It started with a lingering memory.
The dark and cold night had been lit up by disastrous flames that swallowed a small home, belonging to none other than a boy and his father, taking it and the memories that were littered inside down to the ground carelessly. Smoke alarms blared in sync loud enough for a whole neighborhood to hear, well, if there was one anyways. For now, the deafening sound reached only the two who were trapped inside, and the fire fighters out.
The father rushed to get out while holding his only son close to his body, and covering his small mouth to block the smoke from entering his young lungs while the boy held on tight, using his black bangs to cover his eyes in fear. He had only been up to 7 years old, taught throughout his life what to do in a situation of a house fire, but never stuck in one until that night. Though his skin was surrounded by never ending and growing heat, his small body was shivering frantic and fearfully.
The father stepped over many fallen pieces of wood from the ceiling, followed by some pictures that had been burnt off the wall and crashed to the floor. Time was precious now, it didn't matter what was ruined or left behind, they needed to leave this house fast.
Yet, the flames knocked down more wood from the ceiling, blocking the nearest door that lead outside to fresh air and trapping the two in their place while sending more and more smoke towards them. The memory started to become foggy at that time, bits and pieces still remained, but one that will forever stick in Keith Kogane's head is the moment where his father screamed to him "I love you!" before tossing his small body out of a nearby broken window, and everything going black until the next morning where he woke up in the hospital. White walls kept the boy inside, a seriously uncomfortable bed propped beneath him with a heart monitor standing not even a few inches away. It was connected to tubes that were sending hydrating fluids to Keith's veins, needles taped into his skin. And one thing was for sure, it all sent sparks of fear to his brain that would last for a decade.
Confused and petrified, the boy called for his father and pushed himself to sit up, leaning forward to try and look out the half opened door. A woman, likely a nurse nearby had been talking with someone that Keith couldn't see until she heard his soft call and almost immediately dropped the previous conversation as she excused herself, then rushed to his bedside. A sweet smile appeared on her lips while she sat down next to Keith and spoke with a soft and caring voice, "Hello sweetie. I'm Ms. Robinson, do you know where you are right now?"
Keith looked at her numbly, but his eyes were still wide and begging to catch the sight of his father. They wanted to see him so badly, they wanted to know that he was there making jokes and cracking a smile like he always did, they strained to see him healthy and happy yet they were stuck with this stranger. "Where's my daddy?" he asked her and again, the memory started to break into small pieces. Words either turned into muffles or disappeared in total, and the faint beeping coming from the heart monitor was suddenly gone, replaced by silence. Though, the feeling of Ms. Robinson grabbing Keith's hand and her short sentence, that was like a 2 page long essay still remained clear as day for him,
"Your father is in heaven now..."
12 years later, that same young boy was letting that same heart wrenching and numbing memory surface his mind and repeat itself while staring blankly at the one single picture that'd remained safe in that burning house; a selfie of his father holding mini 6 year old Keith in his arms. They both had bright and happy smiles on their faces, so innocent and sweet, with one quick look at this picture from a stranger and they'd assume that no tragedy affected them just a year later. That they were still happy together and grew to know and love each other like any father and son should.
Like they should. But they didn't.
Keith's knees were pulled up to his chest and his eyes were red and puffy from the countless tears that continued to fall down his pale cheeks like a waterfall, soaking his bed sheets. While his sobs were loud, Keith cupped his hand over his mouth to muffle them and keep them quiet, because even when the paladins were asleep, he wasn't one to take chances. He didn't want to let people see or hear him cry.
"Dad..." a sniffle. "I miss you." he lifted his head towards the ceiling as if he was searching for his loved one, but just like that memory, he saw nothing but walls of white. Nothing but emptiness and sorrow, heartache.
Then came a knock on Keith's door, and the boy's eyes widened quicker than you could say "quiznack" while he sucked in and held a sharp gasp to keep his crying at bay, his eyes locking and gluing themselves to the door. It was silent for a moment, and just as Keith began to think that the knocking had only been part of his imagination, an all too familiar voice spoke from beyond the walls of his room.
Now Keith was really beginning to think that this was all in his head, but curiosity got to him, why the hell would Lance of all people knock on his door in the middle of the night? Unless he heard the crying, but if so why would he care? He shouldn't care, it's not like he would help him, all they ever do is fight over the littlest things. It was just simple nature for them, an every day cycle, morning to night. He hates Keith, Keith hates him.
Or does he?