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Out of the Bag

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Shiro found the adorable little cat sleeping on his porch one day.

It was a thin, small, furry thing and immediately Shiro loved it. He promptly brought out a bowl of water, and some chopped up chicken for it to eat. When he tried to pet it though, it bit him and ran off. Shiro figured he’d never see the cat again.

Well, until the next day, after he came back from his job and he found the cat waiting again. With a smile, Shiro had let the cat back in. It left that night, through an open window, but popped back in the next day. It waited for Shiro to fill his bowl with water, and then waited just as patiently for him to go to the store to get him some proper cat food. It was a bit odd, but Shiro simply chalked it up to it being an unusually smart cat that he’d stumbled on.

Unusually smart didn’t even cover half of what the cat was capable of, honestly. It used the toilet instead of litter, it knew how to use the remote. The cat  could even open the fridge though he only did it when Shiro needed it open, and he could open the balcony porch door unprompted. Shiro was certain the cat belonged to someone; how could such a well-trained cat not belong to someone? But to his surprise, the vet couldn’t find a chip, and the cat didn’t have a collar to begin with.

Also, it was a boy. Not spayed, but for some reason the doctor noted that the cat didn’t seem interested in any of the female cats. Underdeveloped, perhaps. In any case, he was sent home with instructions to keep an eye on signs of the cat spraying territory. Otherwise, there seemed to be nothing else to do but to let his unexpected new cat stay for as long as he liked.

One night, soon after the cat had decided to make himself comfortable and stay in his home for what looked to be the long-term, Shiro was petting him, looking out the window. The rain was pouring down, and had been preventing his daily morning run for several days. He sighed, and wished out loud that it wouldn’t rain so much. Then, miraculously, the next week after that was incredibly sunny. He couldn’t believe his luck. He was able to get his running in before his meetings at the Garrison. They were considering candidates for the next long-term shuttle mission, and this one would be going to study kuiperoids beyond Pluto, starting from Pluto’s moon.

Which was good for him, because he wouldn’t have much longer at the Garrison. Few people knew that space darling Takashi Shirogane had a body that was slowly but surely betraying him. He was dying;not right then and there, but he knew the medical science for his condition. He knew what the prognosis was. And for years he’d hidden the secret from the world; it was relatively easy to do when your parents were long dead and you were an only child. An orphan, who kept his own counsel, kept his medical records as secret as possible, and didn’t trust easily with what he was certain was his deepest secret.

He did everything he could to stave off the worst effects of his disability. He wore his nerve-stimulation bracelets every day, knowing they wouldn’t work for much longer. He ran and worked out as often as possible, keeping himself in the kind of shape that made bikini models blush; he ate healthy, didn’t drink, and didn’t smoke. He also kept his record as squeaky clean as possible so as to always be above suspicion discipline-wise. Discipline problems meant the Garrison could look into an officer’s personal medical records from any time in their lives, and Shiro refused to let that happen.

If only there was a way to reverse the inevitable, he mused. He knew everything he was doing were stopgaps. There would soon be a point where the Garrison doctors would figure it out and would stop him from flying and everyone would know the truth. What would he do after that? He wouldn’t be able to go back into space. He wouldn’t be given a potato gun to shoot, much less be allowed to fly. As time went by, he would slowly but surely lose his freedom. He hated the idea, even as he came to terms with the fact that life would be very, very different in the future. He wondered if he would be able to take care of this new friend of his as time went by, much less himself.

After all, for all his pushing, for all his hard work to keep himself as fit as possible, he knew there wouldn’t be a miracle to save him. After all-there was no such thing as magic, and he could already feel his arm starting to tingle.



Something told Keith that Shiro had no damn clue.

In his experience as a half-Galra cat Doppel, it was just a way of life to hide his true nature from the world. There was another good reason to hide as well; he was a free Doppel as well, unattached to anyone, and living far outside of the safety of his enclave. Naturally, it was dangerous to live the way he did. Witches clawed over him. Other familiars targeted him. Hunters tried to kill him. Being a free Doppel was practically an invitation to be harried and besieged. It was better to be alone.

And as a Galra Doppel? It was well-known in the supernatural community that Galra-even Galra half-bred with a human (and boy was his dad surprised when Keith was born!)-possessed incredible power that could enhance any magic user’s abilities multiple times over. In particular, it was said, that if one could catch a Galra Doppel and make them their familiar, they could gain its physical power. They could have the strength of ten men without breaking a sweat; they could do even more incredible physical feats when actively using magic. A man like Takashi Shirogane could easily become superhuman, or more, if he could connect his life force to Keith’s.

Hence the biting. Keith could sense the raw magical power inside the man. The food had been nice, as was the place to crash, but Keith had naturally assumed Shiro had intended to use the acts of charity as leverage for power, or possibly even kill him for his energy. After all, it’s what more insidious and amoral witches did. They didn’t need to have a familiar willingly agree to serve them if they had the magic to back up their intentions. And an independent familiar, who had yet to unlock their human form, was all too easy to snatch up, and all too quick to disappear without a trace.

But the chicken had been really good to eat after a week of garbage surfing, and Keith hadn’t sensed much in the way of malevolence in the man. In fact, Keith realized as he entered the threshold of the apartment building, there wasn’t much in the way of magical activity in the apartment at all.

Then Shiro wished for sunnier days, and Keith could see the glow in his eyes as the magic inside him clearly decided to do its master’s bidding, the ambient energy in the building spiking for the first time. Yet, at the same time, there was no recognition in the human’s eyes as to what he did.  When he woke up to a week of sun and warm weather, there was no patting himself on the back for his power. No looking for a spell book to see what he just did. No creating fire, or water, or anything remotely basic. Nothing. He just happily blessed his good luck and went running.

Keith, meanwhile, couldn’t believe his luck-he wasn’t sure what kind of luck it was, but he knew it was luck of some kind. Of all the people a Doppel like him could end up with as a roommate (Keith refused to call Shiro his owner, because he wasn’t someone who would be owned, thank you very much), it had to be a Magiekeine.

He’d heard of them as a child, first in furtive whispers and then in bedtime stories of magic gone wrong and the dangers of being a familiar. Magiekeinens were practitioners of witchcraft who hadn’t been awakened to their heritage, having never been made aware of their latent powers, for whatever reason. Thus, they were unaware they had them, even while they subconsciously used them. And much to Keith’s worry, Takashi Shirogane was a very strong Magiekeine.  The fact he could change the weather in the blink of an eye was a little bit worrisome-it implied he had the blood of the Altean coven running through him.  

Really, Keith shouldn’t have stayed with Shiro once he realized all of that. A Magiekeine could be as dangerous as any malevolent witch; they were known to unwittingly cause massive damage due to their uncontrolled and undisciplined powers, especially as the years went by and the buildup of raw magic in their body increased. This was especially true in areas where normal humans were known to inhabit. Especially if they were of Altean descent, as Altean blood produced some of the strongest magic-wielders in known existence.

Indeed, Shiro’s illness, the physical degeneration that he was trying to stave off, sounded like a classic case of malefic repressive disorder. It was a well-known genetic problem in some bloodlines, where untapped magic starts to eat up the Magiekeine from the inside out trying to feed itself. Eventually, Shiro would die if not given the chance to tame his power. Or explode from having so much untapped power beyond his control. Or both. Probably both.

This was all the more reason for Keith to just up and leave, get as far away as he can, and meet up with the Marmora enclave as soon as possible. Get to safety. Inform them of what he found and let them handle it. Altean blood was dangerous. The Archwitch, magic’s greatest enemy, had threatened the world with it not even a century before with her power and hatred, and almost succeeded in destroying it. After that, Altean witches were very closely monitored, sometimes to the point of harassment. How this one managed to slip under the radar was anyone’s guess.

But…Shiro made Keith turkey and venison on occasion. And let him sleep in the bed. And let him use the toilet. And always let him outside when he wanted to go walking, and accepted all his gifts when he killed them without yelling, and his hands knew just where to pet behind his ears and under his chin—

Curse my being a cat Doppel! Augh!

He really shouldn’t have stayed. He could blow his cover at any moment-he was constantly tempted to talk to Shiro whenever he held him through the night, petting him with his gentle hands, and confiding in him about his thoughts. His fears. His illness. These were things he shouldn’t have needed to know. Things he didn’t need to comfort this man on. But, like a naïve and pampered idiot, he snuggled up to Shiro and purred.

Keith knew where his enclave was. He could go back, reunite with his mother, have a nice saucer of Groggery rum, and forget the fact he’d been acting like a housecat for a Magiekeine for days. Days that eventually turned into weeks, and weeks that turned into months.

Being at Shiro’s side was the worst idea he ever had. But for whatever reason, and it was absolutely not because he was growing attached to Shiro, Keith was staying anyways.



Being at Shiro’s side was the stupidest, but simultaneously best idea he’d ever had. Maybe. The jury was still out.

Keith had been prepared for a lot of things due to his current situation. For Shiro to blow up and take him with the blast, for example. Or for him to be spirited away by another witch. Or thrown in jail. Or be run over by a scooter, or shot by lightning. Those were normal things to happen when it came to free-agent cat Doppels like him.

But Keith had only really been taking into account what would happen to him, and not so much what could happen when it came to his all-but-in-name roommate. Thus, he never suspected that Shiro would be targeted for kidnapping by a quiznacking cult. Because of course it was a cult. When wasn’t it?

This particular cult was also a nasty one, from what Keith could remember. The Komar were a group looking to revive the Archwitch after all these years, so that they could, of course, take over the world. They were a mix of humans, witches, monsters and familiars. All of them were well-organized, well-prepared, and clearly dedicated to the point of fanaticism to their cause. Or, in the case of most of the humans, clearly brainwashed to the cause.

Nor were they unprepared for what they planned to do. Magical wards surrounded the abandoned house they had established as their base, which lay deep in the desert and many miles beyond the Garrison. Effectively hiding the activities of the cult from prying eyes. The house was empty, but there was a secret passage accessible through a false wall. The false wall led to a set of stone steps, and then to a deep cavern, wards dotting the way. At the end of the cavern, surrounded by milky-white stalagmites, was an altar hewed and polished from obsidian plucked from the heart of a volcano, with more wards surrounding it to guarantee no one could find it.

A dozen canisters holding bright white quintessence floated in the air as Keith sneaked into the cave. To his horror, he realized they were the remnants of the souls of other Altean wizards previously slain, no doubt by dark and profane rituals too terrible to think about. The Archwitch’s own personal coven, the Druids of the Four Directions, floated around, their eyes glowing behind their masks. Their bony hands silently directing their loyal Komarian servants and thralls to do their will.

All was silent, save for one person’s shouts that echoed through the cave.

“Let me go!! Please!!”

Tied on the stone altar, naked, bruised, and struggling angrily against the magic bindings that held him, was Shiro. Keith was glad he managed to sneak into the van that had snatched Shiro on his run, or he never would have been able to track Shiro after he left town. He hid in the shadows, his fur concealing him. The amount of magic in the area ensured that it would be harder for him to be sensed by the foul people in that place.

“Why are you doing this?!” Shiro shouted, and fought his restraints to no avail; the druids just bound him further with magic. “I don’t—this doesn’t make sense! Who are you!? What…do you want from me!?”

Naturally, no one responded to him. They simply continued their preparations, the quintessence marks on their masks glistening in the faint light. Keith waited, simply crouching in the shadows, biding his time. He couldn’t call the Mamora. He couldn’t leave. He would have to save Shiro alone.

That was when one of the druids beckoned to a human holding a lock box with gold and black enamel on its frame. Blankly, obediently, the human servant bonelessly bowed to the druid as they placed the box on the floor. Slowly they opened it, and Keith couldn’t suppress the gasp that came out of his mouth. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice it over Shiro’s shouts, which increased in volume and desperation as the item within was lifted up into the air for the druid to see.

The Knapt of the Emperor-?!

Keith’s eyes widened at the sight. The Emperor had been the last ruler of the unified state of Galra Doppels, called the Daibazaal. He had also become the Archwitch’s Galra familiar, to the point where they had even become lovers. It was said that the Emperor had his own arm cut off, and the bone was fashioned into a terrible weapon that left thousands slaughtered  in its wake. Its touch was said to be brittle as wood, yet sharper than any sword. Each death it caused made it stronger and more lethal. It was said to be strong enough to cleave entire countries in half by the time the Archwitch was finally defeated, and the Emperor slain.

It was that unholy amorous alliance that had nearly destroyed the world. It helped to sever the trust between Galra Doppels and Altean witches. In turn, the trust that had once been between all witches and magical creatures was weakened as well. It was a direct result of the broken trust that caused the Alteans to be hunted and monitored due to their blood. It was also what caused the Galra to splinter into separate enclaves, where once they were united under one banner. 

The druid raised the cursed weapon out of its box, still sheathed in its human-skin scabbard, showing it to the flock, who let out a shared susurrus of approval. Keith felt his hackles go up at the sight. He could feel the malevolence coming from the weapon, even from afar. He knew the Knapt craved blood, even in its dormant state, and would easily seek it out if allowed.

He had to do something, now, before it was too late.

Praise to the Archwitch. The ragged voice of the druid suddenly echoed through Keith’s mind and the cavern. Praise to her, and to the weapon that shall bring her back.

Quietly, Keith moved through the shadows. Everyone was looking over towards the druid, too busy being either enraptured or ensnared by its words. The other three druids were looking over towards the entrance to the cave, clearly to ensure no interference. Keith was free to creep up to the altar as stealthily as he could.

This unawakened human carries within him the blood of Altea. The druid continued, as Keith sneaked over towards the shadow of the altar. The blood of purest magic. Through him we shall restore our eternal mistress. His shall be the vessel of her revival.

“You’re-!” Keith froze as Shiro reacted to the information with a shout of protest. “You’re insane! What are you talking about!? Magic isn’t-!”

The druid didn’t respond. Instead, its eyes flashed, and Shiro’s throat glowed for an instant. Shiro’s mouth squeaked, then stopped making sounds entirely. He wasn’t unconscious, far from it. He looked at himself in horror as his lips moved, but nothing came out. Even opening his mouth wide while shutting his eyes to scream produced nothing.

A silencing spell. Bad news for Shiro, but good news for Keith. He would be able to speak to Shiro without his presence being inadvertently revealed by Shiro talking to him.

The druid continued its prayer as Keith hopped up onto the altar, rubbing against Shiro’s arm with a purr. Instantly Shiro’s head whipped towards him, and his eyes widened as he mouthed what Keith could only assume was a ‘what the-!? ’. Shiro clearly hadn’t realized that the creature that he saw as a pet, had managed to get here as well. The fear in his eyes also seemed to increase at the realization of Keith’s presence.

It was strangely comforting to know Shiro cared for him so much, especially in light of what Keith was about to do. He quickly moved in towards Shiro’s ear, his whisper a cat-like hiss.

“Contract with me.”

Shiro’s head whipped around to look at Keith. Eyes the width of saucers as he slowly mouthed an utterly silent, utterly flabbergasted ‘WHAT!?

“Do it!” Keith could hear the Knapt being unsheathed from its scabbard, bone scraping against hardened leather. He could also hear his and Shiro’s heartbeat both speed up, with Shiro’s breathing increasing in pace as well. “Please, I’ll explain later, I promise! Just-just nod your head or mouth yes or show me any sign of consent you want!”

If Shiro said yes, if Shiro assented, Keith knew he would no longer have his freedom. He’d be tied to Shiro, for the rest of Shiro’s life. He would only have as much autonomy as Shiro would allow. If Shiro desired to take his life for any reason, he would have no choice but to submit. He would finally have a human form, yes, but only if Shiro let him use it. He would be beholden to do whatever favors Shiro asked of him, no matter how big or small they might be. He would be a proper familiar, he knew that could mean becoming little more than a slave.

“It’s…it’s the only way to save you from this…!” Keith hissed at Shiro, his voice becoming more frantic as the moments ticked by. “Shiro! Hurry!”

Assuming they lived through this ordeal, he and Shiro would most certainly be found out by the Marmoran enclave, if not all the Galra, in due time. They’d probably be jailed. Him for willingly concealing the existence an Altean blooded Magiekeine, and Shiro for not registering as one. Not forever, but the punishment was still daunting to think about. His mother would certainly disapprove of Keith’s decision. The bad blood between Alteans and Galra was not easily forgiven or forgotten. He might never be allowed to go back to his enclave ever again for his actions.

But this was Shiro. Shiro, who was so kind, and gentle and was a good man. Shiro, who took him in without question, and confided his secrets to him, and pet him and comforted him every night. Shiro, who even when inadvertently using his magic, never used it to harm. Shiro, who just yesterday had gotten him the best catnip toy to play with, and maybe it was the cat side of him talking, but…surely, a bad person wouldn’t give a cat a catnip toy!

He may have had Altean blood, and who knew how or why he had slipped through the cracks of the magical establishment. But Keith knew; Shiro didn’t deserve to die. Not to his illness, not to being exploded by his own power, and most certainly not to become the Archwitch’s puppet.

A final amen arose from the masses gathered. Keith could see the sword raise up, its color ivory. The spiral horned blade, sharp at the tip, began to glow purple. Time was running out, and if Shiro didn’t decide in the next ten seconds...

Shiro looked over at the sword, at the druid who was starting to float over towards the altar. Then, he turned towards Keith, his brows furrowed as he tightly shut his eyes.

Finally, he sucked his lower lip into his mouth, and gave a quick nod. Keith wasted no time and lunged forward towards Shiro’s wrist.

Oh Emperor, oh bring back our- The druid was ten paces from the alter when, suddenly, it let out a piercing psychic bellow. What is-GET AWAY FROM HIM, WORM!

The druids could teleport, and indeed it was almost instantly behind Keith, grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and ripping him away with an angry yowl. Shiro let out a cry of pain, and Keith let out a yowling shriek as he was thrown back-first into a stalagmite.

He looked up, dazed, at the druid as it approached him with the Knapt. He gave it a toothy, albeit bloody snarl. He didn’t intend to scare the monster off, that wasn’t going to happen. In any case, he’d probably not be able to harm a druid, especially not in his cat form.

Rather, it was a taunt. It was, after all, Shiro’s blood on his fangs. The druid’s yanking had merely turned the bite that Keith had intended into a bracelet line of gouged blood on Shiro’s inner and outer wrist. Already, Shiro began to glow with the tell-tale white aura of an Altean magic user, and Keith immediately felt the tug of Shiro trying to gather the sudden physical strength that he now possessed. A strength Shiro could sense inside of him, judging by the newly-born expression of wonder on his face.

The druid took a step back, letting out a ragged psychic hiss at the sight, then whipped around towards Shiro with the cursed weapon raised. All around, followers and brainwashed alike began to shout in alarm at the fracas. With a few cursory tugs, Shiro ripped the magical chains on his arms right out of their supports, and then yanked his legs out, causing all of the magic holding him down to snap and dissipate like mist. Bits of obsidian flew everywhere as the Knapt stabbed into the table, missing Shiro as he rolled off.

The agreement worked. The bond was established. Keith could feel Shiro’s power go into overdrive as the aura around him grew stronger and brighter. He was getting ready to fight, however hard it might be. Keith could do that, too. Stand by Shiro’s side. Shiro wouldn’t even need to ask. He would do it.

Just not as a cat. He began to glow bright red, and then-then he was no longer a cat.

He was a fully-bonded Doppel, and very much a pissed off one as well, as bright blue sparks began to shoot from his palms. No, not just sparks. Fire.

He could shoot fire, and the first victim of his new power was the face of the druid that dared to try and harm Shiro. With a shriek, the druid dropped the Knapt, and recoiled from the altar, claws on its face, as Shiro began to gather light into his own hands. With an impressive diagonal thrust, the light slashed into the robes of the druid as it tried to close in on him once more.

Keith grinned as he began to shoot fire at the frightened cultists. The ground began to rumble, and the air began to heat up, as Keith began to shoot more fire from his fingers towards those who would dare to harm Shiro.

His fingers. He had fingers.

He could get used to this.



“…So, I’m a witch. I’ve had the potential to use magic this whole time, and I was targeted by those...people...because I have superpowers...”

Shiro looked over at Keith as he wobbled around on his legs in a drunken fashion. He almost sounded disappointed as he wrapped the blanket around his waist, covering his private parts. Keith, meanwhile, remained naked as he tried to get a feel for his human legs. Walking on two legs was hard. Having no fur covering his body didn’t help, either, especially not in the middle of the desert in the dead of night.

“And you could talk the whole time.”

Keith slowly nodded as he shivered and staggered over towards Shiro. He and Shiro, along with the deprogrammed and now very confused humans that remained, stood in front of what had been an abandoned shack. Now, it was an abandoned shack that happened to be on fire, with a cave beneath that was being turned to cinders as well. The bright blue flames shooting up into the sky as it purged the area of the druids’ power.

The fire was totally his fault. Not that he regretted it. Far from it. The cavern and the fell altar needed to burn, and it just so happened that Keith, by connecting to Shiro, had abruptly developed those wonderful fire abilities. It happened, sometimes, that Doppels of strong witches gained their own magic. The Emperor had been an example. Now, Keith was as well, and while he had probably been a bit too trigger-happy with the power, it had stopped the ritual and prevented the return of the Archwitch. Not only that, he’d gained control of the Knapt, which was safely sheathed in the scabbard around his waist.

Sadly, the Druids of the Four Directions, despite their injuries, and some of their more fanatic followers had managed to escape in the confusion and heat. They would probably come back to reclaim the Emperor’s weapon from him, eventually. Or try to, at least. But not tonight. The loss of their Archwitch’s potential vessel, and a viable base of operations, had to have been a grave blow to the Komar. Hopefully, what happened was enough to make them think twice before engaging again so quickly.

“And now…now what?” Shiro looked down at his hands, clenching and unclenching them as he stared. “I…everything I thought I knew was a lie. Even me. Even you.”

That stung. Keith felt his cheeks redden as he looked away. It was true, after all. He could have been more open about what Shiro was, and what he was. He could have talked at any time. He could have easily saved Shiro from this whole situation to begin with. Now, he could only sigh and feel Shiro’s indignation through their newly formed bond.

“I know sorry isn’t going to cut it,” he murmured. “But…”


“…I liked living with you…as a cat.”

Keith took a deep breath, and looked back at Shiro through his bangs, fiddling with his hands as he did so. There was consternation in the new witch’s expression, as well as confusion.

“I…” he looked down at himself for the first time in this form. He was a very tall but thin human, his legs still shaky, alongside his hands. “I really liked living with you. You were so good to me, and I didn’t want to ruin the life you had, even if it was risky to let you live that way. Being a witch…being an Altean witch…there are a lot of restrictions. A lot of things they might have you do. It’s very different from being a normal person, from being what you were before. Heck, half the magical community is probably on their way now to arrest us both.”

Shiro’s eyes narrowed at this, and Keith could only shrink into himself. Shiro was angry and Keith knew all too well that he had a right to be.

“…You made me feel special.” Keith knew how pathetic he sounded. “You were wonderful and perfect and you never asked me for anything in return. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. I just…I guess I was just being a stupid cat in the end.”

There was silence from Shiro. Keith swallowed dryly and continued after a moment.

“…I can leave, and you can find a better Doppel. You don’t have to worry about me anymore. I can handle this alone.” Keith crossed his arms. “I mean-I’m the one who didn’t tell you, and I didn’t tell the authorities you existed. I technically forced you to contract back there, right? So that means I should be the one who gets in trouble for this, not you.”

“…You saved my life doing that, though.”

At that tone, Keith looked up. Shiro’s face did not seem as severe as it had been a few moments before.

“I…really wish you’d been honest to begin with about all of this.” Shiro ran a hand through his hair. “I wish…well, I wish a lot of things had been different for me, not just this. But, you weren’t trying to hurt me, were you?”

“No. Never.” The answer was almost instantaneous. “The idea of hurting you never crossed my mind.”

Shiro kept staring at him for several more moments. Scrutinizing him, studying him, making him want to squirm from his gaze. Then, finally, he held out a blood-encrusted hand with a smile.

“All right then. Let’s start over. Uh... My name’s Takashi Shirogane, but people call me Shiro.” Keith stared at the hand, bewildered. Was it really that simple for Shiro? Forgive and start over? “So…I never really got around to giving you a name when I thought you were just a cat, did I? I guess that’s a good thing. Having you tell me your name now is as good a time as any, right?” 

Keith could see the magic begin to twinkle in the distance, mingling with the stars in the night sky. Of course someone had noticed, once the magical wards were destroyed there was no way to avoid being sensed by the powers that be. It might be the Mamora, it might not be, but whoever it was that was coming wouldn’t take long to arrive. There was no point in running or fighting the inevitable; it would just make whatever was about to happen worse for the both of them.

Maybe they’d get lucky. Maybe giving whoever came the Knapt would be enough to save them from serious punishment. Maybe not. Well, in any case, staying with Shiro really hadn't been the worst idea, after all.

“…Keith. My name’s Keith.”

The smile on Shiro’s face at his name, though, along with a firm handshake and the other hand clasping over his, was warm. Keith could only smile back. It was just enough to make everything worth it, come what may.