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Pain in the Tail

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Keith was minding his own business when someone grabbed him by the arm and slammed him against the lockers.

"What do you want?" He glared at the three in front of him. He couldn't afford to get into a fight and they knew it. His last one with Griffin almost got him kicked out if not for Shiro. Shiro had vouched for him, but he wouldn't be able to save him if he got into another situation like that. And the odds were against him because people willingly jumped on him for being a troublemaker even when he wasn’t.

"What do we want?" The leader asked, green eyes glaring at him wickedly, "We want you gone. Everyone knows that you cheat. That's how you get such good scores despite the average grades."

Keith glared back but didn't say anything. Defending himself never got him anything besides bruises and scars and pain. Saying anything would just encourage them.

"Look at him being all silent…" The second one smirked before stepping closer, caging him into the locker behind him. Keith could feel himself shiver and hoped that his tail would not move. As it currently was, it was tucked into his pants like a thick belt around his waist. He couldn't let anybody see it. No one had a tail that was prehensile and definitely not one that had fuzzy purple hair on it. He’d be turned into an experiment if anyone knew.

"We'll have to do something about that," the leader grinned before pressing closer, making Keith back up, back hitting the locker behind him, "You can't fight us. We're going to make sure you get kicked out. Know how I think he cheats?"

"I bet he steals the answers," the third spoke up with a large predatory smile, stepping a foot closer. Keith was starting to feel trapped with each on a side.

"I say he rigs the sims," the second glared at him, dark blue eyes sharp, "He doesn't look smart enough for it but that can be fooled."

"Nah, none of those," the leader laughed darkly before his lips turned up into a grin, "I bet he cheats by doing the teachers favors."

Keith felt dread seize him. That was a lie. He never did anything for teachers other than the homework they assigned to the class. His chest tightened up at the thought as he hissed slightly.

"Oh, is Keef getting defensive?" The other smirked wickedly at him, "I know exactly what you do to get those scores. There's no way you can beat Shirogane's scores unless you were fucking with him. You’re getting better scores because of it."

Anger coursed through his veins at the suggestion. They had never done anything like that. Shiro and he were just friends who liked hanging out together. Shiro was with Adam anyway, and if Keith ever made a move - which he never would - on him, he'd let him down softly. Shiro would never do anything like that. Shiro was kind and supportive but strong too. And sure, Keith had a crush on the older. Who didn't? He felt warm whenever he was with Shiro and he could laugh more and enjoy himself and not worry that Shiro was secretly trying to expose his secrets for his own gain. It wasn't like that and Keith's stupid crush was just a stupid crush. It'd be gone soon.

"You're letting Shirogane fuck you every time you see him," the other grinned as fire flared through Keith, "What did you give him to get out of the mess of stealing his car?"

Cold fright hit him so hard he stopped breathing. How the fuck did he know? No one was supposed to know! Shiro said that it was confidential. That no one would know! That's the type of thing that could ruin his time here. It was bad enough that the teachers thought he was arrogant or lazy, but add in having stolen a car...Shiro’s car nonetheless...

"Who told that!" Keith spat out as the other three snickered.

"Oh, your good pal Griffin told me," Keith growled slightly at the name. Of course fucking Griffin told on him. He had been there that day and he absolutely despised Keith for some reason. Why had they not thought of the jerk when they went over stuff..."So...what did you have to do for Shirogane? Blowjobs? Let him wreck you? I bet you're still paying it off now still. Is that what you do every time you meet up? You let him use you like a slut? Don't you know Shirogane can get in big trouble if anyone found out?"

Keith huffed angrily before trying to hold back. His tail was beginning to rattle with his anger. His fists were begging to smash the other. He held back...barely…

Barely...

"Awww...Keef's too scared to move," the other teased before pushing forward, "Imagine if someone told Commander Iverson about such suspicious behavior…"

"Don't you fucking dare," Keith glared back, grinding his teeth sharply, "You're lying and you know it.”

“Lies, rumors, the truth,” the other grinned back, “They’re all the same.”

Keith finally snapped, springing forward with a yell. He got two punches to the three before one of them slammed him into the locker again. Intense pain smashed into his tail as his tailbone hit the locker hard. Before he could cry out, one of the others grabbed him and flung him into the same spot. Blinding agony coursed up his spine and all the way to the thin tip of his tail as he yelped loudly. He quickly lost awareness of time as everything whited out, pain too much in his back area. He had never ever hit his tail there before, and never this hard. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt.

It felt like he was zapped by fire-charged lightning. Every little nerve was like it had liquid lava pooling down into his back. He couldn't hear. He couldn't see. It was just agony.

And then he came back to the present.

He was lying on the floor, curled up with his hands over his face. His tail...was trying to unravel in his pants, needing to stretch. He forced it curl up on his leg, waiting for the pain that did come. Hissing softly, he rested his forehead against the cool floor. Someone was talking in the distance but it all sounded like background noise to him. His back still burned like it had been set on fire. Even flicking the tip of his tail bothered him a lot.

“Keith...here...buddy…” The voice filtered into his ears slowly as he finally looked up through his fingers.

It was Shiro above him. The older looked worried, face contorted with concern as he leaned down by him. His grey eyes watched him, looking over him as if trying to pinpoint where he was hurt. Keith gazed off to the side, not seeing the three other cadets anywhere in sight.

“Hey, you okay?” Shiro asked before placing his hand on Keith’s shoulder, “I saw them picking on you and got involved. They won’t be messing with you ever again. Iverson got called in. They're expelled for physically attacking you.”

Keith moved his hands away from his face. Moving to sit up, he almost fell back onto the floor as pain raced along his spine, his tail going numb. Ignoring the pain, he carefully pushed himself up before grabbing onto the locker nearby. A moment passed before his vision cleared enough for him to notice Shiro was right in front of him.

“Keith,” Shiro frowned before holding onto his shoul...wait, he was already holding onto his shoulders...when had that happened, “Where are you hurt?”

“I’m…” Keith slapped his hands away weakly before pushing away from the locker. He could barely feel his tail. He had to go before it got ideas and slipped past his pant leg and out of his boot, “I’m fine.”

"You don't look fine," the older stared at him before stepping back, which Keith was grateful for, "You're in pain, Keith. I can tell."

"I'm fine," Keith spoke with narrowed eyes, staring at the ground. His thumb moved over his fingers on his right hand. Just breathing sent terrible tingles down his body, "I just need a minute. Just...I just hit my tailbone. I'm fine."

"That's still painful," Shiro frowned before he went to hold onto Keith's wrist. Keith moved back a bit, wincing when his back flared. Shiro stopped mid-motion before dropping his hand, even more worried, "Keith, you can bruise your tailbone. That hurts like hell."

"You make it sound like you've had one before," Keith blinked, hoping Shiro would get distracted by the question, "When did you get one?"

"I may have accidentally smashed mine into my seat when coming down from the upper atmosphere on one of my missions. Hence why I'm a stickler for proper use of the equipment," Shiro nodded before shaking his head, "Keith, that's not going to distract me. I just...I'm just worried."

"I know," Keith crossed his arms in a self-hug. He could tell Shiro...but...he didn't feel like doing that yet, "But I'm fine. It doesn't hurt that much."

He took a step forward as if to prove his point. At the same time, pain stabbed at his tail, rushing all the way up his spine and over his shoulder blades. Keith cried out as he fell forward, landing in warm arms as Shiro held him up.

"Keith!" He shouted before frowning, "Keith! You're okay. Just breathe. We're going to see a doctor. For all we know, that bruised tailbone could be a fractured one."

"No!" Keith choked out before trying to push away from the other, "I can't."

"But Keith…"

"Just…" Keith swallowed thickly before resting his head on the other's shoulder, tears racing to his eyes as pain flashed through his body, "Just help me back to my room. I'll...I'll be fine. No doctor."

"Keith…" The older sighed softly before he grabbed under his arms, seeming to agree, "I'm taking you back to my place. If it gets worse, I'm getting someone to look at it. Injuries like this can mess with you for a long time. I don't want you to be in pain, okay?"

Keith nodded but didn't say anything. As they started their journey to the officer apartments, he bit his lip to avoid saying anything. Moving made his cadet jacket rub against his shirt, shifting the cloth over his tail. Pain vibrated over the appendage as he started to lean more on Shiro. The older didn't protest as most of his weight landed on him. Hurt laced itself through his body, making him feel sick as they stumbled back to Shiro's place. Keith focused on his breathing, smelling the scent of Shiro, of night air and lighting. It soothed him and replaced the pain a bit, almost like a natural drug.

Maybe Keith was just in too much pain to actually understand what was going on. As it was, time skipped again because the next time he was aware enough, he was resting on his side with a small pillow between his legs. It felt a bit better, and he could hear Shiro searching through the little freezer in the kitchen just yards away. Keith pushed himself up slowly before resting his head on the armrest and staring at the man who had his back turned.

"Come on…" Shiro muttered something under his breath before digging through the fridge more, "I know I have an ice pack in here somewhere...come on. Adam...where did you put it...ah ha! Here it is."

Keith watched as the other shut the door, turning to grab a towel to wrap the grey ice pack. The younger stared for a moment before accidentally shifting, setting off his tail with a low hiss. Ow…

"Hey, buddy," Shiro smiled at him from nearby, "I got an ice pack to put on your wound. It's going to swell and this will help. Can I put it on?"

Keith blinked at the other. Even now, Shiro was giving him the choice. If he said no, the older would leave it alone. But...he was tired of hiding it. He wanted to tell someone. He wanted to trust someone with this.

"Okay," Keith nodded before carefully grabbing his larger hand, "But I have to tell you something first."

"Anything," Shiro smiled at him before clenching his hands in his, "What's up?"

"I'm...not normal," Keith spoke softly before he sighed, stopping Shiro from saying anything, "I never told you because...I'm scared. And I never let anyone else know either because I know what will happen. I'm going to get stuck in some lab because I'm fucked up-"

"Woah, woah," Shiro frowned before rubbing at his shoulder, "You're not fucked up. I don't know who told you that, but they're wrong. Keith, there's nothing wrong with you."

"There's plenty wrong with me," Keith stared at the other before sighing, "I don't get people, I have weird habits, no one likes me, and…"

"And?"

"And I-" Keith froze for a moment before sighing, tears coming to his eyes as he curled up, back flaring up, "I have a tail…"

Shiro stayed silent for awhile. Keith refused to look at him, waiting for him to turn around and leave. He waited for the other to call in the authorities to hand him over to the people who would try to figure out why he had a tail. He waited for Shiro to give up on him, even though he promised not to.

"Keith," Shiro's fingers brushed against his cheek, wiping away his tears, "There's nothing wrong with that. It's a natural part of you."

"But it's a tail," Keith hissed softly before curling up more, but yelping as pain raced through it, "A-and that's not normal…"

"Hey, it's okay," Shiro reassured him before frowning, "Can I see it? I still want to put this on it. Your tail must be in pain."

Keith didn't detect any sarcasm or anything to indicate Shiro was being anything other than genuine. He didn't sound condescending like some did. He was waiting warmly for his yes or no.

"Okay," Keith huffed before moving slightly. Agony swept through his body as he brought his tail upward, out of his pants. As soon as the tip got free, the whole thing dropped like it was exhausted, falling onto his leg limply. Keith himself felt nauseated at the action, stomach waging war on him. It took him a long time to focus back on the other.

"Hah," Shiro stared in...awe at his tail, "That was not what I expected. But this isn't bad. Can I put the ice pack on?"

"Yeah," Keith breathed out softly before pulling his shirt up an inch. Bracing himself for the chill, he wasn't ready for the light brush against his tailbone and further down.

…..

Shiro stared at his friend's back. Right where his tail began was red with dark purple bruises appearing from side to side. It looked very painfully swollen. Shiro winced because it looked like it could be broken. He didn't know how to tell if Keith's tail - oh my god, his best friend somehow had a tail - was broken. He didn't know how to tell if a dog or cat had a damaged tail much less a person.

Right where the wound was, the tail began. It was fairly thin as if his vertebrae just continued. For a moment, Shiro thought that his tail was bruised all the way down but soon enough, he realized the tail was naturally purple. Before he could think, his hand reached out, gently rubbing at the base before sliding down some. It was...fuzzy...like short cat fur. Or like super thick peach fuzz.

Shiro yanked his hand back when the younger made a small noise.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."

"Didn't h-h-hurt," the younger huffed before his tail flicked slightly. Shiro could see the deep flinch the other showed at the action, "Felt g-good."

Shiro's brow arched before he carefully pressed on the tail again. Some type of happy sound left the other who stared up at him with shining eyes.

"Rest h-hurts," he confessed after a moment, face going sad into a small pout, "Can't move tail much."

"Well, let me put the ice on it," Shiro frowned before gently placing the package on the growing bruises. He barely placed it on when the younger cried out in pain, thrashing a bit. His tail slapped weakly at his hands as Keith went a few shades lighter. A moment past before the other settled down, tail going limp again as Keith also went slack, "Oh shit...Keith? Keith! Wake up!"

The younger didn't make a sound, only laid there on his belly, face pressed into the sofa. He clearly passed out from the pain. That was not a good sign...Keith had a high pain tolerance so...this was not good. For all Shiro knew, his hip could very well be broken and the adrenaline just made it impossible to detect. Even now, the injured area looked worse than before. The bruises looked so purple that they could have been black, all red having faded from sight. The bruise was actually spreading a little over the younger’s tail, making the purple a tiny bit darker somehow.

“Oh no,” Shiro sighed deeply before grabbing the light blanket on the couch and covering the other with it, making sure he’d be warm enough. He brushed Keith’s bangs back, watching as the smaller didn’t even respond. He couldn’t take him to a doctor...He now understood why Keith freaked out so much. If Shiro had a tail he’d also not want anyone seeing it. But…

But he had to call in someone.

He didn’t know anything medical except what was taught in first aid and what his own disease entitled…

Speaking of his disease...Shiro had yet to tell Keith. His friend had trusted him with details of his tail when he was clearly frightened out of his mind about telling him. The least Shiro could do...was get his disease out there to the younger. He made up his mind at that minute, knowing he was going to tell Keith as soon as he could. The younger would likely have some time for a chat after this anyway.

Pulling out his phone, he dialed the first person who came to mind.

Sam.

The man was a part-time doctor within the Garrison when he wasn’t off being a scientist, so he’d know more than Shiro. And Shiro trusted the older with his life. He did, after all, know about his disease and had always defended him when others doubted him. He was like the dad he never had, and Shiro wasn’t afraid to ask him for help.

“Hello, Shiro,” the man picked up with warm grin on his face, “What can I help you with?”

“I need your help with something medical,” Shiro interrupted him before he could speak, “And it’s not for me.”

“I’ll be right over,” the older raised a brow before nodding for a moment, “I’m nearby anyway. Be there in ten.”

“Thanks,” Shiro sent the other a smile before dropping the call. Frowning in concern, he felt Keith’s forehead. The other wasn’t clammy or cold but...he showed no signs of waking. The pain must have been really bad. Shiro sat there for those ten minutes, worrying all the while like he usually did. And of course, when the bell rang, he jumped in surprise and almost toppled over his own feet.

Rushing to the door, he peeked at the scanner to the side that also functioned as a camera. There standing in the door was Sam and...Matt...Shiro blinked before shaking his head. He’d take both if just for the fact that Keith would get some medical help. And despite Matt’s playful exterior, he was good at keeping secrets. Shiro opened the door.

“Hey, Shi-” The older greeted before Shiro yanked both of them into his apartment, closing the door quickly and locking it. Hating to do this, he even temporarily locked Adam out of the scanner, not wanting to even risk his boyfriend walking in on them. He was still teaching class for the next few hours but better safe than not. As much as he loved him...he didn’t want to let the other know...Keith was going to have a panic attack as it was once he realized that two people he didn’t know much knew about him now.

“Whoa,” Matt raised a brow before blinking, “Uhhh...you okay? You kinda swept us in here really quickly? Oh...whatcha up to?”

“Nothing,” Shiro protested before frowning, “Look...I need your help because Keith’s hurt. He got bullied today-”

“Oh that!” Matt snickered before quieting, “I heard about it...Wait...Keith was the one who got bullied?”

“Yes,” Shiro nodded before leading them to the couch, “And he’s in a lot of pain. I need you to look at the injury...there’s no blood, but it’s really bruised.”

“And you didn’t bring him to an actual nurse because…” Sam stared at him for a moment before he sighed softly, “If he’s anything like you, he didn’t want to see one. What seems to be the problem.”

“Well,” Shiro moved in front of the other who seemed to be waking a tiny bit, eyelid twitching slightly, “His tailbone’s heavily bruised but...I don’t know if it’s broken or fractured and just bruised. He hit the locker pretty hard at least once. And...you have to promise what you see, you won’t tell anyone here. Only we can know about it...”

“Oh my god…” Matt leaned closer to him, “Is Keith secretly an alien from some far away galaxy...because if he is...there’s no point for us to go to Kerberos…”

“Promise me…” Shiro cut through his talk with a completely serious face, “Keith was going to go back to his room and sleep it off, as if he’s not in a ton of pain. He doesn’t know you’re even here because I told him if it was bad enough, I had to call someone in. He...Keith passed out when I put the ice pack on.”

“And how long ago was that?” Sam wondered at he gazed down at Keith with kind eyes, looking him over for any details that could help, “He seems to be waking.”

“Fifteen or so minutes,” Shiro frowned softly before holding onto the older’s shoulder, “But there’s something you need to know before you look at the wound. Keith…”

“Sh-Sh’ro?” Keith’s quiet voice drifted over them, making Shiro fall silent. A moment passed before the younger went completely still.

"Keith has a tail," Shiro spoke after a long moment.

"Oh," Matt blinked before tilting his head, "As in a tail that just never reabsorbed back into his body when he was an embryo? Or..."

"A tail," Shiro stated flatly before rubbing his face, "As in a fully functional tail that's longer than his legs."

"Oh," Matt chuckled nervously before staring at Keith, "Wait what?"

"You know us, Shiro," Sam stated softly before coming closer to the youngest in the room, "We won't tell anyone."

"Duh," Matt rolled his eyes before nodding along, expression serious, "You're our friend and crewmate. Besides, I'm a scientist who's open to new things. My best friend's best friend having a tail is on the list."

Shiro sent them back a smile, glad he knew them. Before he could say anything, Keith let out a tiny whimper, shifting in his sleep. A second passed before he made a louder sound. It took Shiro a long minute to recognize that the younger was having some type of nightmare. Before he could wake the other up, Keith kicked out his leg.

"Stop…" He gasped laboriously under his breath, eyes skittering under his lids as his hand grabbed at his chest, "Hurts...experiment...not human...stop...stop...Sh'ro. Help! SH'RO!"

And then he bolted upright, springing up and awake. Shiro didn't have time to think as the other tackled him to the ground. All he could see were blazing golden eyes and narrowed slits for irises. Sharp twin fangs dove for his throat, about ready to rip his neck apart as they both tumbled to the floor. Shiro waited for pain that never came. Before the younger bit him, he paused, sniffing at Shiro's neck before collapsing onto the other's front, a pained whine leaving him.

"Sh'ro," Keith sobbed out before clenching onto the older's jacket, pressing to him in a bundle of heat, "S'rry...hurts...sc'red...don't leave...sorry...Sh'ro."

"Hey," Shiro frowned before wrapping his arms around the other, "It's okay. You're okay. You're safe. No one is going to hurt you. No one is going to experiment on you, okay? I'm here. I'm here."

It took a good few minutes to calm him down. In that time, he noticed that the blanket had stayed with them, wrapped around Keith's back. The younger was beginning to shiver, cold sweat breaking out on his brow.

"That's it, buddy," Shiro grinned softly as rubbing his back, "You're okay. I got someone here to help with the pai-"

Oh shit...he clearly didn't think this one through as Keith started to fight him. The younger huffed unevenly, fingers clawing at Shiro blindly. Even though moving obviously caused Keith more pain, he kept going. Shiro was honestly taken aback by the other's strength.

"Not going back," Keith hissed angrily before crying out as his hips moved, "Don't hurt me...hurts…no doctors...Sh'ro! Sh'ro!"

"Crap," Shiro held the younger closer, pressing his face to his neck, "Keith, they won't hurt you. I trust them. They're good people and they just want to lessen the pain. I'm still not giving up on you. I'm not leaving. You're gonna be okay. No one's taking you away."

Keith slowly calmed down, eyeing the two warily with a sharp gaze. A moment passed before the younger closed his eyes, relaxing against Shiro before pressing his nose to the older's throat, nuzzling against him. The action was so heartbreakingly Keith in all of the motions.

"'Kay," Keith sighed softly against his skin, "H'rts a lot."

"Sam's going to look at it," Shiro nodded at the oldest watching them, "He's going to need to see it and touch the spot. That okay?"

Keith sniffled, tears leaking out and onto Shiro's neck. He could feel Keith nodding against his collarbone.

"I'll be right here the whole time," Shiro spoke up as he weaved his fingers through Keith's hair, calming him more, "Nothing's going to happen to you."

Shiro continued muttering nothings to Keith as he watched the other two. Matt carefully lifted the sheet as both their eyes widened in shock. From this angle, Shiro could see that Keith's injury was even more bruised and battered. His tail was quivering softly in its spot, likely of its own doing since Keith didn't seem to be controlling it right now. Sam hummed something for a moment before carefully pressing on Keith's lower spine.

"Keith, I need to know if this hurts," the older pressed down on another spot, Keith jolting in Shiro's hold and crying out again, shaking some before burying his face back into Shiro's neck, "Hmmm...I'm guessing he's got a bruised tailbone...the tail seems to be moving fine and Keith only cried out when I pressed right there over the bruise. I'm no official but he needs to rest it. Usually they heal on their own, as you know."

"Maybe he can heal faster," Matt spoke up, staring at the purple tail with critical eyes, "Might not take four weeks to heal? Ice pack looks really good right now though."

"You'll need to alternate between hot and cold patches," Sam frowned in thought, "Make sure he keeps his tail loose so it can breathe and heal. Sitting is a bad idea and more walking can help along with painkillers. Higher doses may work for him."

"Thanks," Shiro smiled at them, "I think I'll keep him here for that amount of time. He should be able to roam around with his tail out instead of hiding it, and the only place he can is here."

"What about Adam?"

"What about him?"

"He's going to wonder why Keith's staying over for so long when he could stay in his room," Matt stared at the door for a few seconds, "And what if he sees Keith's tail when he's here?"

"We'll hide it under the blanket," Shiro sighed softly before grabbing Keith up in his arms carefully. The younger only made a strange noise before brushing against his neck again, "Besides, with all the pain, I doubt Keith's going to be stretching his tail out for awhile. I'll be sticking around anyway since I'm pretty free right now. We don't start our heavy training until a month, and whatever I need to do can be done here from my tablet."

"Alright," Sam nodded before stepping back, "We'll support whatever decision you two make. If his tail gets worse, let us know."

"Man," Matt sighed morosely before perking up, "I still say he's an alien. That would be so cool. Somehow an alien got got to Earth and had a kid...wait...oh my god! Are they among us already? Are the alien theories right? What if-"

"Matthew," Sam gave him a flat look before shaking his head, "This is a human we're talking about."

"Oh, yeah," the blond smiled sheepishly, "My scientist mind just gets thinking. Keith's secret is safe with us, honestly."

"Thanks," Shiro grinned at them both. At the same time, Keith wiggled a bit against him, tail flexing just enough to tap Sam's shoulder before falling limp.

"Th'nks," the younger panted quietly, dark eyes watching the other two with a tired glaze.

"Anytime," Sam smiled back, "You just get some sleep, Keith. Shiro will be here when you wake."

"'Kay," Keith nodded silently, "T'red."

And then he fell asleep. Shiro only sighed softly before smiling fondly at the other.

"We'll see ourselves out," Sam stated quietly as he started for the door. Matt followed before peering at the scanner and messing with it.

"Unlocked the door," Matt tapped some more, "Annnddd nowwww...Adam can come in."

And then both left. Shiro only snickered before taking Keith to the guest room. They never used the room except when the younger came over. Placing the younger into the bed, he set him up in a comfortable position before pushing the covers over him. Sitting there for a second, he brushed his hand through the other's hair. The younger shifted in his sleep, leaning into the touch with a content sigh. Staying for a couple more minutes, he soon got up to grab some aspirin and water. He also grabbed his tablet, sending Iverson a message that Keith had a bruised tailbone and needed some time off. He barely sent it when the older man sent him a message back, telling him that Keith could have some time to recuperate and that he was sorry for the actions that happened. Shiro sighed softly before sitting down in the chair beside Keith, just in case he had more nightmares.

Everything was fine for the next week. Keith was in quite a bit of pain, but he was coping with it well. They both took time to talk and Shiro told Keith about his disease. The younger had been quiet for a bit after but he soon came around, acting just like before. Adam had wondered at first why Keith was staying with them, but after seeing him, he let it go. Shiro was grateful for that…

And then the next week, Shiro checked up on Keith who...was burning up. That didn’t make any sense because it couldn’t have been from the tail injury. That was already healing, bruises now fading into a hue of rainbow colors. Keith could move his tail much better than before and he didn’t have as much pain.

But here Keith was, hot as a heater and sweating away. His cheeks were slightly flushed as he shivered softly from under the blankets. Every now and then, he shifted in his sleep, huffing in pain. Shiro frowned before grabbing a cold cloth and sitting by Keith, pressing it to his forehead.

“You okay, buddy?”

“Don’t f-feel g-good,” Keith panted softly before groaning a bit, pressing his face into the pillow more, “H’urts.”

“What hurts?”

“Ever’thing,” Keith stated before shuffling closer to him, grabbing his wrist and pressing his nose there, “Achy.”

“You’re probably coming down with some type of flu…” Shiro frowned softly before brushing his fingers through the other’s hair, which helped him relax some, “Just...some weird timing...it’s not even flu season…”

“S’rry,” Keith panted before clinging to him more, resting along his side, “S’rry.”

“No, it’s not your fault,” Shiro shook his head before shrugging, “We just have to get you back to health. Nothing wrong with that, okay?”

“Hmmm…” Keith blinked up at him for a moment before curling closer, one leg practically trapping his own, “St’y?”

“Of course,” Shiro chuckled softly before feeling Keith’s tail wrapping around his wrist. Gently, he moved the appendage down so it closed in on his ankle instead, “Don’t want you pulling anything out when you’re just starting to heal. Your tailbone is still sore.”

“‘Kay,” Keith mumbled tiredly before falling back asleep. Shiro grabbed his tablet before scrolling through some stuff. He was maybe half an hour into his second report when something slightly wet rolled over his wrist. Shiro almost yelped in surprise before gazing at Keith...who was licking his wrist in his sleep. Blinking, he watched as the younger slept on. For a long few minutes, he didn’t do anything. Shiro was about ready to go back to his work and say that he had been dreaming when Keith’s tongue darted out again, licking at his wrist before making a strange sound in his throat…

Shiro froze, listening as the noise continued in a broken, choppy cycle...the closest thing he could put it down to was…

Purring…

Oh shit…

Keith could purr...and he had a purple fuzzy tail…

Maybe Matt wasn’t that far off the bat by saying Keith was an alien. Or...Shiro could be looking too far into this and Keith was just a normal human who somehow had a tail and could purr and had some type of weird sickness. He was like a cat, all prickly and hiss until you got to know him well enough.

And then he licked Shiro again, tongue more sandpapery than before. Shiro blinked as the younger nuzzled into the spot.

“Keith?” Shiro tilted his head.

Keith didn’t reply, only made more of the strange noise. Shiro figured that the younger was in a deep sleep, probably didn’t know that he was doing this. It was probably some deeper instinct that the other had. Something that was just a normal part of him. But why he was licking his wrist, he’d never know.

It seemed to comfort the younger though. Keith had stopped squirming around in pain and was instead still in his sleep, peaceful expression on his no-longer flushed cheeks. His tail would twist just the slightest every now and then against his ankle, and Shiro...Shiro had to say it was kind of cute. He doubted that Keith would remember much of this after this but he just shrugged before going back to his report. Keith seemed to be fine like this, and Shiro had no doubt he’d feel better completely in a few days.