiro smiles at him, fond.

“-and stop with the smolder.”

“I’m not doing anything!”

“You so are.” Keith says. Then his eyes catch something. “I see Hunk’s cakes. C’mon.”

He takes Shiro’s arm and pulls him towards one of the food tables. “I don’t see Krolia anywhere. Is she very busy?”

“There are a lot of Coalition members in attendance. More than they expected, so yes, she’s busy making sure all the, uh, tourists, are accommodated. Allura, too. Lance turned out to be a big help, come to think of it.”

Shiro looks across the room and sees Allura and Lance taking selfies with guests whose specie he’d never even seen before.

When they get to the food, he lets Keith pile up their plate with desserts.

“Oh, Mom said the Queens of Fluv are expected to arrive too. She said if we see them, to welcome them warmly, since it’s their first time in Daibazaal.”

Shiro smiles. “Are the kits coming?”

“Not sure, but they like showing their kits off, right? Maybe some are coming? Or… God. If all twelve of them came. Wow.”

Keith bites on a cupcake and nods in approval before offering it to Shiro to try too. Shiro has gotten used to that and goes with it all-too happily. As expected of Hunk, it’s a pure treat. They pass a bit of time this way, munching on snacks and sweets, Shiro holding the plate for both of them and Keith picking what they’re trying next.

Some guests pass by, greet Keith and introduce themselves to Shiro, congratulating them on the wedding, saying they’re very happy for the two but must admit that they were surprised to hear about it.

They tell the same excuse everytime - that they wanted the whole thing to be quick because of their schedules, and private because “You know how everyone gets with weddings, they always make it a bigger deal than it is, right?” . Mostly, they get nods of understanding.

A stern-looking Galra woman stops by and spares them a smile. “You are looking great today, Keith.” She opens her arms and Keith indulges the short hug with a smile back. “I’m happy to see you finally picked a mate, kitling. Good on you, he is a fine Galra. What is your name again, young one?”

Shiro clears his throat before speaking. “It’s Shiro, milady.”

“Shiro. Everyone is saying it’s a waste that Keith chose a commoner. Don’t listen to them, you two are young, and can ensure the future of your line just fine.”

Shiro nods politely. Keith smiles again. “Thank you, ma’am. We appreciate it.”

She pats Keith’s cheek once and then disappears in the crowd.

“Babe.” Keith steps closer to Shiro and gestures for him to lean down. When Shiro does, Keith whispers to him, “I don’t know who that was.”

Shiro’s mouth drops open. “Are you serious?” he whispers back.

Keith tries to muffle a giggle behind his hand. “I don’t know half of all these people talking to us.”

Shiro stifles his laugh with a snort, but it’s still too much, and both of them dissolve into barely-contained giggles, huddled close and holding on to each other.

“Ah! I’ve finally found the happy couple.”

They break apart and look up, because they both know that voice.

Emperor Lotor stands before them with a charming, gallant smile.

“Oh, this guy.” Keith says.

Shiro nods, wide-eyed and speechless.

Yes, he’d met Princess Allura. Lance McClain. Hunk Garrett.

Why did it never occur to him that he’d also eventually meet Emperor Lotor?

“Keith. Last time I saw you, you were shouting at me over a holo-call.” Lotor says, raising outstretched arms.

“Because you’re being a dramatic diva.” Keith says, but despite his snarky remark, he steps forward and shares a short hug with his cousin.

When they pull apart, Lotor nods at Shiro. “And you must be Shiro. It’s nice to finally meet my dear cousin's husband.”

“Y-Your Majesty. It’s my honor.” Shiro hurriedly bows, doing his best to make it appear dignified while holding a half-full plate of desserts.

“Oh, please. We’re family. Just call me Lotor.”

Shiro only looks at him, open-mouthed. All he can think about is that his grandmother would freak , if she knew that her grandson is allowed to refer to their Emperor by first name.

“I’ll… try.”

“Please do. It’ll be no worse than all the things your boyfriend calls me.”

Keith hums as he nods. “Mm, yeah. I once called him ‘jerkface’ during a formal dinner.”

Shiro turns to his boyfriend, scandalized, but he quickly gets distracted when Lotor only laughs and then sighs fondly. “I miss your presence during formal dinners, kitling. Why did you stop coming to them?”

Keith shrugs. “Ma banned me after I set Throk on fire, remember?”

“Oh, yes. That.” Lotor nods. “A pity they put it out so quickly.”

At this point, Shiro has given up trying to make sense of all this new information, and decides he’s just in for the ride.

Keith tilts his head as if to look for something behind Lotor. “Where’s your girl gang?”

“You noticed!” Lotor says, grinning proudly. “I am completely free tonight! Someone might have urged Zethrid and Ezor to drink more than usual, and I’ve heard that they left early, very much tangled up in each other. Acxa is on vacation-”

“No, she’s not.” Keith says, looking unimpressed.

Lotor rolls his eyes. “Fine. I bribed Veronica to convince Acxa to go to a week-long vacation... that just so happens to coincide with this event.”

“Dude.”

“Narti is… well, she never goes to these things, I’m sure she’s having a nice night with her cats.”

“Why are you trying to ditch your bodyguards?” Keith asks, looking very confused.

“Well, they… Hm, how do I say this… Like in that Earth movie we watched once… Oh!” Lotor snaps, looking pleased with himself. “They throw off my groove.”

That startles a short laugh out of Keith. “W-What?”

“That reminds me. Have you seen Allura?”

Keith shakes his head, groaning. “Is that it? Are you trying to win her back? After five years?”

“No.” Lotor huffs. “I invited a very special friend of mine, Ven’tar, and… um… I don’t want Allura to talk ill of me-”

“Oh. You don’t want your new girlfriend to meet your ex without you.”

Lotor closes his eyes and heaves a heavy sigh. “...Yes.”

Keith seems to consider before he says, “It’s easy to spot her. She’s with Lance. They’re very shiny when they’re together.”

“Thank you.” Lotor smiles at him fondly. He paused. “Wait, Lance McClain? Are they together ?”

Keith looks to Shiro, and Shiro lets out a pained smile. “I mean… they’re… trying.”

“Oh. Is it like that?”

“It’s like that. It’s cute, but painful for all of us around them.”

Lotor shakes his head, then seems to remember something. “Another reason I was looking for you two...”

“What is it this time?” Keith asks, bordering on whining.

“Patience, kitling.” Lotor says as he reaches into his robes. He retrieves a small box and offers it to Keith. “This is from Mother and Father, for you and your new husband.”

Keith and Shiro look at the box, at each other, and then back at the box.

Lotor smirks. “It’s not a honeymoon suite, Keith. You can’t make me send this back to my parents with a carefully-worded ‘there’s been a mistake’ message.”

“They-... But-...” For the first time in their conversation, Keith is speechless. “Didn’t you tell them-?”

“I tried to, I swear on Daibazaal’s name.” Lotor says. “But they already had it the moment they knew, and when I called to correct them later, they were stressing out because apparently Kova went into labor and they didn’t know how to deliver kittens. I couldn’t possibly distract them from that.”

They both stare at him.

“It was successful, by the way. A full litter of five. I've never seen Father cry so much before.”

Keith and Shiro exchange another look before Keith finally takes the box from his cousin. “Sounds like they’re really having fun in retirement.” he says. “I… still don’t know if we should accept this…”

“Just open it.” Lotor urges, gentle. “I think you’ll change your mind.”

Keith opens the box and his breath catches. Laid carefully in a deep red silk-like material are two crystals, deep purple in color, neatly-carved and roughly the size of Keith’s pinky finger. They remind him of amethysts.

“They’re beautiful.” Shiro says, setting aside their plate to stand behind Keith and look more closely over his shoulder.

“Careful. I was given instructions.” Lotor says. “Both of you, touch one each.”

They both follow the instruction, too curious to question it. The crystals glow dimly. To Shiro, that’s all that happens, but Keith withdraws his hand, surprised. By reflex, Shiro lifts his hand too.

“What just happened?” he asks, frowning down at the crystals and then at his fingers.

“I always forget that you’re quintessence-sensitive.” the Emperor chuckles. “ That , just stored a bit of your quintessence inside the crystals. Now, you try touching the other one.”

Keith does, and slowly, the other one - the first one he touched - glows a beautiful purple.

“They’re a pair.” Lotor explains. “If you touch the other, the one with your quintessence on it will glow, like that. It’s one of Mother’s experiments. You know, her little toys that she makes. I don’t know what she planned to do with these originally, but she told me it’s based on the same concept as your Marmora blades, only, as you can see, they come together.”

“Oh…” Keith breathes, drawing his hand away. The other crystal’s glow fades slowly. “Wow.”

“There’s a note.” Shiro points out. Indeed, there’s a small piece of paper tucked underneath the top cover of the box.

Keith takes it and reads it out loud.

 

Little Keith,

I made these little trinkets for Zarkon and I, before I realized that we are already stuck together most of the time these days and would have little to no need of it. Can you believe that?

However, after hearing of your marriage, I immediately went to dig these back up. I believe they might be of more use with you and your cherished one.

Truly, your uncle and I are very happy for you.

- Honerva (with Zarkon, who is busy looking after Kova and five healthy newborn kittens! Come visit soon!)

 

Keith huffs out a small, fond laugh. “Auntie…”

“It’s got your quintessence now.” Lotor teases. “You can’t give it back.”

Keith chuckles as he tucks the note back in the box and closes it carefully. He clutches it to his chest. “Don’t worry. We won’t.”

“I… don’t know what to say.” Shiro says, feeling choked up. He looks at Lotor and hopes his expression conveys the appreciation he holds for the gesture. “Please tell them ‘thank you’.”

“I will.” Lotor nods, looking very pleased at their reactions.

He starts to speak again, but ends up yelping when something crashes against the back of his legs. He looks down to see a colorful ruffle of feathers emerge from his cape to stand before him, six glass eyes looking right back at him.

“I-... I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to run.” The kit says, shaking slightly. “I was... I was jus’trying to find Master Kee.”

Lotor blinks. Kits aren’t usually brought to these events. And who-

“Well, it seems like you’ve found me, Your Highness.” Keith says, sounds very fond and amused.

The kit gasps and whirls around. Her tailfeathers fluff up as she chirps excitedly and practically latches on to Keith. “Master Kee!”

Keith laughs as he scoops the kit up and settles her in his arms. “It’s nice to see you, Your Highness. But you shouldn't be alone. Where are your mothers?”

“They’re talking to a lot of people, grownup talk. I don’t like grownup talk so I go to find you because moms said you’re here too.” the kit says, cuddling close. “It’s so bright, Master Kee. Everyone is bright but not everyone is glowy. You’re still glowy, though.”

“I am?” Keith asks.

"Yes." The kit nods. “Because you’re bonded with Master Sheero, right? You’re happy. So you’re glowy.”

“Oh. Okay.”

The kit looks up at Shiro and chirps happily. “Master Sheero is glowy too!”

“Thank you, Your Highness. I feel very happy indeed.” Shiro says. The kit reaches for him, so Keith promptly hands her over. She snuggles against Shiro's chest, and giggles when Shiro deliberately purrs in return.

Lotor clears his throat. “I’m guessing this little darling is one of those sweet Fluvakian royal children you made friends with?”

“One of them, yes.” Keith nods, patting down the kit’s rumpled dress.

“Mister, you are also glowy.” the kit tells him.

Lotor raises an eyebrow. “Am I now?”

“Yes.” the kit nods, solemn. She looks around, happy to be so high up. After a while, she tugs at Shiro’s collar. “What’re those?”

They all turn to where the kit is pointing at.

“Oh, those are desserts. Snacks.” Keith answers. He picks up the half-full plate of desserts Shiro had put down earlier. “They’re sweet and they taste really good. Do you want to try?”

The kit eyes the colorful treats in the plate before nodding. “Okay.”

Lotor watches as his cousin feeds the kit in Shiro’s arms and patiently answers her every question. Shiro is content to listen to them, but sometimes he shifts the kit in his arms and chats with her too. Then Keith holds up a small colorful cake, and Shiro beats the kit to it.

The kit squeals. “No! Master Sheero, that’s mine!”

“Well, I am hungry too, your Highness.” Shiro teases.

“Hmp! I’ll be fast with the next.”

“Faster than me?”

“Don’t make this a game.” Keith warns.

This time when he offers up the cake, the kit pointedly pushes Shiro’s face away to get to the piece first. Shiro whines for effect, saying that he’s been defeated. Keith says it's a shame for a warrior to be defeated by a kit. The kit hugs ‘Master Sheero' and says they could share the next cake.

The three laugh together.

Lotor watches, and thinks - he doesn’t need six Fluvakian eyes to see the affection between Shiro and Keith, not at all. One would be blind not to see it, and even then, they’d still hear it - in the way they talk, the fondness in their voices, the sincerity of their laughter.

He shakes his head fondly and quietly excuses himself.

.

.

.

 

Grandmother,

Before anything else, I would like to clarify something.

You probably watched the broadcast of the latest imperial gala. You may have seen that bit with one of Emperor Lotor's cousins, his husband and an adorable Fluvakian kit.

Yes, that was me.

I may have accidentally married into Galra royalty.

 

Shiro pauses and takes a deep breath.

His fingers hover over his data-pad, hesitant to continue.

He looks to his side, to Keith, already sleeping soundly under the softest blankets Shiro had ever touched, his dark purple hair strewn across the pillows. The moonlight streaming from the tall window of the palace makes his pale skin glow. He looks like a dream, and Shiro couldn't resist leaning over to press a kiss to his temple.

Keith stirs a little, but only sighs and burrows comfortably in the pillow.

As Shiro sits back up to continue typing out his message to his grandmother, his eyes catch on the little box on the bedside table, sitting unassuming, beside their Marmora daggers.

It's just what he needs. Shiro goes back to his data-pad and types, and types... and types.

He doesn't re-read it when he's done.

He sends the message.

He also sends a heads-up to his grandfather, as promised.

Chapter Text

“I’m gonna bring strawberries.”

That’s how Keith declares himself, arriving in a blink of light with Kosmo, right in the middle of Shiro’s quarters. The wolf stays only long enough to nose Shiro’s hand and get a short head scratch before blinking out again.

Shiro smiles at Keith, not getting up from his seat in the couch just yet, data-pad still in hand from when he’s reading through old Blade mission logs.

“Hello to you too, starlight.” he greets back. “You’re saying something about-”

“Strawberries.” Keith says, starting to pace. “A basket. Maybe two? You said your grandfather can’t stop eating them, right? What’s your grandmother’s favorite flower? Grandmas like flowers, right? Maybe something new - maybe she’ll like juniberry? They don’t grow here but they’re really pretty. Or… or maybe tea? Nice dinnerware? I don’t really know any grandmas except Lance’s grandma, and she liked all of those...”

Shiro blinks. Is Keith talking about what Shiro thinks he’s talking about?

He sets his data-pad aside, then reaches out to take Keith’s hands and pull him closer.

“Whoa. Alright, let’s slow down.”

Keith comes easily, stopping to stand in front of him. He’s wearing another one of Shiro’s shirts, too big for him, the wide collar sliding down one shoulder. Shiro tugs it back into place.

“What are we talking about?”

Keith shrugs. “Something for your grandma and grandpa when you introduce me to them next week.”

Shiro lets out a small laugh. “What happened to not wanting to win them over with gifts?”

“This is different. You’ve been telling me how excited they are to meet me.” Keith says, brows furrowed and lips curled into a small frown. Shiro has learned to read Keith’s variety of frowns - right now he isn’t upset, he’s just thinking really really hard. “I wanna give them something nice to make up for not introducing myself to them sooner.”

“Make up-? Keith…” Gently, he guides Keith to sit down on his lap. Keith settles snug against him. It’s one of the earliest staples in their relationship, how they both feel most comfortable curled up with each other. “There’s nothing to make up for. You didn’t make a mistake. If anything, I should be the one doing the making up, I kept this from them for too long.”

Keith crosses his arms across his chest. “Fine, but still. I want to bring them something nice. Something they'll like.”

“You know you don’t have to.”

Keith absentmindedly pokes at the dark purple crystal hanging in a chain around Shiro’s neck. “I want to, though. As courtesy. Don’t Galra have a custom like that? Terrans do, when we visit friends and relatives.”

Shiro shakes his head. “Not really. Unless there’s a special occasion, like a name day, or an anniversary.”

Keith sits up straighter then. “What about a promotion? Doesn’t that count?”

Shiro’s eyes go wide before looking down, cheeks darkening slightly. “I… I guess it does.”

“Then it’s settled. I’ll bring strawberries and flowers. And maybe tea, if I can get the delicious Altean ones that don’t require alchemy lessons to make. Besides, didn’t your grandparents say we’ll be having a feast to welcome you home?”

Shiro sighs, smiling fondly. “They did say that.”

“Then it’s perfect for when you tell them the good news-” Keith pauses. “Wait. We’re celebrating more than you coming home. You think I should bring cake?”

Shiro chuckles and holds his raised hand, lifting it to press a soft kiss against his fingers, then to the crystal he’s still holding. Keith doesn’t have to look down to know that his own crystal is glowing under his shirt - he can feel it against his skin, warm, with a faint pulse of quintessence.

“Bring whatever you want, starlight.”

“Maybe chocolates too, and lots of-”

“Don’t overdo it.”

“Okay, then. Just the cake.”

.


 

.

Shiro catches Keith slipping several chocolate boxes in the picnic basket, anyway. It’s followed by a suspicious-looking bottle-

“Keith.”

“Coran said grandpas like nunvil!”

.


 

.

A week later, Keith finds himself walking with Shiro through the narrow but bustling streets of his home sector. A lot of people recognize Shiro and tell him that they're really glad to see him home. When they come across elder Galra, Shiro greets them first, and they call him ‘young Shiro' and ‘our Blade'. Some ask how long he’ll be staying and he answers the same: a few quintants at most. They all ask who Shiro’s “friend” is with knowing smiles, and Keith nods politely at them as Shiro simply says they work together.

“Do I smell like you that much?” Keith whispers.

“I… I can’t tell anymore, to be honest?” Shiro shrugs. “Ulaz said we’re the opposite of subtle.”

Keith huffs. “Whatever. Subtle is for losers.”

Shiro only sends him a fond, amused smile, and Keith returns it, this time taking his hand as they keep walking.

They stop in front of a quaint but cozy little house. The property is gated, with what looks like a little vegetable garden and a small hovercar parked up front.

Shiro lets out a breath. “I know it’s not your mansion-”

“I love it.” Keith says, cutting him off. Shiro looks at him, and there’s a furrow to his brows. He looks back at Shiro with a minute frown. “They’ll like me, right? I know I’m not that great, but I’m… okay. Right?”

Shiro stares at him for a couple of ticks before chuckling. “Keith. Your picture’s already framed and put up alongside the family portraits.” He places his hand on the security pad and the gate opens for them. “They adore you.”

Keith doesn’t look very convinced, but he lets Shiro pull him forward. The front yard isn’t very big, it only takes a few steps before they’re in the front door, which automatically slides open and-

POP!

Both of them freeze at the sudden sound, a rush of something , and then at the tiny, curly, shiny strips of paper that slowly fall all over them.

“WELCOME HOME!” two voices greet them happily.

Shiro blinks, while Keith pulls at one of the strips from his shirt, squinting. “Is this… confetti?”

Shiro looks up to see his grandparents standing giddily in front of them, grins wide and excited, each holding a long... cylindrical... thing…

“Do you like it? We got this strange contraption from the Earth store in the mall! We were told it’s used to welcome guests with a colorful surprise during celebrations.” Grandfather says, proudly brandishing said contraption.

Shiro stares. “Um.”

Meanwhile Keith laughs, delighted. “Party poppers! I didn’t know people still sold these…”

Grandmother beams, shuffling forward. “Do you like it, Keith?”

Keith beams back. “I love it, ma’am. Thank you for the… ah... colorful surprise.”

Grandmother claps her hands before gesturing for him. “Oh, you’re most welcome! Come here, young one, let me look at you.”

Keith takes her extended hand and steps forward. Shiro really took after his grandmother, who stands tall despite her old age, with a sweet face and a pair of big, expressive ears. Keith only reached her shoulders, but she leans down for him.

Her eyes are as kind as her grandson’s, her smile fond. “You look even lovelier than in the photos. No wonder our Shiro is so taken.”

Keith blushes, chuckling awkwardly. “T-Thank you, ma’am. Oh, these flowers are for you.”

She gasps as she takes the little bouquet. “My, my! Are these juniberry blossoms?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“They’re beautiful!” She marvels, looking delighted. “Ah, and no calling me ma’am, now. Call me Rei.”

Keith nods. “It’s good to finally meet you, Rei.”

“Very good. We’ll work that up to ‘Grandmother’ soon.” she nods, squeezing his hands appreciatively before standing straight and finally turning to her grandson. “Now, you .”

Shiro smiles nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m… home?”

“Yes, you are.” Rei nods, taking a step forward and opening her arms. Shiro sighs as he melts into the warmth of his grandmother’s arms wrapped snug and tight around him.

They hug for a full minute, before she pulls back and looks him up and down with a proud smile.

“Look at you, my kitling. You look different.”

“I do?”

“Yes, you are standing straighter and taller, and you look very strong.”

Shiro laughs softly. “Thanks, Grandmother-”

He freezes when her grin extends to show fangs . “It’s the first time you’re back home since joining the Blades, and you come with a potential mate, whom you are married to, who is also royalty. My sweet, sweet kitling. You left two deca-phoebs ago a Blade trainee and you come back a royal ?”

Shiro gulps. Ah, here we go. All he can say is “Uhhh…”

And then she reaches up to flick his ear painfully. “I had to find out through a planet-wide broadcast?! While your grandfather filmed me?! And you drop all this information through a written message! Which I read…. While your grandfather filmed me!”

“It’s a very good reaction.” Shiro’s grandfather tells Keith, sidling up beside him. While he is of a smaller build than his wife and grandson, Shiro must have gotten the white tuft from this side of the family. “I will show you later. It’s good to meet you, Keith. I’m Ryou, grandfather to a disaster.”

“Good to meet you, Ryou.” Keith says, smiling. Ryou is friendly and gentle, and Keith is pleasantly surprised that his voice is very much like Shiro’s. The old Galra reminds Keith of, strangely enough, Thace - calm and collected but with a quick and dry sense of humor. Keith is close with Thace, so he finds it easy to reply, “He’s a pretty cute disaster. I think you did alright.”

“A guy as big as our Shiro, cute?” Ryou laughs. “Thank you, we tried our best.”

They both look to where Rei is still going on about Shiro’s gradually, increasingly worrying and dubious messages over the past phoebs, while Shiro sighs and looks to his boyfriend and his grandfather, big eyes calling for help.

That earns him another flick to his ear.

“Don’t look at them, they won’t help you. When were you going to tell your poor old grandmother? I remember specifically asking you if you’ve found anyone you like in the Blades! And you said, ‘no grandmother, but I have found a very good friend ’ - and then I just learn that you have married this good friend?”

“It was an acci-”

“Honestly, I don’t mind, I am happy for you, but these are one of the things we would have wanted to know right away !”

“Grandmo-”

“Did you know what happened when I found out? I broke the good teacup.”

Shiro gasps this time. “N-Not the good teacup-?”

“Yes, I saw you in that broadcast and I dropped the good teacup! And your grandfather-” at this, she turns to glare at her mate, who only shrugs. “-was only laughing at me and won’t hand me the controls to rewind the broadcast and confirm that it was really you. Then he ran away for the rest of the quintant to avoid answering my questions.”

This time, Shiro is the one who looks at his grandfather in disdain. Ryou looks unrepentant. Meanwhile, Keith is hardly containing his giggles.

“The neighbors were also asking me if that was you, with Ambassador Krolia’s- Is that a scar on your shoulder? What happened? Who did this? Grandmother will make sure they regret it!”

And just like that, she is now fussing over her grandson like he is back to being a kit.

“He got that because your grandson is a hero.” Keith says, catching all their attentions. His smile is soft as he continues, “We were involved in a search and rescue, and he was injured protecting someone. It left a scar because when it was all over, he knew there were people who needed the healing pods more than he did, so he gave way for them.”

Slowly, Rei turns to look back at her grandson, who is looking down, now self-conscious. She sighs and takes him into her arms again, where he goes willing and happy. “Oh, my kitling. We are proud of you and what you chose to do.”

“Thank you, Grandmother.”

“And we are very happy that you’ve found Keith and you brought him home to meet us.”

Shiro only nods against her shoulder, eyes meeting Keith’s, who watches them quietly.

When they pull away, she flicks his ear once more. “You could have told us earlier, though! Seriously! You silly kit...”

Before Shiro could try to apologize again, she only huffs and turns around, smiling sweetly at Keith. “Now, you two get yourselves settled. Dinner will be ready soon, I tried some of Chef Hunk’s recipes from the book that you kits got for me.”

“I’m sure they’ll taste wonderful.” Keith says, then picks up the picnic basket he had left on the floor. “We also brought some fruit, and cake.”

“Strawberries?” Ryou asks, leaning eagerly towards the item, sniffing.

Keith nods, offering the basket to the older Galra, who takes it happily. “Shiro told me you loved them.”

Ryou ruffles his hair while he turns to Shiro. “I like this one, kit.”

Shiro laughs. “I knew you would.”

.


 

.

Rei serves an utterly delectable dinner, and over the meal, Shiro finally tells the whole story to his grandparents. He’d already told them over his last message, but it’s different, hearing it out loud. Plus, Rei and Ryou were both eager to hear the details - all the details, and Shiro is happy to provide when they have questions.

He’d missed being home.

Keith listens, content, chin in his hands as he watches Shiro with his little family, already learning more about all three of them from this conversation alone.

Shiro had gotten his calm and patience from his grandfather, while his protective and nurturing side he got from his grandmother.

Rei wears her heart on her sleeve, always curious and expressive. Keith sees her eyes widen momentarily at some parts of Shiro’s stories, and he couldn’t help but grow fonder of her if only because Shiro does the same too.

Ryou, while collected, laughs freely and with abandon. The way he sits, the way his eyes soften, the way he picks at his food carefully first before enthusiastically digging in for the rest - all things Keith had seen Shiro do.

It’s a lovely dinner, and when Rei notices Keith’s silence and asks if they’re being too loud, Keith only shakes his head and smiles.

“No, it’s alright. I like listening.”

He does, and they don’t question him after, but they keep smiling at him kindly, without condescension.

Yep. This is Shiro’s family, through and through.

.


 

.

“Oh, my God. These are adorable.”

“Aren’t they just? Oh, this - his first tournament! He was the champion!”

“Wow.” Keith looks up momentarily from where he and Rei were hovering over the little frames propped up in the hallway table. Each of them displayed photos of family and friends that changed every few ticks or so. “Shiro, you were so tiny!”

He didn’t look to see Shiro’s reaction, already turning back to the photos, but he does hear Shiro’s indignant squeak, followed by Ryou’s laughter.

“I should have hidden those photos…” Shiro grumbles.

“Yes, you should have.” Ryou agrees. He sips the tea that Keith had brewed after dinner, and his brows fly up. “This is really good.”

“Keith got it upon recommendation by Princess Allura.” Shiro tells his grandfather.

Ryou almost chokes on the tea. “P-Pri-... of-... of Altea?”

Shiro grins. Ah, so that must have been how he looked like whenever Keith dropped one of his ‘this-celebrity-is-my-friend-no-big-deal’ bombs on him.

“They’re good friends. Right, Keith?”

“Hm?” Keith hums, still preoccupied with the pictures of Shiro through the years and the stories that came with each of them. “Yeah, we grew up together.”

Shiro looks to his grandfather and shrugs. “They grew up together.”

Ryou takes a long moment just to stare down at his cup of tea before taking a second sip. He sighs right after. “You must send this blessing home more often, kit.”

Shiro simply nods. His grandparents never asked him to send souvenirs and gifts home, but he often did anyway. This is only the first time his grandfather asked anything of him since he got in the Blades, and Shiro would be glad to indulge.

They've spoiled him as best as they can. It's his turn now.

He watches as his grandfather pokes at his slice of cake and then takes a careful bite.

“Keith made that cake with his mother.”

Ryou stops, then looks to where Keith and Rei are still enthusiastically talking about the family portraits. “His… mother. Ambassador Krolia?”

Shiro nods.

Ryou hums in thought. “She never seemed like the domestic type, in her public appearances. She always looked like she's all business.”

“You'll be surprised.” Shiro says with a smile. In the few times he'd spent with her, it always struck him how maternal Krolia could be, freely affectionate with her son, and even with Romelle, Pidge and Keith's other friends. Even with Shiro.

“Aw, this one's from the gala…” he hears Keith say, and he turns to see his boyfriend looking up at the big frame with a photo of him and Keith, both smiling, the little Fluvakian princess adorably beaming between them.

“You looked so lovely there, kitling.” Rei marvels. “As did our Shiro, very handsome. Such fancy robes! I bet he didn't know what to do with it.”

Keith chuckles lightly. “He had help.” He puts the frame down. “It's so sweet that you keep all these photos here, on display. I'm used to seeing home galleries, but they're always just boring formal portraits. These ones are great, you can really see that they're… moments. Memories.”

“You flatter me, young one!” Rei laughs. “I simply like going back to these moments. It's been really different without Shiro around, he's our only kit now.”

Keith turns to look at Shiro. “You hear that, babe? You should come home more often.”

Rei laughs again, and ruffles Keith's hair. “Oh, Keith. You're too sweet. We understand that he's very busy. Your line of work is important.”

“No, I mean…” Keith raises an eyebrow at Shiro. “You'll be getting more leaves now, right? C'mon, Shiro. Tell them.”

Shiro looked to both his grandparents sheepishly, then sighs. “So, um,  there's something else I should tell you…”

“Seriously?” Rei asks, exasperated as she settles her hands on her waist. “You are courting, married, royalty… there’s more?”

“It's good news! I wanted it to be a surprise and I wanted to tell you myself!” Shiro reasons quickly, and he sees his grandmother's expression turn expectant.

He also looks to his grandfather, who is waiting for him to speak, fork with cake raised halfway to his mouth.

Finally, he takes a deep breath and beams at them. “I got promoted to Lieutenant.”

Keith has to cover his ears when Rei shrieks and bounds across the room to hug her grandson. Shiro laughs as his grandmother practically tries to squeeze the life out of him. Ryou pats his grandson on the back with a smile.

Keith quietly settles on one of the free seats, pouring himself a cup of tea as he lets the family celebrate.

“We're so proud of you, kit! Our Blade! A Lieutenant!” Rei rejoices, peppering Shiro's face with kisses.

“G-Grandmother!”

Ryou exchanges a smile with Keith as they knock their teacups together. He looks to his wife and grandson again. “Don't smother him, my heart. You're embarrassing him in front of his beloved.”

Keith blows on his tea first and takes a sip, hoping it hides his blush. He always forgets how romantic Galra get with their names for loved ones.

When Rei finally lets go, she settles beside Keith, and is delighted when he pours her a cup of tea, proper posture and all.

He catches Shiro grinning at him and pouts. “Shut up. We had to take lessons about this, okay?”

Shiro serves the cake while Ryou proudly relays to his wife that it was Keith and his mother who baked it.

“Ambassador Krolia!” Rei says in awe as she looks at Keith. “You do look so much like her, kit. Oh, I admire her work. She does so much for the coalition.”

“I'm sure she appreciates that you think so.” Keith says. “She's really busy but I'm sure she'll find the time soon. We should all go to dinner together.”

“That would be great. In speaking of your family… you are Emperor Lotor's cousin?”

“Mm-hm. On the Galra side.” As he looks around thoughtfully, his eyes catch on something. “Auntie Honerva.” he says, pointing at the portrait of the retired empress. “She gave us a really nice wedding present.”

Rei's eyes light up. “Did she? I adore her... Daibazaal has always had intelligent empresses, but she was something else, applied every bit of knowledge she has, pioneered a new technological revolution... Though we don't hear much from her nowadays… How is she doing?”

“She and Uncle Zarkon are really enjoying retirement. Cats. Each other’s company. They're doing great.” Keith says. He tugs at the chain around his neck to show her his crystal pendant. “They sent me and Shiro a matching pair of these.”

“My, that’s beautiful.” Rei whispers, leaning forward to get a better look. “Is it a Balmera? No, those are white.”

“We’re not sure, but she said it’s kinda inspired by Mamora blades, so maybe luxite?”

Shiro watches them talk for a while, just smiling fondly. Beside him, his grandfather hums as he savors his tea.

Ryou lays a hand on his grandson’s arm gently. “You’ve done very well for yourself, kit.”

Shiro looks down, nodding. “I think so too.”

“Oh?” the older raises an eyebrow, looking bemused. “Do you, now?”

Shiro blinks. “Yes?”

Ryou chuckles, shaking his head. “I could have sworn, if I told you that two deca-phoebs ago, you’d only have answered that you simply got lucky. Now you know all this is simply because of you and your hard work. I am glad.”

Shiro only smiles down at his tea before meeting his grandfather’s eyes. “Thank you, grandfather.”

“Taking compliments a lot better now, too. This new life you have is good to you.”

“It is.”

Shiro looks across them again, where his grandmother and Keith are already deep in conversation about their life with the Blades and the Coalition.

Ryou watches his grandson take a sip of tea first before he speaks.

“Now that you know we can handle news about your new life, I hope you don’t hold out on telling us things anymore.”

"Mm."

“For example, we don’t want to learn about a great-grandkit when they’re already celebrating their first name-day.”

Shiro almost spits out his tea.

“G-Grandfather!”

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fin