When Shiro sees him for the first time he sees a boy, glancing out of the window in a classroom full of kids. He doesn't talk to anyone, doesn't react to anything Shiro says.
A challenge, Shiro figures.
Shiro watches him pilot the simulator like he's made for it. While others had gotten to level three, he piloted to level five with ease. Shiro can already hear the Garrison teachers fawning over him.
It doesn't take much: just a few unkind words from the teacher and Shiro's car is gone. He doesn't have to guess twice who is behind the steering wheel, and Keith drives the car just as well as he piloted the simulator. Shiro doesn't have to think twice about what he does next.
Shiro keeps a close eye on Keith. He isn't surprised that the kid actually joins the Garrison, but more surprised about what kind of a person he is.
Shiro is glad he takes the time to learn who Keith is. The kid tries to be all buff and edgy, but on the inside he's just a big softie.
Shiro doesn't care if the teachers think his friendly relationship with Keith is inappropriate. He knows Keith is an orphan and his instincts just yell at him to protect the boy. So he does, inviting Keith into his family, spending time with just Keith, himself and Adam. Slowly Keith starts loosing his walls around Shiro, and Shiro is proud of himself of getting so close.
It's late at night when Shiro hears a soft knock on his door. Adam isn't in town and it's long past curfew, making Shiro scrunch his eyebrows in confusion. He opens the door, expecting an another teacher with late-night questions.
Instead it's Keith who stands behind the door. His uniform is messy and his hair is in tangles. There's a bruise forming on his cheek and he has a black eye. There's a small shake to his limbs.
"Keith?" Shiro asks, not quite believing what he sees. "What happened?"
Keith doesn't answer, just peeking at Shiro from under his bangs. Those eyes, with that unnatural color Shiro has yet to pin down look up on him. The emotion in them is hard to decipher but Keith's lower lip trembles.
"Could I... come inside?" Keith asks, the question a hushed whisper.
Shiro softens. He steps out of the way, letting Keith in. There's a limp to his walk.
"What happened?" Shiro asks, shutting the door behind him.
Keith bites his lip and doesn't answer, instead sitting down on the couch. Shiro scrunches his eyebrows but doesn't press it, knowing that Keith will tell him if he feels comfortable enough to do so. Instead, he gets his emergency med-pack, hoping he has everything Keith needs.
Keith hasn't moved an inch from the sofa since he sat down, the only indications that he's even alive at all being the soft rise and fall of his torso when he breathes and the flicker of his eyes across the room. Shiro sits beside him, shoving Keith the med-pack.
"Where are you hurt?" Shiro asks, eyeing the bruise on Keith's cheek. It looks like it hurts.
"I think... I twisted my ankle. Or something", Keith mutters, raising his right foot. "It hurts pretty bad."
Keith's voice is dull but Shiro can see him still trembling. With gentle hands he takes Keith's leg, inspecting it with care. "Keith, you can tell me what happened. I won't tell anyone."
"I fell down the stairs. That's it", Keith answers but Shiro knows that's not the whole story. He doesn't press it though: the last thing he wants right now is for Keith to get angry at him and run out into the waiting hands of the hall patrol.
Shiro works in silence, taking care of Keith's bruise and black eye. The ankle isn't in a bad condition: it'll heal if Keith's careful with it.
When Shiro's done the room is now not only silent but frozen as well. Shiro tries to catch Keith's eyes but the kid keeps them downwards, locked on his hands. Shiro can see bloodied knuckles.
"Hey Shiro...", Keith begins, startling Shiro. "You and Adam... how did you know you like boys?" Keith asks.
Shiro can't say he knew to anticipate the question, so he has to ponder the answer.
"I suppose I just never thought anything else. I was never interested in girls romantically, and my interest for the same gender was confirmed when I accidentally kissed an old classmate of mine. It was very awkward and he didn't talk to me for a week but I knew exactly why kissing him was ten times better than trying to cozy up to the girls."
Keith hums quietly.
"I don't know about Adam though, you should ask him about it."
"Some kids think being gay is stupid", Keith says, twisting his arms. "They made fun of you and Adam. I punched them."
Shiro doesn't really know what to say. His eyes widen a bit, but he manages to keep his mouth shut from shouting anything that might break this careful situation.
"It wasn't right of them to make fun of other people but I don't think punching them is the right way to go, Keith", Shiro chuckles.
"I tired to ignore it at first", Keith admits, now scraping the blood off his knuckles. "But when they kept going on and going on. I lost it."
"Keith...", Shiro groans.
The room is silent again. Keith is twisting his hands again, now that he's scraped off most of the blood.
"I think I might be gay too", Keith whispers, barely loud enough for Shiro to hear.
Immediately the last of Shiro's nervousness melts away. "Oh Keith", he chuckles, pulling the kid into a hug. Small hands clutch the front of his shirt, their hold surprisingly tight.
"It's okay. You're allowed to be whatever you want."
Keith doesn't answer, but sniffles, and Shiro holds him tighter.