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    It was Autumn in Garrison, which means it was competition prep season, and that meant big business for Marmora Ranch.

 

    “Tyss! I need you to cover my lessons for today. The ferrier said he could do both Red and Atlas today,” Keith calls out to his girlfriend while shrugging on a flannel to make himself more presentable. She was helping a younger rider put up her tack and nodded. 

 

    “On it, but remember, if Red acts up again, you have to call me. I don’t want you breaking an arm again,” Tyss scolds in a semi playful tone. Keith sighs and kisses her cheek. “Yeah, yeah, I got it. I’m going to go meet her at the gate,” He says hurriedly and leaves her to cover for her.

 

    Passing through the stable, Keith can’t help but feel a cloud form over him as he looks at the horses of his old friends; a palomino named Balmera, an Irish Welsh called Quantum, a thoroughbred named Azul, and a strawberry roan named Juniberry. The other, a Fresian draft by the name of Atlas, was in a paddock with Keith’s own mare, Red.

 

Reaching the gate, Keith nods his head at the familiar Chevy and trailer of ferrier and  waves her down. The ferrier follows him down a dirt road to a paddock in the back where the two horses are grazing. The ferrier gets out and smiles at Keith.

 

“So which one are we doing first?” She asks, already heading to the halter rack. Keith follows behind her and starts to unchain the gate. 

 

“Red first. Tyss is riding her hard tonight to try and break the phase she’s in right now,” Keith explains as the ferrier grabs the crimson halter and steps into the paddock. 

 

“Ah, so it’s one of those weeks?” She comments while he closes the gate behind them. “Yep. We’re showing her at the county fair along with Juniberry and a few rescue’s we just broke,” Keith explains calmly. They attempt to get close to Red, who tenses and pins her ears back. 

 

“I still think what your families been doing is God’s work,” she comments, “I mean, all these horses you’ve rescued were due to go to the butchers or be neglected by some brat, and you guys are giving them a new chance at life. I mean, look at Atlas.” At the mention of his name, the giant horse looks up, his lame ear drooping and sewn shut eye filling Keith with rage. 

 

“I wasn’t even in middle school when we got Atlas. That was Krolia and Shiro after dad died. He made Shiro whole again,” Keith reminisce. If this was any other ferrier, he wouldn’t have said that, but this ferrier has been coming to the ranch since his dad inherited it from Keith’s grandfather, so she was like family at that point. 

 

“Ah yeah, I remember. Pa, Shiro, Mr Kogane, and I had to use two different cross ties to keep him in place just to trim a tiny hangnail,” the ferrier chuckled and as soon as she was in range, she slipped the halter on Red. “Gotcha you cranky beast,” She says and quickly hands the rope to Keith when she starts to get antsy. 

 

“Easy girl,” Keith murmurs as he guides her back out the paddock and to the cross ties next to it. 

 

“Speaking of the log, have you heard from Shiro lately?” She asks while retrieving her tool kit from the trailer. Keith shakes his head. “Nah, haven’t had the time, you know how pre comp season is,” Keith says absently. “Oh boy, you bet. But I believe congrats are in order, I heard you made it to that two A show in the north,” She says excitedly while trimming Red’s hooves. 

 

“He didn’t make jack shit. Keith’s been refusing to show for years,” A familiar feminine voice says out of nowhere. Keith turns and smiles at the sight of Tyss, sweaty and dirty but as happy as can be. “Smugs, Juniberry, and I made it thank you very much,” She snipes playfully.

 

“I wish we did dressage with horses other than Juniberry. Ulaz has the legs for it-” “Ulaz is a straightbred you ass. We’d tear up his legs instantly, and besides, have you ever taught a horse dressage?” Tyss interrupts him snarkily and when he couldn’t respond she snorts. “That’s what I thought.”

 

The ferrier chuckles and starts to clean the hooves. 

 

“What happened to the lesson?” Keith asked and his lover lets out a sigh. 

 

“Not only did she forget the new bit, she also didn’t eat and nearly passed out from low sugar.” Keith clicks his tongue which causes Red’s ears to perk.

 

“Kids these days,” He sighs and it makes both women let ugly sounds out from trying not to laugh. 

 

“Keith, babe, I love you, but you’re just like them. I literally had to force feed you at lunch,” Tyss lets out. It makes Keith’s ears slightly red but he doesn’t let his embarrassment show. 

“We had too many things to do today!” Keith retorts and it causes them to laugh once more.

                        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A few hours pass with Tyss taking over Keith’s lesson duties and chatting with the ferrier and said man as they finish up Curtis and Red’s hoof care. Once the ferrier leaves, the two set out in the tractor and bring feed to all the horses in the paddocks before feeding the ones in stalls. The sun’s already low in the sky by the time they’re sitting on the porch of the little cottage. 

 

“I miss him,” Keith mumbles as Tyss rests her head on his shoulder. 

 

“I know you do Keith, but he’s keeping you away to keep you safe. Now that we have this many lives depending on us, you can’t risk going back,” she whispers to him. “Neither can you,” He whispers back and the two enter a peaceful silence.

 

That is until a small entourage of unmarked black cars start pulling up at the gate.

 

“What the-” “Tyss, get the guns and my blade,” Keith orders, on his feet immediately. Tyss scampers in and quickly retrieves the old sword his mom left him and the two guns she’s used since she was old enough to shoot. The two arm themselves and wait on the porch for people to get out. When no one gets out Keith makes the first move.

 

“Hey assholes, this is private property, get off,” Keith calls. They knew it couldn’t be clients since they have a policy of a 24 hour notice and for clients to give the make and model of their car. 

 

No one gets out still which makes Tyss take the safety off both guns. 

 

“You heard him; get the fuck off our land,” She snarls and aims one of the guns at them.

 

Finally, the doors to the closest car open and four people step out. Instantly, Keith is poised to attack and Tyss has both guns aimed at the heads of the furthest two people. 

 

“I thought we told you to piss off,” Keith growls. The four people look familiar to him and he’s pretty sure he knows who they are, but they became strangers the moment they cut him off. One of them, the lanky tan man, reaches for something in his pocket but a gunshot rings out and he immediately cries out and grabs his bicep. 

 

That same instant, Keith lunges to the nearest one and puts them in a choke hold, the blade resting against her throat. Tyss’ guns are now aimed at the heads of the other two who raise their hands immediately while calling out to the guy who looked like he’d been shot. 

 

“Stop your squabbling. I just grazed his arm,” Tyss snaps.

 

“Now, what are you doing on our ranch?” Keith asks with a growl still in his voice. 

 

“We’re looking for Keith Kogane,” the short one with orange hair asks with a small squeak in their voice. 

 

“Whose asking?” Keith asks cautiously, keeping and eye on the injured one.

 

“Takashi Shirogane,” The bigger tanned one blurts with hope in his voice, obviously hating the situation. 

 

“Bullshit. Unless we hear that from his mouth we’re not saying where Keith is,” Keith spits, unknowingly tightening his hold on the girl. 

 

“He’s running late,” She gasps out, “But we promise he’s on his way here.” It was obvious it hurt for her talk and it brought a tingle to Keith’s spin he hadn’t felt in years.

 

“Yurak,” Tyss calls, using a nickname Krolia gave Keith, “They have at least five armed guards per car. I think they’re waiting on a signal from them to move in,” She tells him. “Just don’t kill her. If they’re telling us the truth then we can stand down once Shiro gets here, but until then, we have to keep them here and away from the horses.” There was a slight code to her words; we’re outnumbered. I’m pretty sure they’re from an old gang getting revenge, so as long as we hold out and I can page police, then we should be able to keep the horses from harm. It was tough to face their odds, and they could’ve probably won if it wasn’t for the fact that the guards were armed.

 

They were at a stalemate for what seemed like hours, the sun beginning to set when the rev of a car was heard from down the road. 

 

A white jeep skidded into the driveway and slowed down. In the driver’s seat, was one stressed Takashi Shirogane.

 

He stopped abruptly and threw open the door, Shiro jumping out with stress written all over him.

“I told you wait for me! They don’t take kindly to strangers,” Shiro scolded and the sight of him made Keith loosen his grip a bit. Shiro looks at him and smiles.

 

“Long time no see Keith,” Shiro says happily.

 

“Long time no see Shiro. Now, are they really with you?” Keith asks with snark in his voice. 

 

“Yes sadly, now please let Allura go so we can help Lance’s graze,” Shiro asks nicely, as if this was an everyday occurrence. 

 

Keith let’s go and Allura falls to the ground sputtering. Keith then runs up and hugs Shiro tightly, his brother reciprocating almost ten times. Tyss goes over to Lance who weakily shoots pick up lines at her while she unties the bandana from her arm and uses it as a makeshift sling for him. 

 

“We have proper supplies in the house. You can come in if you tell your guards to scram, it’s stressing the horses,” Tyss says flatly. She walks by the brothers and rests a hand on Keith’s shoulder. 

 

“Take your time love, I’m gonna go in and make dinner,” She says with a lot more care before disappearing into the house.

 

It takes another few minutes before the short one coughs, causing the brothers to seperate. 

 

“Shiro, I don’t understand, what are you doing here?” Keith asks, his eyes watery. 

 

“I know you said you wanted to leave Voltron to take care of dads ranch, but we need your help, and you know I’d only seek you out as a last choice,” Shiro says bittersweetly. Keith nods and hardens his face.

 

“Yeah, okay, but what about them ?” Keith practically snarls and it causes the other four to cringe. 

 

“I thought it’d be best to bring them along-” “They called me a disgrace for leaving and cut me off like I just sold you guys out,” Keith snaps and the tension rises. 

 

“Look, I know what’s happening must be bad if you came out to the ranch, but I’m done with that life, and I don’t know how I feel about putting Tyss back into that,” Keith snarls at them. 

“Why can’t you leave her here to look after the horses?” Hunk pipes up but almost instantly regrets it when Keith’s withering glare falls on him. 

 

“She has mental problems. I can’t leave her by herself,” Keith snaps like it was obvious.

 

“I’m happy here, Shiro. I know you need help but Tyss’ mental health and our future comes first, hell, we’re even planning on having her first dinner with Krolia tomorrow and she’s having her first meet with the therapist in months and it’s just for a check in,” Keith explains quickly. “I can’t put this in danger,” Keith whispers. 

 

“We know you can’t Keith, but we had no other choice,” Allura says out of nowhere. All eyes swivel to her as she stands tall.

 

“I know we were unnecessarily cruel to you when you left; it was uncalled for on our part and we’re deeply sorry for it, but now, we need your help to stand our ground.” Allura was firm but genuine and it made Keith close his arms.

 

“Galra has been targeting our men and killing not just them, but their families too. They’ve been hijacking our shipments, reselling our drugs with impurities, and raping the women at our clubs. Every attempt to stop them has been met with one of our warehouses being blown up. It started when you stepped down because they were scared of you. Now they think we’re a joke and it’s costing innocent lives,” Allura explained. “You have to help us stop them; it’s your job as former head.” Keith looks at her incredulously.

 

“Allura’s right,” Lance says through gritted teeth as he moves closer. “Yes we were wrong, but we have to put that in the past for the sake of the people who are dying for no reason.” It was said with a lot of force but his tone suddenly softened. “Please, Keith.”

 

Keith thinks quietly for a moment before sighing. 

 

“Come on in. We can bandage that up properly there and I think dinners almost done; we can talk then.” It was as close to a yes as they were gonna get and it made them all smile at each other. They lag behind a bit behind Keith as he guides him inside. 

 

“Who was the girl with guns?” Allura asked Shiro as they reach the door. 

 

“That was Tyss, Keith’s girlfriend. I think they started going out a year after he left? Don’t quote me on it,” Shiro said with uncertainty. 

 

“If Keith doesn’t want to leave her alone, we could always take her on as a spy in Allura or Lance’s department,” Hunk suggests but Pidge shakes her head. 

 

“I get the feeling she’s an experienced killer. Look at Lance, she grazed him enough to cause severe pain but not enough to cause nerve damage. She didn’t even twitch when Keith had Allura against the sword or when Lance started bleeding everywhere. There’s more to her than meets the eye.” It was an observation none of them had noticed, but then again, if you have guns pointed at your face you don’t really focus on that.

 

“Well, let’s see for ourselves,” Lance says tentatively and they following Shiro and Keith inside.

 

The first thing they see is Tyss in the kitchen, her auburn hair up tightly and lean muscles rippling under scarred, tan skin. She scrubbed the dirt from her face and hands and looked pretty under the warm light. Keith had his face buried in her shoulder and his arms wrapped around her waist, dwarfing her. 

 

“Keith, come on,” She laughs and glides across the kitchen with Keith still attached to her. 

 

“Don’t wanna,” He mumbled and presses against her even further. “At least show them where the cutlery is so they can set the table. I’ll treat point face while the chicken simmers.” She turns around and cups his face. 

 

“Keith, I’ll be okay. If I start to panic, I’ll tell you, okay?” Her voice was soft and the others felt intrusive on seeing such a vulnerable moment. Keith nods and Tyss kisses him gently. They part and Keith waves them down. 

 

“Lance, you stay here, the rest of you, we’ll set the table,” He looks at Tyss with uncertainty. 

 

“Outside. I need to clear off my stuff from the one inside,” “Okay, does the lamp have gas?” “Yeah it should. Kolivan left it full last time him and Krolia were here.” Keith hums and guides everyone out, leaving Lance and Tyss alone. 

 

There was a moment of silence before Tyss sets the stove low and turns around. 

“Your a pimp aren’t you?” She asks blatantly and Lance does a double take.

 

“How did you know?” He asks and she lets out a tense laugh and grabs the medical kit from the top of the fridge. 

 

“You all get this look in your eyes when you see a pretty woman who looks like they can swing their hips the right way,” It was supposed to be an offensive remark but it came out with melancholy instead. They fall silent once again as she cleans the graze and bandages it up. 

 

“Were being pimped out before you met Keith?” Lance asks quietly. It startles her but she doesn’t say anything. “If you were, I’m not going to do it. We’re just here to bring Keith back, not put his girlfriend up for prostitution.”

 

“It’s not that. I mean, at some point I was in a way, but I wanted to just confirm. You seem too, I don’t know, nice , to be selling sex and favors.” “It’s not against their will if that’s what your asking. They all get a salary from me and they choose who they take.” It got silent between them and Tyss starts plating the food. 

 

“If Keith says yes and refuses to take me with him, protect him with your life,” She demands quietly. “He has to come back to me.” 

 

Lance looks at her and flashes one of his brilliant smiles. 

 

“I promise Tyss. I’m the right hand for a reason.”

                               ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Keith and Tyss brought the plates of chicken marsala to the glass table on the back patio. A box of beer sat in the middle and multiple oil lamps as well as fairy lights warm the area. They all sat down. 

 

“Thank you for the meal Tyss. I’ve always had to listen to Keith rave about your cooking so I can’t wait,” Shiro flatters and it brought slight color to Tyss’ cheeks. 

 

“Wait, didn’t you have a dog Keith?” Pidge asks with her mouth full of mashed potatoes.

 

“Don’t you dare talk with your mouth full,” Tyss scolds and Allura seconds her. Pidge swallows and glares at them.

 

“Pretty sure you guys talk with mouthfuls of Keith and Lance’s dicks,” She snaps and a cacophony of noises erupt from the table; Shiro and Hunk started scolding Pidge, Lance spit out his beer, Keith choked on the chicken he was chewing, Allura shrieked, and Tyss dropped her silverware onto her plate.

 

“What? Last time I checked that’s a think you heteros do,” Pidge says nonchalantly. 

 

“Pidge, only you would assume everyone in a straight relationship is fully straight,” Allura chirps. Pidge just shrugs and continues eating, everyone finally calming down. 

 

“So, when did the emo loner start dating a bright girl like you?” Lance asked after awhile and some small talk. It was awkward between them and Keith and Shiro could only mediate so much. 

 

Keith and Tyss looked at each other in surprise and take a big gulp of beer. 

 

“Uh, his dog nearly decapitated me?” Tyss says but it sounded more like a question. 

 

“Wait, tiny little Kosmo?” Hunk asks incredulously and Keith lets out a big laugh. 

 

“That was five years ago Hunk! Kosmo’s massive now, and I think he’s coming back tomorrow?” “I thought Thace was dropping him off tonight,” Keith just shrugs.

 

“But yeah. I was on the run and got lost in the woods on the edge of the east paddocks and I guess Kosmo smelled the gunpowder on me from my guns and pinned me down by my neck till Keith got there. The call Shiro got from him that night was hilarious,” Tyss explains and Shiro bursts out laughing and Keith turns bright red. 

 

“How can I forget? A call from Keith in the middle of the night and the first thing out of his mouth is, ‘Shiro, I don’t think I’m gay anymore.’” Everyone laughs and Keith hides his face in his hands.

 

“Anyway,” Keith says with embarrassment. His face suddenly neutralises. “You guys want me to come back, right?” They nod.

 

“Same department,” Shiro says and Keith freezes for a moment. 

 

“Guys, I really don’t know. Yeah I want to help the workers who were dragged into this but I have lives to look after here. My ranch hands are on vacation right now and its pre comp season so I can’t just up and leave. We can’t leave them here by themselves,” Keith was obviously worried about the people but his passion was the horses.

“Wait, you’re not leaving Tyss here to look after them?” Lance asked, looking at Tyss who didn’t bat an eyelash.

 

“No. I can’t leave her by herself and she’d be an asset,” He states and glances back at her. “If you feel you’re okay mentally and Thace gives you the okay.” She just gives him a look and takes a long sip.

 

“I mean, you know I live for that shit. I’d need a whole revamp though, my old sponsor kind of wants me dead,” She says and Keith nods. 

 

“So, what does that mean?” Allura asks and Tyss sets down her beer.

 

“It means now you have one hell of an assassin,” She says and folds her arms. 

 

“Tyss used to be a hitman,” Keith explained quickly when they looked at her questioningly. 

 

“Ah, so you guys are on board with this?” Shiro asks and they both shrug. 

 

“Like I said, horses come first. I can see when my ranch hands come back and we can leave then, but nothing sooner.”

 

“Keith we can’t wait that long,” Pidge demands and Keith sends her a withering look. 

 

“Yes you can. If you really need my help you can wait that long. If you guys want you can stay until then but you’ll have to help around, like doing house and stable work.” The demands were simple but he could see the dilemma on most of their faces.

 

“I have no qualms with it. It’s been years since I’ve been back in Garrison and I think I need to spend some time with Atlas.”

 

Keith and Tyss go quiet at the mention of the draft. 

 

“Tell him,” Tyss says after a while.

 

Keith sits back.

 

“Shiro, Atlas hasn’t been able to see from his right eye for eight years now. It got scratched out by a little brat who was told he wasn’t for sale.”

                            -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dish’s went by without a hitch. After Shiro was told about Atlas he went quiet for the rest of dinner. The other’s inquired vaguely about their own horses and that conversation ended. Now, everyone but Tyss were in their rooms. She was hunched over the unpolished, unrefined, carcass of a fiddle Keith’s dad was working on. Tyss’ mother was a luthier and taught her how to craft fiddles and guitars, but it felt intrusive to her.

 

She heard Hunk and Pidge laugh as well as Lance and Allura getting up to, things . Steeling herself, Tyss sits down and starts sanding.

                            -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Keith, I know it’s tough leaving the ranch, but thank you,” Shiro tells him as they sit on the roof. The moon was waning but still bright and illuminating the massive stable and some horses frolickng in the paddocks. 

 

“I don’t think it’ll be as hard considering you’re here,” Keith says quietly. The silence between them was comfortable and it was obvious they were just living in the moment. “Kolivan and Krolia got married last week,” Keith remarks absently. Shiro just smiles and looks out.

 

“At least she found someone,” He chuckles and it makes Keith smile. He missed his brother dearly and it felt good to just sit with him. 

 

“I wonder what would happen if Adam and Tyss were in the same room,” Shiro thinks out loud and Keith couldn’t help but snort. 

 

“Every chore imaginable would be done, the entire ranch would probably be put in pristine condition, and they’d still have time to lecture us about our professions,” Keith answers slightly sarcastic. Shiro laughs then gently falls quiet. 

 

“He wants me to leave. We’d have enough money to live out here with you for the rest of our lives, or if you and Tyss didn’t mind, we could move into the guest house and do ranch work. He still won’t stop begging me to see the photos of Atlas and Red you send.” It was supposed to be a joke but Keith took it seriously. 

 

“Why don’t you? After all this is over; pass Altea down to Acxa, Ezor, Zethrid, and Narti, or at least most of the responsibilities to them and move out here with us? Tyss and I would love the company. James and Kinkade are fun and all but they’re employees who won’t always be there.” The two of them look at each other.

 

“Takashi,” Keith only used his real name when he was two hundred percent serious. “I know we all started the gang for shits and giggles, didn’t expect it to make us millions, billions when the business was super good, so I understand you all for not wanting to leave, but we’re all starting families now. If anything, why not set up a system so you’re all still in charge but most of the work is delegated to others?”

 

Shiro blinked at him.

 

“Who are you and what have you done with my rage filled little brother who is still in his emo phase after almost twenty years?” Keith shoves him playfully.

 

“Douchebag.”

 

“Aww, thank you.”

 

They fall into silence again, but not for long. Soon the haunting sound of a violin penetrates through the air. Looking for the sound of the sad music, the brothers look down to see Tyss on the back porch with a newly finished violin, pouring emotions into each draw of the bow. They could see Pidge, Lance, Allura, and Hulk poking their heads out windows, doing the same. All six of them watch and listen as the only unfinished work left by Takashi and Keith’s father now cries completed into the night with no sense of belonging.

Chapter Text

When Keith woke up, Tyss was not in his arms. Instead it was the furry beast he’s come to know as his herding dog and best friend, Kosmo. He smiles into his yawn and gives the sheppard a little head ruffle.

 

“Morning you beast,” He mumbled and swung his legs out of bed. Groggily, he dresses in tattered jeans, a black tank top, and his leather work boots and wanders down into the kitchen to be greeted by French toast and scrambled eggs as well as a kiss from Tyss.

 

“Good morning grumpy,” She chirps and only gets a grumpy good morning in return. She sets down a big mug of black coffee in front of him and pats his shoulder. “I’ll wake the others, just focus on getting yourself up, okay?” And with that, she slips up stairs to where everyone was; Shiro in their dad’s old room, Lance and Allura in Shiro’s old room, and Pidge and Hunk in Krolia’s old room (now the actual guest room in the main house). Tyss bangs on the doors of all but Shiro’s room, shouting at them to get their lazy asses up, When she reached Shiro’s, she just cracked open the door and asked how he liked his coffee, knowing from Keith that he was as much as a morning person as she was. 

 

Once she made it down stairs, Keith was a lot happier and actually gave her a kiss and hug, helping her plate food and coffee for their new ranch hands.

 

“So, agenda for today?” Keith asks her as the groggy guests shuffle their way in, disheveled and bleary eyed.

 

“Definitely break in Red. Little bastard deserves it after chucking you off. Probably get in some good riding time with Smugs and Juniberry. Have you heard from James, Krolia, Tolivan, and Thace about watching the ranch?” She asks, sliding plates to everyone and taking coffee requests. Shiro comes down and takes his coffee from the counter, already looking at the list of horses needing grooming.

 

“Yeah. James is coming Saturday which works out for the show, so we can leave Sunday, and Krolia and Tolivan said they’d be back from their honeymoon later than planned, so probably the day we leave they’ll be back here. Thace is booked with appointments; speaking of that, he wants the appointment to be a video conference since he figured we’re up to our necks with that competition coming up.” Keith refilled his own coffee mug and helps Tyss with dishes as everyone slowly starts to wake up.

 

“So we leave Sunday? Sounds good,” Shiro chimes in. “I can handle grooming the paddock horses and Allura can groom the ones in the stable. I think Pidge would be best at doing your feed inventory considering she’s smaller than most of your horses. Hunk and Lance could probably polish and clean equipment and help Allura and I shuttle horses around,” Shiro suggests and Keith hums. 

 

“Just because i’m half awake doesn’t mean I can’t hear you, and what are we doing up at ass o’clock anyway?” Pidge snarls, graciously accepting her third cup of coffee and cleaning her own plate of food.

 

“It was the truth Pidge and he didn’t mean it as shade; you can’t be weak around animals like these. Anyway, it’s almost time for their breakfast, so that's gonna be an actual bitch,” Keith grumbles. 

 

“Why don’t three of us feed the stables and the other four feed the paddocks?” Shiro asks and Keith nods, tapping the table to keep Lance from falling asleep.

 

“Tyss this is amazing!” Hunk says with a mouthful after finally waking up enough to taste the food. 

 

“Not to mention the coffee is strong,” Pidge mumbles gratefully and hands Shiro her mug to refill. 

 

“How are you all awake?” Lance grumbles while lazily eating his food. Tyss snorts and pats his back as she heads to the mud room. 

 

“The coffee, Lance! If it’s strong enough to wake Keith it’s strong enough to wake an elephant.” The sound of zippers reaches their ears and she stands back up while tying her hair up. 

 

“I think Pidge, Hunk, and I should handle the stables and you, Shiro, Allura, and Lance should go to the paddocks. Hunk seems too soft to handle the beasts out there,” She decides and Keith laughs when Lance’s head pops up. 

 

“What beasts? I thought you said that this was a horse ranch!” Lance cries out, suddenly very awake. 

 

“It’s mainly Red and few other horses out there we’re worried about. Red’s been in this stink for a while and a few horses are in heat and nursing so they’re unusually aggressive too. On top of that there’s a few rescues we haven’t broken in yet, so we need to be careful they don’t get close to back paddocks,” Keith explains after stepping aside to allow the others to finish washing dishes.

 

“What’s in the back?” Pidge asks just as Tyss pads up stairs. 

 

“That’s where Red and Atlas are. If they got near them Red would feel the need to protect Atlas and that would become dangerous for everyone, especially us and Atlas.” They all seem to nod in understanding. “Anyway, ground rules; don’t approach me or Tyss while we’re riding or during a lesson. Today we’re dealing with the more unruly horses so we need our full focus. Go to Shiro if you need something and if even he can’t help you, wait until one of us is out of the arena and obviously not busy.”

 

“Okay, your ranch your rules,” Lance says and two sets of feet lightly rush down the stairs.

 

“Sorry I’m late! I needed help putting this stuff on and braiding my hair,” Allura says with a twinge of embarrassment. Her full white hair was done in a neat fishtail braid, blue ribbons weaving in and out, she had worn black jodhpurs and a sun bleached teal tank top. It was all tied in by the newish looking ankle boots that seemed to make the look official. 

 

“See? Told you the stuff would come in handy” Tyss says proudly. 

 

“I don’t get it,” Pidge says and Hunk closes Lance’s gaping jaw. 

 

“Leggins and loose silk shirts aren’t good for this type of work,” Keith says simply and they all start to get up. “We’ll come by in thirty minutes to take you with us so you have time to eat,” Keith says and all but Allura leaves the house.

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“Hey Keith, is everything okay?” Lance asks as they wait for Shiro and Allura to come back with more bales of hay.

 

“Yeah,” Keith says shortly, instinctively scratching the scar covering his cheek and some of his neck. 

 

“Does it have to do with that?” Lance probes while judging Keith’s reaction.

 

“Lance can you just drop it?” Keith snaps at him before breathing out a sigh. “Sorry but you can’t expect me to spill my guts after not talking to you guys for five years.” Keith watched as Kosmo herded some of the Shetland ponies roaming free. 

 

Lance goes quiet for a minute before actually looking at Keith. All of them have visibly matured from the awkward teens they used to be; teens forced to grow up fast to avoid being killed. Keith’s once smooth arms were now muscled and covered in scars, his hair longer and no longer greasy from the copious amounts of hair spray it took to keep in place, and his eyes didn’t look as burdened anymore; they looked happy and optimistic.

 

Lance’s jawline had gotten sharper and he’d grown a few more inches, his hair had gotten slightly longer and he filled out his clothes a lot more than what he used to and his fingers had calloused severely. It wasn’t as drastic a change as Keith, but Lance didn’t do as physically strenuous work as Keith.

 

“I’m not asking for every depressing detail that’s happened. I just want to know what’s going on with my best friend.” Keith smiles sadly at him and looks at the approaching tractor.

 

“I’ll tell you later. Right now, it’s not something I can say without permission.” Lance lets out a guffaw. 

 

“She really has you whipped doesn’t she?” He asks, his eyes going soft at the sight of Allura. 

 

“I’m not the only one,” Keith says softly and jumps off the fence.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Tyss, tell us more about yourself,” Pidge whines, “We barely know you!”

 

“Pidge, don’t force her to open up. We literally just tried to kidnap her boyfriend, I doubt she fully trusts us,” Hunk scolds, poking his head out of a stall. Pidge grumbles and Tyss just smiles faintly.

 

“Ask what you want I guess. I’ll answer anything that isn’t too touchy,” She says simply and Pidge visibly perks up.

 

“Favorite flavor?” Hunk asks and Pidge groans.

 

“Hunk, that’s so boring!”

 

“You learn a lot about a person just based on that!”

Tyss laughs a little at them. They reminded her of her dad and sister.

 

“Chocolate all the way. Keith prefers strawberry and that’s the only reason why we have strawberry plants, the heathen.” Hunk agrees while Pidge, albeit very crudely, voices her disagreement. 

 

“Vanilla is obviously best! It goes with just about everything! Anyway, since Hunk won’t ask the juicy stuff I guess it’s up to me,” Pidge’s grin spreads ear to ear and he leans right into Tyss’ face. 

 

“Is Keith the kinky fucker we all know he is?”

 

Tyss squawks and Hunk yells at Pidge in embarrassment, but the gremlin just laughs her ass off. 

 

“Do I have to answer?” Tyss squeaks and Pidge just smirks.

 

“You don’t, but I’ll end up asking Keith and you know he’s a horrible liar.” It was evil and Tyss didn’t know if she should lie or not. It’s been a while since she’s had to lie so it’ll probably be obvious that she is.

 

“God, I actually hate you Pidge,” Tyss growls under her breath and turns to fill a pail up with granules. She mumbled something and Hunk and Pidge lean in with excited smiles.

 

“What was that? Couldn’t hear you,” Pidge sing songs and gives Tyss room to move around. They noticed her face was red and she avoids their eyes.

 

“He likes biting,” She blurts and trudges past them to continue feeding. Hunk and Pidge just look at each other for a minute before it clicks.

 

“Wait, really?” Hunk asks in shock. Pidge bombards Tyss with questions while handing her the wrong bags and medications due to lack of attention.

 

“Both of you, shut up and pay attention before you kill someone!” She snaps after Hunk gives her a strong antibiotic for a freshly weaned foal. 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At eight o’clock they all regroup with Tyss looking ready to murder someone and Keith looking like he went to a family reunion. 

 

“So, Shiro can explain how you all do your jobs, Keith and I have to let people and start giving lessons and breaking horses.” They nod and split up. After Shiro gives them a guide of what to do they all stare in amazement as Keith gives Tyss a leg up when she mounts Red. They already had an appreciation for the duo after watching them calm the unruly mare when she started bucking in the cross ties during tacking. 

 

“As much as this hurts my back, I can see why Keith left for it,” Allura says after a moment. They were all entranced at how elegant and easy Tyss made a posting trot on Red look, and Keith joined them in that respect. 

 

“Right reign, she’s pulling you to the center!” Keith called out from one of the jumps, setting it to two feet. 

 

“This was our livelihood, remember? Back when we were nobodies and the biggest our dreams got was making it to States in 4-H,” The memories Shiro brought up put small smiles on all of them.

 

“They took care of the horses well. Maybe Keith will let us ride again,” Hunk says hopefully. They look to see the stalls Papa Kogane had given them all; Their horses watching them with curious eyes.

 

“Anyway, let’s get to work so they don’t have to worry about the horses,” Lance says, noticing how tense Keith an Tyss were. 

 

Throughout the day, they heard Keith yelling instructions and helped Tyss keep Red away from other horses when she moved to the smaller arena when Keith taught. They all found they enjoyed the jobs Shiro gave them and were grateful for the lunch Hunk and Tyss prepared; potato salad, BLT’s, and lemonade.

 

It was evening when shit hit the fan.

 

Shiro, Allura, Pidge, Hunk, and Lance fed all the horses since Tyss was breaking in horses and Keith was teaching. They had to admit, Tyss could go from looking like a goddess riding dressage on Allura’s horse to scaring the shit out of them when she lunges a horse that started rearing and still look indifferent. 

 

Keith was surprisingly good with the little kids he taught and managed to keep his relationship with some of the riders who were intentionally trying to seduce him professional without letting his girlfriend or his clients know he knew what they’re trying to do. 

They were watching Keith and Tyss try breaking in Red again who started to buck earlier when they noticed something; Tyss’ left knee wasn’t as stiff as her right.They wouldn’t have noticed it if it weren’t for the fact that they’ve been watching her ride all day. Keith was as stiff as a stick when they told him and even suggested for Tyss to come off and call it a day. Her response had been no since Red was being unusually good, so she wanted to be sure she wasn’t fooling them. 

 

Keith had set up a course for her to do; six foot wall at a canter, turn left and in six strides take the four foot oxer and then a five foot x-rail, make a sharp left and do the barrel oxer and then a sharp right to do the double x-rails, both at seven feet. She’d already done it and it was her second go around when they saw it.

 

Red had sped up to a gallop and forced them right instead of left after the wall.

 

“Tyss you have to bail!” Keith ordered but she shook her head, straightened her back, relaxed her legs and pulled back on the reigns. At first they thought she slowed her down to a canter before they entered the x-rail’s the wrong way, but Red decided to enter at a walking gallop and they saw the tenseness of her body. Tyss was in obvious pain and having to strain her body so much but she refused to bail.

 

“Shiro, get the lunge arena ready,” Keith said when he ran over to put on his gloves. “One of you, grab the first aid kit and the tractor, I have a really bad feeling about this,” He added, his eyes not leaving the rider for a moment.

 

At this point all the remaining riders that were there had gathered in worry. Shiro, Pidge, and Hunk had left to get what Keith asked, leaving Lance and Allura to witness what happened next.

 

Red stopped suddenly from the gallop ride she’d taken Tyss on and started bucking. She brought the woman ever so close to the double oxer where there just so happened to be pottery decorating the sides. Her foot was caught in the stirrup straps and Keith was cautiously getting closer for when she fell; hopefully into his arms if he got there in time.

 

He didn’t and the scream that came from him when she fell into the pot, hitting her head on the wooden parallel turned everything into slow motion. Allura and Lance had jumped the fence and Shiro was running, one of the clients opening the gate for him. Allura went to check on Tyss while the men cornered Red, trying to get her reigns in someone’s hand. 

 

Pidge slid under the fence with the med kit and made a beeline to where Allura had Tyss’ head in her lap, blood starting to soak her shirt and mat her hair. Hunk arrived with the bed of the tractor cleaned out and waited for them, gnawing his lip raw in worry.

 

Lance finally got the reign’s after they backed the mare into a corner and as soon as Shiro and Keith started taking her to be lunged, Keith ran over, tripping over his own feet to get where Allura and Pidge were treating his love.

 

Time seemed to return to normal but they all had to acknowledge one thing; Keith was crying. 

 

“Shit, shit, shit,” Keith cursed, following Pidge’s instructions to put pressure on her stomach until they cut away her shirt. 

 

“She might have a concussion after this,” Allura says, bandaging her head. 

 

“She can’t,” Keith says angrily and at first they thought he was going to bring up the competition but he doesn’t. “If she does we’ll have to look after her and she’ll actually kill us for that, prison be damned.” The shirt came off and Pidge visibly relaxed. 

 

“It’s just a cut, and it doesn’t look too deep, but it’s really long and might be wide enough to need stitches.” It was better than what Keith was expecting but still scary. Those pots weren’t exactly clean. 

 

“Okay, do you think you can stitch it up so we can move her?” Keith asks, trying his best to calm down. She’s had worse he keeps reminding himself.

 

“I could but it’s not sanitary. Her stitch might get infected here, so it’d be best to get her back to the house before Allura and I do anything.” Keith nods and without any effort, gently brings Tyss into his arms.

 

The riders open up the gate for them and they get into the tractor. Keith cradles her and runs his hands through her hair. 

 

“It’ll be okay, Keith,” Hunk tells him and even though he knows he’s right, he can’t help but worry.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When Pidge and Allura are finally done, Lance and Shiro step in the door.

 

“How is she?” Lance asks softly. Shiro gently rubs his brothers shoulder as he holds her hand.

“She’ll be fine for the most part, but it’s her head we’re worried about. If she hit hard enough to be incapacitated, she might have a severe concussion and that means we can’t do anything until she’s healthy.” It was sullen news but better than what it could be.

 

“I’ll start on dinner. Lance, Shiro, why don’t you two shower first?” Hunk says after a while, obviously wanting to give Tyss and Keith privacy. They all leave and Allura breathes out a sigh.

 

“I wish this could’ve been different,” She whispers and they all just look at her.

 

“Allura, you’re not the only one. He’s gone through a lot, trying to open back up to us after we ask him to come back to a life that nearly killed all of us at least twice, and suddenly his girlfriend is in a mini coma. Oh, let’s not forget we fucked up and stopped talking to him for five years. This is probably the best outcome possible right now,” Pidge snaps but looks away. “I’m sorry.”

 

“No, no, you’re right. It was unrealistic of me to think that everything would go without  a hitch. Shall we go help Hunk?” Pidge nods and they walk into the kitchen where Hunk sas happily humming.

 

“I’m just making cold wraps since I don’t know how well Tyss and Keith will be able to handle food right now,” They could tell Hunk wasn’t as chipper as normal but they don’t say anything. Around the same time, Shiro and Lance enter in clothes obviously not their own but again, no one says anything. Lance comes around and wraps his arms around Allura who just leans into him, enjoying the comfort.

 

“Remember when Pidge got mad that Matt called her a girl when she was a guy that day and Shiro had to tie them to different fence posts so no one would die?” Lance asks and they all burst out laughing. 

 

“Oh god, that was horrible. Your dad even put bits in our mouths so we’d be quiet during work hours,” Pidge groans and they laugh even more. Hunk hands them all two wraps and they start to eat, recalling memories from their time on the ranch.

 

“Wait, remember at our first show together and we had to leave early because Allura fell in mud, and when we got the results, turns out we all placed as champions and reserved champions?” Everyone quiets down with big smiles.

 

“Yeah. Wasn’t that when Pidge and Keith came out too?”

“Oh fuck, you’re right. So much went down that day.” 

 

“I hope we can go back to then.” No one knows who said it, but it’s obvious it’s mutual.

 

Seconds later, Keith walks in impassive and cold and catches a wrap thrown at him. 

 

“I’m heading to the tack shop real quick to get a back brace for Saturday. Let me know when she wakes up,” He says and walks right out before anyone can say anything to him. 

 

“He’s tearing himself up over this,” Lance observes and straightens up. “Well, Shiro and I fed the horses before we came in, so I don’t know what else we can do without disturbing Sleeping Beauty.” Allura sends him a look at the nickname Lance gave. 

 

“I don’t know. I was gonna suggest a drug fueled orgy for old times sake but I don’t think that’s something she wants to wake up to.” They all sounded agreement and think for a few seconds. 

 

“I saw a cow farm on our way here. We could always go cow tipping?” Lance suggests.

 

“Hell yeah, let’s go!” Pidge seconds and they all file out chanting cow tipping. Shiro takes one last look at Tyss before softly closing the door behind him.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Crack.

 

“S-Stop! Please!”

 

Crack.

 

“Red! Stop! Red!”

 

Crack. Crack.

 

“You’re just a slut. You’re here for my pleasure, so stop the act. We both know you’re a filthy masochist.”

 

Crack.

 

“No! Just stop! It hurts!”

 

Crack.

 

“No!”

 

“Tyss?”

 

Crack.

 

“No.”

 

“Tyss.”

 

Crack.

 

“Tyss!”

 

Tyss bolts upright, sweat plastering her hair and her head pounding. Her eye’s searched until she saw a man with a mullet watching her with worry.

 

Keith.

 

She surges forward and he brings her into his arms, stroking her hair and whispering to her. Tears falling down her face in big drops and hiccups spill from her mouth. Her back tingles and aches and her stomach lets her know it doesn’t like the sudden movement.

 

“He’s gone Tyss. He’s not going to hurt you again. No one will hurt you again,” Keith tells her over and over. He lets go for a second just to sit on the couch and bring her closer to him again. It made the sting in her stomach subside and the warmth his hands bring as he gently traces the scars on her back erases the tingling. They thought they heard the door open and close but pay no heed to it, their focus was only on the person in their arms.

 

“Breathe with me Tyss,” He tells her when he feels her hiccuping become irregular. He takes one of her hands and places it over his heart and takes a deep breath in. She follows as best as she can through the crying and slowly calms down. She rests her head on his chest as he strokes her head.

 

“You had me worried today,” He murmurs to her and she just nods. “Next time, bail when I tell you to,” He scolds but there's not any aggression behind it.

 

“Can I still perform Saturday?” She asks wearily. 

 

“Let’s see what Thace and Pidge say. We have to call him soon,” She just nods and closes her eyes, feeling safe and loved again.

 

“‘M sorry I’m broken. You should go for him, he’s not disfigured like me,” Tyss mumbles as she drifts off. 

 

“You’re not disfigured Tyss. You just have a lot of battle scars,” He tells her and catches sight of Lance trying to sneak around.

 

‘This is a bonding moment you ass,’ he mouths at him. 


‘Like I said, don’t remember it, it never happened,’ Lance mouths back and Keith just flips him off, going back to helping Tyss sleep.

Chapter Text

To say Thace was mad was an understatement.

 

“You’re doing what?” He asks, unnervingly calm through the video call. It was nine something at night and Tyss just woke up from her stress induced nap.

 

“I know we said we wouldn’t but we’re doing it to protect people,” Keith says while combing his fingers through Tyss’ hair, the girl still emotional after her nightmare.

 

“Keith, I know you’re doing it for a good cause but it will cause immense strain on her mental health, and in return it could permanently damage her and your relationship with her for the rest of your lives.” Keith pursed his lips and fell silent. He knew the risks and asked Tyss when she finally joined him in his room the other night. She was so certain that he thought she’d catch on fire from how passionate she was.

 

“We talked about it Thace. A long, in depth talk, and she wants to do it,” Keit tells him and she just hummed in his lap. Thace sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. 

 

“Tyss, you realise could trigger the nightmares and hallucinations again?” Thace asks and she nods. 

 

“Yeah, but it saves someone else from getting them. Besides, it’s not like i’m gonna be alone when I work. I’ll have Keith with me to protect me,” She slurs, clearly not sober. Thace raises an eyebrow at them at the display and Keith shrugs sheepishly. 

 

“Painkillers,” Keith says, not a full truth, not full lie. He couldn’t exactly say ‘it’s a drug my old coworker cooked up just now to numb her pain for long enough that she won’t bite my hand off in front of you.’ “I know you’re worried. I am too. I’d leave her here if I could, especially now that Kosmo is her service dog, but I’m scared she’s going to get stuck in such a bad state that even he can’t get her out.” Keith spills his worries to Thace who just nods. 

 

“I can’t change her decision, but if you do go through with this, update me as often as you can. If necessary we will video call so I can assess her, but you need to remember that breakdowns and nightmares will most likely become a regular thing.” Keith nods and Thace finally gives a faint smile. “Give Krolia and Kolivan my regards. I will talk to you both next month,” He says and hangs up the call, letting Keith finally slump. Tyss climbs more into his lap and just rests her head on his shoulder. The door creaks open and the gremlin sticks his head through. 

 

“How is she?” Pidge asks as he quietly pads in, the sounds of life downstairs filtering in.

 

“High as balls that’s for sure, but she’s been seeing fine and her pupils haven’t randomly dilated so I don’t think she has a concussion,” Keith tells while running a hand up and down her back. Pidge hums and crosses his legs. 

 

“‘Kay, that’s good. I think it’ll be a good idea for her to at most groom horses with Allura tomorrow and Shiro can take her spot or Lance can,” Pidge says, observing the two intently. Keith lets out a little sound to show he’s thinking.

 

“Probably Lance. Shiro’s terrified of doing anything other than western riding, remember? The horses that need riding tomorrow are all race horses and that was more Lance’s thing,” Keith says earning a thumbs up from Pidge. 

 

“Sounds like a plan. Now try and get her to sleep. She’ll feel better in the morning,” Pidge orders and Keith lets out a small laugh. 

 

“Okay dad,” Keith jokes and just a he leaves, Keith calls out to him. “Pidge? Thank you. Really.” The hacker just gives a genuine smile before closing the door.

~~~

The next day, the same morning routine ensues, the only change in Tyss’ wardrobe; instead of being in basic riding attire, she was in Adidas sweatpants and a red crop top to reveal her bandaging. Her excuse to Keith when he first came down was, ‘it’s easier to change the dressings like this.’  

 

When the others came down they noticed the scarring on her back and stomach, but were quickly shut down by Keith.

 

“I can bring out water and stuff to everyone and also give the shetlands a brush and bath,” Tyss suggested and Keith looked unsure. 

 

“Take Kosmo with you. I’d feel better about,” Keith says and glances at the sleepy shepherd lying on the wood. Tyss laughs slightly and sets a bowl of food down for him. 

 

“It’s also Thace’s orders but okay Keith,” Tyss teases and plops herself right onto his lap. 

 

“Oo, Keith is getting some,” Lance teases, earning an elbow from Allura. Keith just glares as them as Shiro explains what they’ll be doing. Everyone fuels up on coffee before they go out to feed the monsters, Tyss staying behind to prepare lemon water bottle. When they come back Tyss is already chugging two painkillers and clutching her side.

 

“I think it’s best if you stay here and take it easy. If you don’t heal properly you can’t compete,” Allura suggests and forces the girl onto the couch while everyone grabs their bottles and leaves..

 

The first half of the morning is spent with no sign of Tyss outside and everyone cranking while the closer they get to noon, the stronger the smell of goat becomes. When they all come in for lunch, the smell of goat, bayleaf, and thyme hitting them hard. 

 

“Goat water?” Keith asks while the others grab silverware and he refills bottles.

 

“What the hell is goat water?” Pidge asks and Hunk seems to sparkle at the mention of the dish. 

 

“It’s like this soup of goat meat, carrots, potatoes, yams, yucca, and depending on the family and island, it can be spicy. From the looks of it you used West Indian thyme?” Hunk asks as he helps dole out the food. Tyss nods and smiles during Hunk’s rave on why that type of herb was superior. 

 

With their bowls of the Caribbean food, they pile onto the porch and sit on the stairs. Kosmo pads over to them and lays next to Tyss who just stares out into the distance. 

 

“Damn, this is good goat water,” Lance compliments and Hunk nods while Keith smiles smugly. “This is better than what I got at the markets in Cuba.” The compliments bring a red tint to Tyss’ cheeks who just looks away. 

 

“Thank you. I had nothing else to do and I haven’t made it in a while,” She mumbled before checking her phone. “Hope you guys don’t mind, but I have to go out. I’ll do the dishes when I get back,” She says while getting up and bringing her bowl inside. 

 

“Okay, but take the bike. I need the truck to bring ‘round the trailer,” He says before she comes back out and kisses his cheek. 

 

“I’ll be back before sunset,” She says and waves at them before going to the little area designated as a parking lot.

“Where does she go?” Allura asks and Keith just shrugs as the motorcycle engine revs up.

 

“Be damned if I know. She goes wherever as long as she just texts me every thirty minutes,” Keith says. “Before you say anything, that was her request. I’m not gonna hold her captive,” Shiro hums thoughtfully before getting up. 

 

“Alright, lets finish up and I’ll help Keith pack up the trailer while you feed them,” Shiro says and takes some of the empty bowls up into the house. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By the time Tyss comes back, everything is done and situated for tomorrow and Hunk already made dinner.

 

“Hey Tyss, you hun-” The door to Keith and her shared bedroom slams shut. “Gry?” Keith trails off everyone frozen midbite. 

 

“Okay then. Someone’s angry,” Lance remarks and Keith excuses himself from the table. He pads up the stairs and knocks on the door. 

 

“Tyss? It’s Keith.”

 

“Not right now Keith. I don’t want to lash out at you.” She says from the other side and Keith just sighs.

 

“Tyss, please,” He says begs and when he gets no response, he comes down. “Allura, Pidge, do you think you can talk to her? She’s not letting me in,” He asks them. They could tell he was upset but didn’t want to force himself on her. “She might open up to you two or even Hunk, but she just can’t bottle this up, especially before a competition.”

 

“Keith, we’ll talk to her, so breathe,” Pidge says, uncharacteristically soft. Allura rests a hand on his shoulder. 

 

“We may have not reached out before, but we will now. She’s part of this family too,” Allura tells him before getting up. They head up to the door and knock. 

 

“It’s Allura and Pidge. Are we allowed in ?” There’s no response for a bit but then the door opens. 

 

“Don’t tell Keith or Shiro,” She tells them firmly, Kosmo nuzzling her legs.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Wait, you and Adam are finally married? When were you planning on telling me?” Keith yells, Lance and Hunk laughing their asses off while Shiro scratches the back of his neck.

 

“Uhh, soon? But the thing that stopped us telling you sooner was Adam was deployed and we wanted it to be together,” Shiro laughs nervously before taking a swig of beer. 

 

“And you two, when are you guys planning on getting engaged?” Keith asks Hunk and Lance. The talk about weddings and engagements had Keith hyper aware of the little black box in Shiro’s room. 

 

“Hm, I’ll propose to Allura if Hunk can kiss Shay infront of us,” Lance says smugly, raising his beer bottle to Hunk.

 

“I’ll kiss Shay when Pidge and Romelle finally come out of the closet,” Hunk retorts and Keith chokes on his beer. 

 

“Holy shit, Romelle and Pidge are a thing?”

 

“Yeah. Someone needed to keep the demon baby in check, and Romelle was the one who decided to do it,” Lance explains which earned a hearty laugh from Keith and a smile from Shiro.

 

“Lance, that’s not a very nice thing to say about them,” Shiro said, but there’s obviously no real menace behind the words.

 

“Anyway, you never finished telling us how you and Tyss met. C’mon man, you have to give us every detail considering you got someone like that ,” Hunk says, clearly a tipsy at the least. Lance agrees aggressively with him and Keith looks to Shiro for help, who just shrugs.

 

“Ugh, fine. But don’t bring it up to her that I told you the full story,” Keith resigns.

 

-Four and half years ago-

“Keith! Where do you want me to put Kaltenecker?” James calls from the stables. Keith momentarily looks at him before going back to the girl in the arena.

 

“Put him in Atlas’ stall. Someone’s coming to buy Areum so he’ll take her stall once the agreement is settled!” Keith calls back and barely pays mind to Ryan’s cat calling at a practically shirtless James.

By the time Kinkade and Griffin have helped him feed everyone, it’s sunset. Kosmo won’t stop barking and the forest and the three of them don’t know why.

 

“You think maybe he heard gunshots?” James asks as they approach the shepherd. Keith shakes his and kneels by his dog.

 

“Private property and the closest neighbors are at least ten minutes away,” Keith dismisses before Kosmo tears into the forest. “Shit! Stay here, I’ll go grab him,” He curses and dashes after him.

 

He follows the paw prints in the dirt, but once he hears a scream, his legs book it into overtime. Shit, what if someone’s lost and Kosmo bit them? Keith thinks in fear and the faint smell of blood hits his nose when he finally sees a tuft of Kosmo’s fur. Thoughts come to his mind as he steps in but they’re immediately stopped.

 

Kosmo had a girl with deep red hair, covered in blood, wearing a torn, oversized, black shirt, exposing lacey lingerie, pinned to the ground by her neck. From what Keith could see, she was in excellent shape, her abdomen bearing the outline of abs and muscles prominent on her arms and legs. He would’ve thought she was a robot or something until he saw the oozing cuts, darkening bruises, and the emblem of Galra tattooed onto her thigh disfiguring her tan skin.

 

“Holy fuck. Kosmo, off,” Keith commands and kneels beside the weeping girl. “Hey, look at me,” Keith demands softly but firmly. Her head turns to him and he nearly gasps; her eyes, an unusual shade of teal, were weeping tears and bloodshot. Her face was the only unmarked thing but that only infuriated Keith. 

 

“I-I’m… scared,” She whimpers and cries out when Keith scoops her up as gently as he could. 

 

“Kosmo, get Ryan and James,” Keith orders and the dog leaps into action. He starts walking while trying to be as still as he could. “I know you’re scared, but you need to stay awake. Tell me about yourself, or anything in general, just stay awake,”Keith commands her. 

 

“My name is Netyss Cane,” She pushes out weakly. “I used to be an assassin for Galra, but I went AWOL two years ago,” It was still weak, but came out more confident as she noticed the trees clearing. “Ever since I’ve been doing mercenary work.” Keith could feel guns digging into his stomach but he couldn’t set her down to disarm her. Those crucial moments could be what kills her or saves her.

 

“T-Today, I ha-ad a job-b,” She stutters out with the tears flowing fresh and her body shaking. 

 

“Netyss, breathe. Your panicking and that’s bringing your heart rate up,” Keith says calmly. She does as he orders and the shaking stops.

 

“There he is!” Ryan yells when Keith finally enters the clearing. 

 

“I’ll go call Krolia. Kinkade, help Keith,” James orders and Ryan runs over.

 

“I need you to go prep the guest room and bring the medical kit up there. You’ll need to start cleaning her cuts while I get her fresh clothes,” Keith tells him and he nods. At least he remembers how to take orders,  Keith thinks thankfully. “Netyss, stay with me. What about that job today?” Keith asks her as he brings her to the house.

 

“W-When I kil-ll someo-one I norm-mall-ly sleep-p wit-th t-them fi-irst so th-hey’r-re not-t as-s lik-kely to-o sus-spect-t me-e,” She stutters with harsh breathing. She cocoons herself closer to Keith and tries to take deep breaths. “H-He blind-d-fo-lded me-e an-nd sta-arted wh-hip-pping me-e, e-eve-en when-n I-I safe-e word-ded. H-He cut s-swirls in-nto m-me af-fter an-nd l-left me the-ere w-w-hil-le he-e sho-ow-were-ed.”Her stuttering and crying was getting worse and he still had to take her up the stairs.

 

“Netyss, this might hurt, so grab onto me,” Keith says and starts climbing. She gasps and grips his shirt for dear life. He sees the open door and rushes into it with Ryan already wetting a cloth with alcohol. 

 

“Be careful how you touch her. I think she might have a panic attack,” Keith says as he gently places her on the bed. She cries out at the change of position but Ryan is already soothing her with words. Keith runs to his room to get her a fresh shirt and sweatpants and runs into James.

 

“Your moms gonna be here in a few. I asked her to bring fresh underwear for her,” He said and Keith let go a sigh of relief. 

 

“Thank you,” He says and chuckles. “Good thing all three of us are gay,”Keith says and James couldn’t help but laugh too. 

 

“And your mom’s straight,” He adds and they walk back to the room. 

 

“James, cut off her shirt, Keith, try to soothe her. She seemed most comfortable with you and the next few cuts are gonna hurt like a bitch,” Ryan says and Keith leaves James with the clothes as he goes opposite of Ryan to hold Netyss’ hands. 

 

“Netyss, listen to me. We’re going to clean your cuts and get you in fresh clothes. My mom’s going to be here with fresh underwear for you in a few minutes,” Keith tells her while trying to keep his voice level. He sees her nod faintly before Ryan puts a soaked cloth to a wound on her back. It brings out a scream from her and Keith is there, whispering encouragement to her. Kosmo starts yipping and he hears someone running up the stairs.

 

“Last one, then we need to start bandaging her,” Ryan directs as Krolia barges in. 

 

“Let me check some stuff first,” She says and shoos them out. After a few minutes, she lets them back in and Netyss was in a bralette and boxers that looked like they literally just came out of the pack. 

 

“She’s ready to be bandaged. From what James told me, I needed to check for any tears to make sure it wasn’t that forced on her.” The three of them carefully start wrapping and covering her wounds while she just looks at her lap. 

 

“Why are you helping? I just told the long haired one I kill people for a living,” She finally asks after James gets her into the clothes. 

 

“I trust my son’s judgement, and assuming your as good as an assassin as you look, you could’ve killed him in the forest, lured these two in, then killed them and not leave behind any trace,” Krolia says softly.

 

“Everyone deserves a second chance. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself knowing we could’ve given it to you.” Keith leans against the wall but doesn’t miss her lone tear. 

 

“Thank you..”

-Present-

Keith left out the fact that she used to be part of Galra and how he called Shiro on a tangent because he thinks he’s at least bisexual now.

 

Lance lets out a whistle

 

“Damn dude. That’s horrible, not gonna lie,” Hunk says and jumps when a knock on the archway is heard. They turn to see the girls there, Tyss in one of Keith’s hoodies. 

 

“I think we should all get some rest. Gotta be up early tomorrow,” Keith says, trying to mask his worry. She never wears his jackets unless she felt trapped or scared. 

 

Or needed to destress via a scene.

 

“Keith-” Shiro starts but stops when he sees how tense Keith is. “Yeah. Remember, comp days are big,” He says stiffly and bids everyone a goodnight. Slowly, everyone else does the same, leaving Tyss and Keith in the living room. Keith sits back and looks at Tyss. It was obvious she needed to destress but it concerned Keith about her methods. 

 

“You know we can’t do this as often as we are for a method of destressing,” Keith says and she just tilts her head down. 

 

“I know, but I already packed my punching bag and locked up the piano,” She says softly and Keith feels his heart tightened. 

 

“Come here,” He orders and she comes to him immediately. Tyss sits on his lap, straddling his hips and just resting her head on his chest. 

 

“How you treated me earlier wasn’t okay,” He says evenly with his hands running through her hair. 

 

“I know sir,” She mumbled into his chest. 

 

“So why should I even do this?” He snarls, his grip on her hair tightening enough for it to tingle and almost hurt. 

 

“There’s no reason why you should sir. Not after my behavior,” She gasps out with her cheeks bursting into flames. Keith smirks and tilts her head up before capturing her lips.

 

He bites on her lower lip hard enough to split it and he deepens the kiss as soon as the bite draws a whimper from her. She whimpers into his mouth as his hands slid down to her hips and he digs his nails into her skin. The pain creates a moan from her and Keith shivers at the sound. 

 

“Go upstairs and wait for me. I have to lock up,” Keith demands after they part for air. Without hesitation, she runs up the stairs and Keith smiles to himself.

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The morning of the competition, Pidge is slamming on doors, gathering her friends at least fifteen minutes earlier then what Keith told them to be up at. 

 

“We’re gonna wake the cis heteros up,” Pidge tells them and Lance high fives her. 

 

“I’m staying out of this. Allura, Shiro, you guys joining me?” Hunk asks and the two unanimously agree and head downstairs. 

 

“Pussy’s,” Lance insults and the two snicker as they approach the door. 

 

“Wake up sleepy heads!” Lance screams and kicks open the door. Tangled in the bed sheets was Tyss with her back facing them. They falter when they see thick, pale lines maring it but go back to how they were. She groans and they laugh before Keith sits up, making the sheets fall down to reveal more than what they bargained for; practically nude bodies and angry red lines covering Keith’s chest, arms, and back. If Lance wasn’t so embarrassed right now, he would’ve admired the art that is Keith Kogane.

 

“What the fuck guys?” He grumbles and they run out laughing down to the safety of Shiro.

 

After they all eat, Tyss unable to look Lance and Pidge in the eye, she stands up.

 

“Allura, can I get your help with my hair while they pack up the trailer? I need to braid and I’m not very good with braiding buns,” She asks and Allura smiles warmly and follows her up.

 

“I hope you’re ready to die tonight,” Keith says calmly once they leave and Pidge just smiles at him. 

 

“Try me bitch,” She says and Keith just feint throws his butter knife at her. Hunk shrieks and they all laugh at hm.

 

“Not funny! You guys know how good Keith is at impaling people,” He whines and Pidge snickers.

 

“Not just with knives-” “Pidge I will actually cut you open with this and not feel the tiniest bit of remorse,” Keith snarls and Pidge reluctantly raises his hands in defense. “Fine, fine,” She resigns and Keith smirks in victory and places his mug in the sink.

 

“Are shows still the same?” Shiro asks and Keith nods and heads to put his boots on. 

 

“The only difference is this show is the kind that you’d see billionaires at,” Keith explains and steps out the door.

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“Tyss you ready? Your dressage coats in the truck already!” Keith calls and her and Allura burst out. 

 

“Yeah! We had to repierce my ears!” She calls and everyone couldn’t help but stare at how clean pressed she looked. “Whose going in what cars?” She asks and Keith gestures to one of the trucks. 

 

“You, me, Lance, and Allura are going in this one, Pidge, Hunk, and Shiro are going in the other. Pidge demanded that all the PDA be kept to one car,” Keith explains and opens the front passenger for Tyss.

 

“Such a gentleman,” She jokes. “Be safe you guys!” She calls to the others before Keith closes the door. The others stare at him with smirks.

 

“You’re so whipped,” Hunk teases before jumping into the front of the other truck. 

 

“Hunk’s right. You’re the definition of in love,” Shiro joins and Keith groans.

 

“Fuck you,” He yells.