Chapter 1: Prologue
The message was honestly concerning.
Commander Sablan stood next to Commander Iverson when the message came through their systems, his first thought equating said message as some kind of prank by one of the garrison cadets. After all, the teens were selected for the garrison program for a reason, yet who else would send a message warning about alien invasion when aliens, in fact, did not exist.
"The message..." One of the communications officers removed their headphones, turning their heads so they might look at the two commanders in the eye. "It originates in deep space."
"We've made preparations for space travel, so why is this surprising?"
"It's coming from a place in deep space that is outside our current technological capabilities."
Sablan's mouth opened slightly, before clamping his mouth shut in irritation. "Couldn't a student fake the signal?"
He watched the two communications officers look at each other as Iverson cleared his throat. "I think you're overestimating their capabilities."
"Don't tell me you honestly believe something such as aliens exist?" Sablan expected some kind of answer form Iverson, yet the man remained silent. The older commander narrowed his eyes, his mind wondering what Iverson was hiding.
The message soon became brushed aside for other matters related to the garrison system and preparing for space travel and colonization of the moon and Mars. Even the news of a ship crashing in the desert didn't phase him, yet he insisted on investigating the crash himself; Iverson was nowhere in sight when the message came in.
His team approached the crash site, his mouth twisting slightly at the sight of a spaceship definitely beyond the garrison system's current capabilities, making him wonder which country broke from the UN treaty regarding space travel. He stepped forward, weapon in hand prepared to confront the foreign invader. The door of the ship opened, revealing the foreigner.
The foreigner was purple.
Chapter 2: Towards the Future
The sun rose in a burst of colors over the desert landscape. None of those gathered outside of the entrance of the Castle of Lions knew how much their lives would change after the events of last night. Knowing life wouldn't be the same didn't mean reality had yet set in for any of those involved. In some ways, it felt like a dream. Keith turned his head so he didn't look at the others gathered around waiting for instructions regarding who would ride in each vehicle.
"Hey! How come Keith gets to ride shotgun with Shiro!"
Keith found himself pulled out of his stupor, his dark eyes looking at Shiro while his ears recognized who the voice belonged to. His eyes opened and closed, not realizing Lance alluded to the favoritism Keith normally found appalling. He spoke softly, without thinking. "I don't mind."
"Well, I do." Shiro folded his arms across his chest, giving his younger brother the look, which indicated he didn't care, yet this particular time Keith wasn't giving Shiro any flack. At least, he didn't think he was; he'd try and ask Shiro later.
"He's always your..." Something cut Lance off, making Keith look over at the scrawny Cuban who liked making his life miserable. Hunk stood beside Lance, but the chunky teen's eyes drew Lance's attention towards something which resulted in a rather horrified look. Keith turned his head, seeing Lance's very Cuban, and very not-annoying Aunt, yet couldn't place why the sight of Penelope made Lance act so.
"Perhaps it has to do with our very not-Cuban landlord who is very annoying yet not in a superbly obnoxious way? After all, that weirdo is standing next to Tia Penelope."
"Never mind." Lance's voice drew Keith back towards the youth who liked making his life miserable. Keith's eyes opened and closed, taking in the smile which spread across Lance's face along with the way Lance tucked his hands behind his back. Something felt off about the smile. "I'm totally fine about that."
"You're so being fake."
Keith's eyes blinked, turning his head so he might look at Lance's very Cuban, very not-annoying cousin – though Keith suspected Lance was the only very Cuban, very annoying member of that family. He mentally pondered why Alex said Lance was being fake, yet the concept of being fake wasn't something Keith honestly understood. Letting out a sigh, he turned his head away hoping he might avoid eye contact with everyone.
"How come I can't go?"
The sound of Allura's voice made Keith draw in his breath. His eyes opened and closed once, his head pulling back at the sound of the voice which he heard in his dreams the last few nights. His eyes opened and closed again, his head turning so he might look at the alien princess.
While Allura and her mentor were definitely humanoid, they didn't look like anyone on Earth. The way the dressed didn't look like anything Keith ever saw someone on Earth wear unless one was talking about a character from some fictional movie. Coran looked the most human, with pale skin, [blank] eyes and red hair normally associated with someone from Europe, particularly Ireland, yet his pointed ears still stood out.
Allura, on the other hand, would stand out even if she didn't have the pointed ears. She twisted a long lock of white hair around a finger, her dark lips forming a pout as Coran insisted, she wouldn't be allowed to go before turning her head so she could look Keith in the eye with her crystal blue eyes. He looked away, swallowing and feeling rather uncomfortable.
"Keith, we need to get going."
Keith's head darted up, his eyes focused now on his older brother, at least until Lance spoke. "Hey princess."
The young cadet stopped in his tracks, glancing over at Lance. His fellow cadet waved at Allura, making a rather strange face as he did so while Hunk – the other young cadet from Keith's year – looked at his best friend as if he'd grown a second head. Keith followed Lance's gaze and saw Allura reacting to Lance; she appeared quite annoyed at what Lance was doing, yet Keith didn't understand why beyond the fact the look on Lance's face was honestly weird.
After all, he couldn't figure out why Lance was raising an eyebrow in an attempt to suggest something – said something going right over Keith's head.
Keith heard Lance's older sister – Veronica – speak, but he winced upon looking back. The sudden yelp from Lance exemplified the sight of Veronica tugging on Lance's ear, indicating her younger brother should enter into the designated vehicle so they might head back to the garrison.
The thought of going back there of all places was far from pleasing, resulting in a sigh from Keith. He still remembered the interrogation from Sablan regarding the dreams which led to the finding of the Castle of Lions. In fact, interacting with almost everyone at the garrison wasn't something Keith found comfortable, yet Adam was no longer there. His eyes closed, only snapping open when Shiro called out to him.
Soon, the military vehicles kicked up dirt from the desert, the engines rumbling as the group returned to the garrison without Allura and Coran. For some strange reason, Keith felt – he couldn't describe how he felt, given the fact he really didn't understand why he found himself drawn to her and the Castle of Lions. He also grew more anxious they closer he got to the garrison, yet he associated this with the unpleasantness he already felt at the place.
"Not that it matters. Shiro's doing his best to raise me and Ryo now that dad's gone, but there's no other place to go." Except, there was the Castle of Lions, a place to go.
Keith repositioned himself in the front seat so he might watch their vehicle enter into the garrison garage. Reluctantly, he disembarked the vehicle.
"It's good to see you're back here."
Keith's entire body tensed up upon hearing the voice of Sablan.
Chapter 3: Conscripted
The smell of cheap coffee drifted up from the cup Shiro clutched in his calloused hands. He'd always hated the political game the higher ups at the garrison ended up playing, yet now he – one of his younger brothers – and three other teens, found themselves in the middle of such a mess. The caffeinated drink did nothing to calm his nerves, yet in the back of his mind, he wondered if his sleep would be plagued with more nightmares.
Letting out a sigh, Shiro glanced up from his cup at the small group gathered in the conference room, unsure of what he should say to lighten the mood despite the fact he was the leaders of the paladins – the five pilots the robotic lions selected for the task of forming Voltron and defending the universe. The thought of children fighting in a war sickened him, yet he was also responsible.
"I'll ask Mama to fix a nice, hot pot of cafecito when we get back to the apartment if of course, we have power. She might find a way to still make it though."
"Cafe..." Shiro found himself distracted by the tug of his sleeve as his sixteen-year-old brother tugged his sleeve. "Keith?"
"He's with my mother, but quite fine, given the circumstances." Penelope let out a deep breath as if making small talk helped her relax. Shiro wished he could relax as she did, given the situation. "As for cafecito, consider it a much better pick me up than the instant coffee they make here at the garrison, not to mention it's also a tradition."
"You know that..." Shiro took a deep breath, his eyes taking in each of the other four Paladins.
Matt was the oldest, set to graduate soon, yet there was still a bit of worry given the fact the oldest of the two Hold siblings leaned towards intellectual interests instead of any form of athleticism. Hunk, on the other hand, was known for his strength and size; he was also known for being a big-hearted teddy bear. Then there was his younger brother – Keith, whose social interactions with others left a lot to be desired.
Of course, the one he worried about the most once he put aside his brotherly instinct for Keith, was, in fact, Penelope's eldest, Elena. Unlike the cadets who were selected, she had no experience regarding the military from what he could tell, yet she honestly struggled with the idea of dying, let alone her significant other – Syd, dying. Turning his head, meaning to apologize to Penelope for dragging her daughter into the matter.
Only, he stopped upon seeing Syd and Elena's hands on the table, his mouth opening slightly as he tried putting his feelings together. A hand clapped down onto his shoulder, making Shiro turn and look Penelope in the eye.
"Don't apologize for dragging Elena into this. Instead, be there for her when she needs it."
He turned, catching the look in Penelope's eyes. The woman smiled despite the fact she knew – like him, that the lives of these four teens were now turned upside down, given the fact they were the only ones able to pilot the lions. She knew they were stuck in these roles fate forced upon them.
Thankfully, they didn't have to wait much longer, although Shiro would rather Sablan wasn't in the room with Iverson. The memory of the man interrogating Keith without his legal guardian's permission didn't sit well, yet something told him Sablan still wanted to interrogate Keith as if he were the enemy; in fact, something told him Sablan wanted to sink his teeth in all of them regarding the matters.
"So, we have an issue." Iverson stepped to the front of the conference room.
"Yeah. The Galra attacked us! That is a major problem!" Matt's younger sister Katie stood up, lifting her hand into the air. "What kind of defenses are they planning?"
Iverson cleared his throat, glaring at the girl standing there, her ginger colored hair pulled into a ponytail, reminding everyone she was just as much of a geek as her older brother. "You, young lady, do not have the proper security clearance to know that."
Iverson cleared his throat. "Anyways, let me get to the point since we do have civilians involved. Unfortunately for us, you five are the ones selected by those lions to be their pilots and as such are our only defense against the Galra."
"And?" Lance leaned back in his chair, thankfully not putting his feet onto the table. "Isn't there a way for – you know – someone else to pilot one of the lions." He turned his head to glare at Keith who suddenly glared back, coming out of whatever fog he was once in. "I mean, I'm sure there are those of us who would make a better candidate."
Shiro flinched, seeing the look of self-doubt on Elena's face. He let out a deep sigh. "Geese."
"Yeah. I think he's..." Elena, of course, responded, obviously thinking any of the cadets at the Garrison were better candidates, including her cousin Lance."
"No. We don't know of any method of changing who pilots the lions, so I must, unfortunately, say that all of you are officially conscripted to active duty."
He gave Iverson a look which he hoped would tell the commander he'd stuck his foot into his mouth majorly just as Keith started sliding down in the chair he sat in while Elena stood up, leaving the room, Syd following after her. "No! That... you can't do that!"
Shiro glanced over at Penelope, wondering how she would handle the situation, yet the look in her eyes said everything. "I'll handle this."
He stood up, glancing over at his younger brother and catching sight of the look of confusion on Keith's face. Letting out a sigh, he headed out of the room, focused on his military duty instead of his familial. Elena stood outside of the room, one finger pushing up her eyeglasses in frustration; she was obviously lost regarding where she should take off towards. Syd turned towards Shiro. "She's right."
"Sort of. We're at war, so one can be drafted up, although I will admit it's not really your typical – um, draft circumstances. I mean, you're not yet eighteen, but aren't male either."
"Okay. I admit that the draft stuff is sexist in that it doesn't include women, yet I'm also right now glad that it doesn't simply because I don't like being drafted against my will."
"I know. Do you think that I want Keith getting pulled into this either?"
"Shiro." Syd piped up, their mouth twisting into a frown while their arms crossed their chest. "Will make sure Elena is okay?"
"Yeah. I promise to do my best. That said, I'm just as uncertain as you two are."
Chapter 4: Reality
Not having a way to fight back honestly didn't sit well; Elena was used to being able to fight various injustices via protest, nor did she hesitate in standing up for herself. Driving back into the city revealed just how lucky she was – they were. Damage was everywhere, yet the route home wasn't direct due to certain routes being out due to collapsed buildings and downed powerlines.
Her abuela and the rest of their apartment building they lived in could have ended up a casualty of the Galra attack, yet she was one of the few people standing in the way of more damage occurring, at least until the Garrison was able to come up with a counter measure with their own technology. Seeing the level of destruction in the city made her even more unsure of things.
The garrison provided transportation back for everyone going back to the apartment. Her cousin Lance fused about how Keith was getting to go off base and he wasn't – in the back of her mind it honestly bothered her seeing this other side of him, yet she didn't understand where the animosity stemmed from, given the fact Keith – from what she could tell, was a pretty great guy.
Worse, his words from earlier still stung. "I mean, I'm sure there are those of us who would make a better candidate."
Elena's fingers twisted between Syd's while she looked outside the window. In truth, the van was a bit overboard, given the fact there were only seven passengers and the driver, while there were eleven seats. This didn't mean the four seats at the back weren't crowded, as all four teenagers took to the back seat – Alex dragging Keith along with them. Shiro took the very front passenger seat, which seamed like a given since he was one of the Garrison's actual personal.
Schneider wanted to talk to Shiro – in some ways, Elena pitied Shiro for that, so he sat in the row just behind, while Penelope took the seat right in front of the teens – likely to encourage appropriate behavior, such as not making out. Not that Elena really wanted to make out in front of her brother, let alone others. Alex kept trying to engage Keith in conversation, yet he kept looking out the window.
"So," Syd piped up finally. "When did you decide to go by the name Keith?"
"I don't know. It's the name I always remember my dad using, though Shiro and Ryo remember a different name."
"Hey. What is that name?" Alex's interest was perked.
"Akira. Something to do with being bright and intelligent, or something like that – something I am definitely not."
The van pulled up in front of the apartment building and Elena took a deep breath, waiting for the other teens to get out. Their abuela was waiting for them, standing by the front doors with Ryo. Elena continued holding onto Syd's hand, the reality still struggling to set in. Her eyes opened and closed, missing Ryo's movement of stepping forward and quickly latching onto Keith, who shoved obvious discomfort at his twin brother's unexpected action.
Even Shiro seemed surprised.
"You idiot." Ryo held on tight, while Keith's arms remained outstretched, confused at the sudden affection.
"I was worried I'd lose the both of you."
From behind, Elena's abuela smiled, motioning for her hand for the others to move forward. Elena wondered if Ryo would have continued hugging Keith if he'd known of Lydia's plans. None of her grandchildren – Syd included – hesitated in turning Ryo's hug into a group hug so that Lydia might embrace all of her grandchildren who were there. Schneider – the landlord and another Lydia adopted into the family – quickly joined the hug, while Penelope and Shiro hug away as if deciding the crowd was a bit bunch.
To say Keith's surprise grew was likely an understatement, but eventually, they pulled away. Lydia reached up and pinched his cheek. "You had your brother and I worried precioso." She then turned her attention to the two who didn't join in the group hug. "Come here."
Lydia's positive energy was of course infectious. Some might wonder how she did it, yet Elena knew her grandmother's story regarding how she left Cuba and her old life behind. No matter how troubled she felt, Lydia made her – and everyone else for that matter – smile. Seeing Keith smile was actually nice, but a quick glance at Syd resulted in another hug from behind from Elena and her significant other. "You should smile more often."
"Yes." Syd piped up.
"Upstairs. Everyone. I'll prepare something to eat."
Everyone headed upstairs at different speeds. Keith, who normally – Elena would have thought – hung back, was pulled forward by his twin brother who, prior to the incident with the Galra was keeping himself distant from Keith. She could also tell they were twins. Alex and Schneider hurried after. Penelope walked up with Shiro, starting a conversation up about being a single parent and offering what advice she could, while Syd hung back until they realized what Elena wanted.
"Something bothering you Blanca?"
"I'm not sure of anything. I'd normally be protesting this – the fact I'm being transferred into the Garrison school. It's nice that they're giving Syd a pass to come and go as a consolation for forcing me..."
"Apparently there's this alien device that selected certain people to run. That's who we stopped the Galra."
"Well. Fate is fate."
"Do you still believe there is a god out there, what with all these aliens?
"Yes. And I believe in the pope."
Elena shook her head in amusement. While she honestly couldn't feel completely okay with the change overnight, there was something about her abuela's acceptance – after all, the woman, despite being Catholic accepted her coming out with the same ease, a stark contrast to her father's rejection.
Chapter 5: Inside
A crackling sound accompanied by a low whine interrupted the silence of the dark corridor. A pair of eyes glanced back and forth, making sure they weren't followed before clearing their throat. "Sendak?"
There came no answer, yet the person continued speaking over the communication device held in their hand, obviously not of Earthly design, the purple claws wrapping around the device while a pair of yellow eyes looked down.
"I'm reporting in regarding the information I've found out. Specifically, the humans have indeed found the Castle of Lions and Voltron, but they're having the Castle of Lions relocate to the human base of operations. As such, there will not be much, if any time for you to get to the Castle of Lions before that."
"Despite this, I do have personal knowledge that the newest paladins for Voltron are mostly children, a bunch of misfits via Earth standards. One of them isn't even a member of the base, but they're transferring in. As such, I do not believe we will have much trouble regarding the addition of Voltron if and when you decide to make your move, but I await further orders. Haxus out."
A purple finger pushed a button, turning the communication device off, before reaching for another button which put a hologram up, making him look Human rather than Galra. A sound made him look up before he headed towards the sound, one of his eyebrows shooting up. He turned the corner, catching sight of two cadets attempting to sneak off somewhere. He recognized one as the rather large paladin chosen by the yellow lion.
The other seemed insignificant.
He let his arms across his chest. "What are you two doing out of bed?"
"We didn't see anything!" Hunk blurted out.
"Excuse me?" Haxus wondered if they'd seen him turn off the hologram, let alone send the message.
"He means we're not the ones who messed with the lighting in the hall."
Haxus turned his head, looking at the hallway lights knowing full well he was the one who messed with the lights. "I see. That doesn't change the fact you are both out of bed at night."
"I told you we'd get in trouble Lance!"
"You're the one who said he was hungry!"
Haxus filed that bit of information away, fighting back the instinct to kill the enemy knowing full well his job was infiltration.
Chapter 6: A Beginning of Sorts
She found herself exchanging one uniform for another. A frown twisted across her face, her eyes taking in the bright orange uniform of the garrison cadet, her mind taking in the fact she was transferring schools so she might be available when the team was needed.
"You know, as much as I would have liked getting into that school, I've got to admit that uniform is butt ugly."
Elena turned, glaring at her younger brother. "It's not ugly! I mean, it's unisex."
Alex let out a sigh, before heading over to the breakfast table. "Only you would be pleased with something like that. I'm surprised they're not having you stay at the garrison."
"I would have put my foot down." Elena turned her head so she could look at her mother in her eye, smiling at how fierce her mother was. Their abuela bustled about the kitchen, placing food onto the table for her family.
"Yes, but would you put your foot down if that meant they couldn't call her, or the others up at a moment's notice simply because most of the team is away from that garrison thing."
Her heart sunk, knowing her grandmother was right. She stared into her food, frowning. Her mother's smile faltered. "Well, if we're on high alert, we're on high alert. There's nothing we can do about it."
Lydia walked over, patting her granddaughter's cheek. "Don't worry. Thinks will be alright, but you have people you know to look out for you at the garrison, so you should settle in fast."
"I hope so." After finishing her meal, she headed down the flight of stairs to the floor below, her hand knocking on the door, hoping her ride was ready to go already.
Shiro opened the door, toothbrush in his mouth. "Morning. Come on in. Keith's almost finished eating and just needs to brush his teeth, then we can go."
She watched Shiro turn his head so he might look at Keith, who was sitting across from his twin with a bowl of cereal in front of him, sitting, not taking a single bite. His twin seemed perturbed by the fact Keith was staring, not eating his food either. That person was Ryo, the one who bagged on the family night they'd invited the brothers to, yet there was no denying the fact the two were identical, their clothing and hairstyles setting them apart.
"Okay. You're really weirding me out right now."
"I'm weirding you out? I'm getting weirded out by the fact you're not getting mad at me or telling me how much of a nuisance I am."
Ryo pointed his spoon at Keith's cereal, letting out a sigh. "Your cereal's getting soggy, so you might want to just make some toast and not worry about brushing your teeth this morning. That way you won't be late for class."
Elena watched a grin break across Shiro's face. She pointed her thumb at Shiro. "This may just be me, but the one weirding me out is your older brother."
Keith and Ryo turned their heads to look at Shiro, taking in his grin. Ryo's eyebrow twitched, but he stood up, pointing a finger at Shiro, his tone of voice rising. "Don't you dare say we're acting cute and adorable Takashi! We're not little kids anymore."
"It's an older brother's prerogative to embarrass their younger siblings." Shiro continued smiling, speaking in a sing-song voice.
Ryo let out a deep breath, grabbing Keith's bowl of cereal and heading over towards the sink, while Keith's eyes widened. "Hey!"
"I'm going to make you some toast. Go brush your teeth already." Something about the way Ryo's face twisted made Elena think he wasn't used to acting this way.
"You know, you don't have to be civil just because a guest is here." Elena narrowed her eyes.
"Yeah. He has been acting weird ever since we got back yesterday. It's really weirding me out Ryo."
Shiro let out a deep breath, the smile faltering. "How about we not ruin the mood with the two of you having an argument, please? It's really nice, the fact you two are getting along. Keith, go brush your teeth, even though doing so before you eat is a bit backward."
By the time Keith got out of the bathroom, Ryo had the toast ready and handed the item to Keith. "I'm sorry I was such an asshole to you." Keith took the toast, his mind still taking in what Ryo said. "I'm going to hug you now, okay?"
"Keith, let him."
Elena watched Keith completely tense up while Ryo gently hugged him. She glanced over at Shiro, yet the look on her face – she didn't know if she should worry or not. Taking a deep breath, she headed downstairs while Keith stared at the toast, his own mind still trying to take in what was going on – even she could see that.
Finally, when they were in the car, Keith spoke up. "Shiro..."
"What's Ryo up to."
"What do you mean?"
"He's being nice. He's never nice to me."
"I think I need some time to think of an answer for you buddy. I mean, I know why he's doing it, and that he's not actually up to anything, but – yeah, I can't think of a way to convince you of that, so let me have some time to think."
Elena watched from the backseat, unsure what to think of the family dynamic which unfolded in front of her, but she found herself worried about her future as a paladin of Voltron, particularly when there was a better candidate – her cousin Lance, not to mention so many others at the garrison she'd not yet met.
Chapter 7: Not Understanding
The current state of the world honestly confused him more than the previous state of the world, particularly when Keith pondered Ryo's actions since they arrived home.
"Why do you have to be so annoying?"
The fact Ryo didn't say anything of the sort felt as strange as his twin brother not locking him out of their bedroom after he took a shower once the water was turned back on the day after the Galra attack. Instead, he felt a towel tossed at the top of his head. "If you don't dry off, you're going to become ill."
Keith didn't respond – he didn't know how he should respond to the changes, let alone the items in their room which fell off the wall while the building shook from the Galra attack. After a few minutes, he felt Ryo's hands touch the top of his head through the towel, ruffling his hair up. "Seriously..."
"I got it. I'm annoying."
Ryo continued for a few minutes before letting out a sigh. "I should never have said that."
"I think our mom's an alien from outer space, remember?"
His twin brother's hands stopped moving, not saying anything, then... "I remember. I also remember that was back when aliens were considered fictional."
"It's not as if you believe me."
"No. I can't say I do. I don't get why you'd think mom was an alien."
"I'm going to bed. I've got school in the morning." Keith flopped onto the bed, letting the towel hang over his head, blocking out all of the light and some of the sound.
"Wait? They're not giving you a break after all of that?"
"Why would you care? It's not as if you actually have to go to school."
"I still..." Ryo let out a sigh. Instead of climbing into his own bed, he lay down on Keith's bed so his back was against Keith's.
Keith's eyes widened, his cheeks flushing up slightly at the unexpected action. He sat up straight, before backing out of the bed, falling onto the ground, the towel still on his head. "What... what are you doing?"
"What am I doing?" Ryo let out a groan. Keith heard the bed shift while his twin sat up in the bed. "I don't want to be alone tonight. Okay?"
"You..." Keith pointed his finger at Ryo, his confusion growing.
"Are you really going to tell me you're okay with being alone tonight after what happened?"
Keith's eyes blinked. He pushed himself up from the floor, leaning against the wall while one hand gripped his other arm, his eyes avoiding making eye contact with his twin. In truth, he didn't want to be alone, not after learning the guardian angel in his sleep was in fact real. Mentally, he struggled with how he felt regarding her appearance, particularly when..."
"Something the matter?"
"It's not as if you would believe me."
"It's Keith!" Keith stood up, his hands clenched, his cheeks flushing. "This has nothing to do with Allura!"
Except, it had everything to do with Allura. Keith hurried up the ladder of the bunk bed, plopping down. A shiver ran down his spine. He heard Ryo stand up on the bottom bunk, gripping the edge of the top bunk, his voice speaking softly. "Wait? You mean the angel girl from the visions of yours?" Keith's entire body stiffened. "I know you didn't think I was paying attention, but..." Ryo paused. "We can talk about this later if you want. Are you sure..."
"Just leave me alone!" He heard a sigh, but the way Ryo acted in the morning...
A hand on his shoulder drew Keith out of his train of thought, his eyes focusing on Shiro's face, meaning he was now focused on what his older brother was saying rather than his confusion regarding his twin's actions. "I'll see you two later, okay?"
Shiro turned, walking away to whatever class he was teaching, or whatever task the garrison had him working on. Keith honestly never knew what Shiro did, having to instead focus on his classes – classes he found himself struggling with.
The sound of James Griffin's voice made Keith's head dart up, his throat swallowing back his frustration at having to run into that person that early in the school day. More importantly, he'd lost track of the number of fights he'd gotten into with the other cadet, egged on by his classmate saying just the right things to make him explode. "He's worse than Lance, but I met him before I met Shiro."
Keith swallowed, his entire body tensing while James tapped a folder against his shoulder, his lips pushing together while his eyes narrowed, looking right at Keith, or right through him. "You know this guy?"
Keith's eyes blinked, realizing James wasn't looking through him, but at Elena who stood next to him. His eyes blinked, drifting up towards the ceiling in an attempt to avoid making eye contact with James, wondering why the other teen was there, almost as if he were waiting for him. In fact, he'd been so focused on his actual thoughts he'd not seen James approach. "Um..."
Elena's tone of voice – Keith couldn't read what she was saying. "We live in the same apartment building."
"Same..." The tone of voice James used was different, making Keith look down at the boy, his mind not understanding why James' eyes now widened, his mouth hanging open slightly. "Wait. You aren't living with Shiro, are you?" Keith's eyes blinked, listening and hearing James suck in air into his lungs. "You are, aren't you?"
"What do you want?" Elena folded her arms across his chest.
"I'm supposed to be showing you, the new girl around the garrison, at least where the cadets are allowed to go."
"I think Keith can show me, thank you."
Keith felt Elena grab onto one of his arms, tugging him away. His eyes widened in surprise, unsure of the touch – he wasn't used to his fellow classmates touching him unless they were – well, in a fight. He wasn't expecting someone else to grab his other arm. He felt his breath pull in, a strange buzzing starting up in his ears, the realization James grabbed onto his arm sinking in.
"Let go." Keith's voice strained, panic starting to set in, not wanting to get into a fight.
"If you want your bodyguard to tag along, fine. I'm still in charge of giving you the tour." James let go of his arm, almost as if understanding holding on much longer wasn't a good idea.
Too many people were staring now, making him suck in a deep breath, his eyes closing. Elena simply said, "I'd rather Keith stay with me since I don't trust you."
"Fair enough." James didn't push the issue, but Keith found himself glad Elena didn't let go of the sleeve right away. Finally, something caught her attention which in turn made her step away she could examine it. James leaned over, whispering so only Keith could hear him. "Look. This conversation regarding you living with Shiro – it's not over, got it?"
Chapter 8: Why
Shiro felt a tad guilty for putting forth the question, given the fact he honestly loved his younger brother, yet Keith struggling with the change in Ryo's behavior towards him was just the beginning of the multitude of flabbergasting events prior to lunchtime. The fact he promised he'd figure out an answer which would satisfy Keith didn't help the musings going on in his head.
In fact, the fact James Griffin was present when he told Keith and Elena didn't register despite the fact, he clearly saw Keith's fellow cadet waiting there for some odd reason.
Instead, he headed out towards where the Castle of Lions was located, letting out a sigh, not looking forward to dealing with the princess and her advisor. Coran was – a bit odd, but more importantly, he didn't like the fact the lives of four teens were effectively in his hands. When he arrived, the princess looked around nervously, before settling her eyes on him specifically.
"Are you fairing well with the members of the Garrison, Princess Allura?"
Coran stood next to the princess, pulling on his orange mustache, twisting it while he eyed Shiro warily. The black paladin held up his hands defensively, letting Coran speak. "Yes, yes, they've treated us well." The man moved closer. "Where are the other paladins?"
"They're attending classes right now, or they will be." Shiro glanced away nervously, only for his nervousness to grow upon seeing Commander Sablan approaching. He held back letting out a groan, which proved quite painful. He turned his head, hoping he might see Iverson somewhere nearby or even Samuel Holt.
"I'm in charge of this, so deal with it."
Shiro's mouth twisted despite the fact he knew showing his discomfort around the man wouldn't win him any points. Mentally, he couldn't help the fact he struggled with trusting the man, given how Sablan pulled Keith into interrogation without Shiro's permission. Lingering in the back of his mind was the worry that this man would, in fact, do the same. He attempted smiling, yet said smile felt so fake.
"Oh my gosh! You're making that face again!"
"Shut up Adam," he remembered saying through gritted teeth more than once. Shiro let out a sigh, looking away, not wishing to think about the opportunity he'd missed. "I don't have time for grief. I've got to think about what is best for Keith."
"Number one says the other paladins aren't coming."
"I've already arranged for the four to be removed from class so that they can work on forming Voltron."
Shiro felt his mouth twitch slightly. "What, pray tell, may I ask, are you going to do about their education?"
"Defending Earth from the Galra takes precedence."
Coran nodded his head at Sablan's words; Shiro didn't like the fact the male Altean agreed. "We've already gone into you interfering with my legal rights as Keith's legal guardian."
The royal advisor nodded his head only a few times, looking at Shiro in shock, before turning to look Sablan in the eye, his jaw-dropping. Out of the corner of his eye, Shiro saw the four cadets approaching, the looks on their faces showing irritation on their part. "And this overrides this."
"Now see here..."
"I decide what the paladins will or won't do." Sablan narrowed his eyes at Coran, folding his arms across his chest.
Shiro muttered under his breath or at least attempted to do so. "I will be having a word with..."
"You can be insubordinate if you want, but I can see if someone else will take over as leader."
The threat – it stung despite the fact Shiro thought he remembered Allura saying something about the lions picking their paladins. His eyes focused in on Keith, swallowing, but he saw Keith's look of irritation soften, becoming one of confusion. Shiro swallowed, his mouth opening despite the fact he didn't know what he should say, let alone do.
"You've apparently forgotten that the lions choose their paladins." Allura narrowed her eyes at the man.
"We will see. I think there is a way we can change that, particularly since..." The man looked right at Keith. "I'm not thrilled with one of the members being a juvenile delinquent."
Shiro's hands clenched, yet he held back on socking the man in the jaw; he wondered if he only did this because he needed to set an example for Keith, rather than because he truly had control over his temper at that moment. He watched Keith look away, his eyes drifting towards the ground. In the back of his mind, he wanted to chew his commander out, telling the man to watch his tongue, but instead found himself freezing, holding his own, not wanting to make things worse for Keith.
"We will most definitely start attending classes regularly after we work on forming Voltron for a bit."
Shiro's jaw dropped, while Coran began to stammer. While he took pleasure in Sablan's reaction, he found himself still worried about the young cadets under his leadership. Elena didn't react, while Hunk and Matt's jaw dropped – at least until Matt gave a thumbs up, making Shiro let out a sigh, knowing full well Matt liked the idea of a girl as pretty as the princess attending class with him.
Keith – his body posture indicated a level of nervousness that worried Shiro – he would need to address this later on. Taking a deep breath, he wanted to say something, only for Coran to speak up. "You will not be attending classes anywhere but the Castle of Lions!"
"Why ever not?" Allura glared at Coran, folding her arms across her chest.
"Why not! Because as your legal guardian, it is my job to keep you safe?"
"Oh?" Shiro felt the corner of his mouth twitched up, realizing he had an ally in Coran when it came to Sablan overriding the rights of a legal guardian, at least for the moment. Letting out a sigh, he closed his eyes. "Okay. Let's get this done with. It shouldn't be that hard."
Except it was. There was no getting around the fact the bell for lunch rang long before they managed to form Voltron. Shiro felt tired but found himself thankful when Allura reluctantly agreed they could have a break – after Sablan yelled at her for using the Castle of Lions weapons in training. She was, despite the many years she lived as an Altean, in her teenage phase just like his four cadets.
For some reason, this put him at ease.
He placed a hand on Keith's shoulder. "So..."
"What. I'm sorry we weren't able to form Voltron. I don't know what I did wrong."
"I'm not good at this team thing, you know."
Shiro took a deep breath, patting Keith's shoulder lightly. "You seemed a bit bothered by Allura saying she wanted to attend classes with you. What..."
"I am absolutely not at all worried that the angel girl from my visions that I made the mistake of telling Ryo about turned out to be real, nor am I ever going to talk to him about that later. I'm also not talking to James about me living with you either!"
His hand unintentionally tightened around Keith's shoulder, protectively. "Wait..." His mind should have registered James was there earlier. "He knows you're living with me? How?"
"I don't know. I think it might have had something to do with Elena telling him we live in the same apartment, though I don't know how he concluded because of that."
"Keith, look at me..." Shiro watched his younger brother turn his head. The look on Keith's face told Shiro he was irritated rather than worried like Shiro wanted him to be. "Kiddo, you've got to tell James the truth."
"That we're siblings."
"You said I didn't have to tell someone unless I was ready to do so."
"I know." Shiro let out a sigh, wishing Keith would understand the kinds of misunderstandings which would crop up by not telling James they were siblings, yet he hated the fact James might end up taking advantage of that.
"I don't like him, so I'm not going to."
The corner of Shiro's mouth twitched – he definitely wished Adam was still around, given the fact he might know what to say. "Keith, you know I love you, right?"
"I know." Keith's mouth moved slightly, then he said. "I love you too Shiro. You worry too much, but if you don't mind, I'm heading to lunch."
"Okay. Okay." Shiro held up his hands in defeat, letting out a sigh. When Keith disappeared, he let out a sigh. "Why me?"
Chapter 9: La Buena Comida
One of the things Elena looked forward to was the lunches Lydia packed, yet she'd forgotten something important as she watched Keith and his twin brother interact.
"I packed lunches for Keith and Shiro as well."
She'd definitely forgotten about giving the lunches her abuela made to Keith and Shiro on the ride there, but Shiro left before she could hand his food over. The interaction with the kid calling himself James Griffin honestly drove giving Keith his lunch out of her mind, yet she definitely remembered when they were finally allowed a break from trying to form Voltron, yet Shiro pulled Keith away to talk to him.
As such, she headed for the cafeteria, remembering the location from the tour James' gave her, yet she found herself frustrated in how she wasn't allowed to attend classes on her first day – she didn't know how far behind she was regarding any of the curriculum, which was problematic given the fact the garrison program was definitely known for its advanced curriculum.
Hearing the voice of her cousin made Elena turn her head, her eyes noting how the other students looked at her because he spoke up. "Lance..."
"Wanna sit with Hunk and me today?"
"I'm kind of waiting for Keith."
"Because..." Elena took a deep breath, turning her head in the direction Keith should be heading from. She caught sight of her fellow cadet, his legs allowing him to move quickly towards the cafeteria. "Keith! Wait!"
She watched him freeze, then change direction, walking slower. His eyes were focused on Lance, yet he seemed far from pleased at seeing her cousin. She couldn't blame him, given the fact the two got into a fight the other day – that was how her family unit ended up meeting Keith and Shiro in the first place. He folded his arms across his chest. "Um, yes?"
"I'd forgotten to give you this, this morning. It's from my abuela." Elena pulled one of the extra lunches from her bag, shoving it towards Keith. As for the second, she wished Syd had decided to visit today during the lunch hour, being that she did have the freedom to do so, given the fact she was given a visitor's pass and was homeschooled.
"Um..." Keith's facial features softened, obviously surprised by the gesture, taking the boxed lunch.
"Wait!" Lance's voice strained. "How come Keith gets one of abuela's lunches?"
Elena turned her head towards her cousin. She heard Keith speak softly. "Look, if..."
"Nope. You're not giving the lunch abuela made for you to Lance." Elena reached out, grabbing onto Keith's wrist, purposefully tugging him into the cafeteria while Lance looked on wide eyes and Hunk's jaw dropped. She dragged him over to an empty table and sat down, yet she couldn't help but notice everyone looking. Keith seemed rather nervous with everyone watching. "Sit."
"You're my friend, right."
"Then as my only friend at the garrison you need to join me for lunch." Elena heard a sigh leave his lips, but watched him sit down, although he didn't open the lunch.
"Elena!" Of course, Lance followed. "How come I didn't get a lunch as well! Huh?"
"Because you didn't ride into school with me, did you?" She watched Lance's mouth snap shut. Her hand hovered over the third lunch, wondering what she should do with said lunch. She saw James Griffin enter with a few other cadets but watched Keith freeze, his entire body went rigid. His eyes drifted down towards the food in front of him, attempting to avoid eye contact. This didn't prevent James from making a beeline towards them.
"Why the hell is Keith into riding to school with you?"
She watched James purposefully step behind Keith, making it hard for him to ignore the other boy when he spoke up. "Honestly, I'd like to know that question?"
"Go away, Griffin."
"Yeah, no. I told you that you and I would be discussing the fact you're living with Shiro later on."
"Wait. What!" Lance looked as if he were going to blow a gasket. He pointed his finger at Keith. "That's a good question. Why are you living with Shiro!"
Keith's eyes narrowed. "None of your business."
"None of your business!" Lance jabbed his finger in the air. "This is yet another way you're always the favorite around here! You even get to live with Shiro!"
Elena couldn't help but notice how Keith crossed his arms, one of his eyes twitching, but also how everyone else was now staring. Surprisingly, James' mouth faltered. "Wait..."
"You're the one who brought it up, yet you're talking about waiting?"
"I don't think that is the thing we should be most concerned with."
One of Elena's eyebrows jolted up. "Wait. The reason he wants to talk with Keith about this – it wouldn't be because he thinks..."
The giggles from the other students didn't help the situation, yet it seemed quite obvious James hadn't planned on making Keith's living situation the latest garrison gossip, yet Lance remained oblivious like always. "Seriously! Why are you living with Shiro, Keith!"
"None of your business," Keith spoke with his teeth gritted, his anger becoming quite evident. Hulk – she thought his name was Hulk, yet something told her that might not be right, walked up with his tray of food just as a spoon full of mashed potatoes came hurtling through the air from who knew where hitting Lance in the face.
"You!" Lance's eyebrow twitched, his hands reaching for food off of his friend's trey while Hulk's mouth dropped open. Elena watched Lance's hand go back, obviously aiming at Keith, only for Keith to quickly duck, meaning the food hit James in the chest.
"The five of you! My office now!"
Elena let out a breath of deep air. "Thanks, Lance."
"I'm getting in trouble because I'm associated with you, that's what." Elena stood up, following the principle, stopping when she realized Keith was about to not take the box of food with him. She quickly grabbed it, shoving it into his hands, shaking her head. They headed to the office and found themselves sitting there when the fourth cadet showed up.
"Holt, what are you doing here."
"Um, I kind of started this."
"You?" The principle let out a sigh. "Join them."
Elena clenched her hands, her eyes drifting over towards Keith. He kept swallowing, almost as if...
He hated getting in trouble.
She really couldn't blame him.
That was when Sablan showed up. "I knew it. The four of you were trouble, but I can't believe the lions picked you." Keith's facial features changed, glaring at the man. Hulk slid down further, his mouth forming a pout. James glared at the man. "And you..." The next part surprised Elena a bit. "You're one of the ones I was going to replace them with if I could."
"We wouldn't even have this problem if Keith wasn't living with Shiro!"
"Wait. What's going on?" Shiro appeared, but Elena watched Keith's facial features twist into a look of horror.
"They got into a food fight."
"Um." Hulk raised his hand. "I'm not sure."
"I'll take it from here."
"Yeah. You might want to talk to Iverson about that." The man left, while Shiro stood there. "What am I going to do with you?"
Those were definitely words Keith didn't want to hear.
Chapter 10: Manipulations
Victory or death.
Everyone in the Galra empire lived by those words, which in turn made Haxus' current situation all the more irritating. Under normal circumstances, the Galra empire would take the planet by force, enslaving the people and making them mine the planet for resources the Galra empire could use in expanding their empire even further. Even as one who specialized in infiltration he didn't find himself often veering away from this path.
Earth ended up a strange exception where he, in fact, found himself alone, infiltrating the enemy ranks with the full intention of passing information onto his commanding officer even though he didn't know whether Sendak was still alive or not to receive the messages. The original plan simply wouldn't work anymore, given the fact the Galra warship which they were using for their plan now lay in the desert, vacant of anyone inside.
Since the garrison never discovered Sendak or any of the other Galra, he continued sending out messages every hour or so, not sleeping during the night. Time – time was essential, given the fact the warship now gave the people of Earth access to Galra technology, which in turn meant they might eventually figure out the signal Haxus used to send messages to Sendak. Of course, he was in possession to know when this might occur, yet...
He didn't know how much longer he'd be able to take living among humans, a definitely primitive race.
Every time he used the communication device, the crackling sound accompanied by the low whine occurred, his ears straining to hear the sound of a familiar voice, even a word unique to the Galra empire. Anything was better than the human children he found himself dealing with every day at the garrison, acting in ways Galra children never would have dreamed of acting like their self-discipline being much superior.
"Have you gotten any of my previous messages?"
"Do the humans really have the Castle of Lions under their control?"
"While the Castle of Lions is located at the garrison base, the Alteans are still in charge of the structure, while the lions have picked human pilots."
"Wait. There is an Altean still living?"
"Two. It is Princess Allura and the royal advisor."
"Alfor must have sealed her inside of the palace. Tell me more about these children the lions selected."
"As I've already said, these children are useless. They attempted forming Voltron with their leader, yet the five are not able to despite having formed Voltron to take down our warship. IT must have been a fluke."
"A fluke? That was no fluke Haxus."
Haxus swallowed, unsure of what he should say next. So far, his report didn't appear to be going over well with his commanding officer.
"Is there anything which you think pulled them together, rallied them?"
"Possibly the black paladin, the adult. He is considered the garrison's best pilot."
"Then, would you argue that unlike those four children he is easy to replace?"
"Humans are emotionally attached to their children."
"Are you arguing that taking the four out would solve our problem? I think it would make it worse."
"No. I'm arguing that we should take out the red paladin as the black paladin is definitely emotionally attached to the boy. He's apparently the boy's legal guardian."
"Then it is your job to do something about the boy if you think taking him out of the picture will have an adverse effect on the black paladin. I will contact you later."
"Actually, I was thinking of using the boy as a bargaining chip."
"If you really think it will work, then capture the boy and bring him here.
"Yes, sir. Haxus signing out." His head darted up, seeing if anybody saw him, yet unlike the night before, nobody appeared in the dark hallways he'd located himself in.
Chapter 11: Lectured
The words, "What am I going to do with you?" echoed through Keith's mind, making his ears buzz while he attempted listening to his older brother speak. The plastic box containing the food Elena's grandmother made rested under his fingertips, his eyes glued towards the ground, while his stomach churned uncontrollably. So many feelings rushed through his skull in just the last twenty-four hours, not including the last week; he felt like he was drowning.
Every so often, his eyes darted around the room, looking at James and Lance, worried they might say something which might set him off, yet Keith also wondered in the back of his mind if he'd actually crossed the line regarding what was going on. The silence – it was definitely as uncomfortable as Ryo acting nice or finding out Allura was actually a real person and not a figment of his imagination.
"So, let's start off by telling me what happened?" Shiro stood with his arms crossed, a rather imposing figure, just as the door to the principal's office opened up.
"There was a food fight. What more do you need to know?"
"I want to know who did what, that's what I want to know. It's not right to punish..."
"It doesn't matter as all of them were involved." The principal looked over at James, narrowing their eyes. "I'm majorly disappointed with you in particular Griffin. I would have thought you knew better. That said..." The principal turned towards Matt. "What are you doing here Holt?"
"I told you. I started the fight, but honestly, if you're unwilling to investigate that much I'm not sure you're the right person to be dealing with this situation."
"Considering the fact, I suspect this is your way of punishing Keith, yes, I do take major issue with the fact you're wanting to punish the students simply because they were in the wrong place at the time." Shiro glared at the principle.
"I can actually attest to the fact Keith didn't do anything, nor did Elena or Hunk for that matter." Holt lowered his voice. "And as much as I hate saying it, Griffin didn't have anything to do with it either."
"You're just trying to play favorites with Keith again!" Lance blurted out, his hands flinging out to his side. "Everyone plays favorites with Keith, including my abuela!"
"Actually," James glared at Shiro, raising his hand up. "I'm going to say I also take issue with you playing favorites with Kagone." For some reason, the color drained from Shiro's face again, while his jaw dropped. He swallowed, indicating something was bothering him, yet Keith felt guilty, figuring he'd done something yet again. "What's this about Keith living with you?"
"Yeah! That's unfair!"
"Unfair?" One of Keith's eyebrows shot up, his arms crossing his chest. Having Shiro as an older brother was bothersome, given how he switched from mother hen mode to being overprotective to the weird 'I've got the most adorable brother ever' stage, which was more often it seemed than the older brother mode Shiro used with Ryo. And then, there was Ryo. There was definitely Ryo. "You've no idea what kind of hell it is to live with Shiro."
Except, he'd not meant to say it that way. The horrified look on Shiro's face meant he'd really stepped in it, specifically upsetting his older brother, while Lance's eyes widened, his jaw-dropping, his finger pointing at Keith. "Don't talk about Shiro like that!"
"Why not?" James' words didn't make sense, given the fact Keith still remembered Griffin was, in fact, the first cadet he'd completely lost it with the first time at the garrison when he said something regarding his parents. Specifically, he'd said Keith's parents didn't want him. "Seriously, Keith would be better off if he was still at the group home than living with you!"
Keith felt like he was sinking into the depths of oblivion, having thought the same himself way too many times; he was, after all, a burden on Shiro, who shouldn't have to be caring for his younger siblings at all, not to mention Ryo was much easier to deal with than he ever was. He found himself sinking, wanting to say, "He's right Shiro," particularly when he saw a look of horror on his older brother's face when he looked up.
"That's a load of crap!" Shiro rarely if ever gets angry, yet Keith looked up, thinking Shiro was angry with him. "My..."
"Intentions are in the right place?" James glared at Shiro, yet Keith watched his older brother's face falter. "I don't think they are."
"Seriously! What is with the two of you talking crap about Shiro!" Lance stood up, looking as if he was about to lose it himself. Keith watched Shiro look over at the principle who simply glared at his older brother.
"Sorry, Shirogane, but you got into this mess on your own accord. I am not going to help you out of this mess." The principle turned, walking into the office, stopping in the doorway. "Whatever punishment you decide, I'll go with it. Have a nice day."
"So..." Hunk let out a sigh. "I'm seriously not following what's going on."
"Don't you remember? My abuela made Keith food, but not me. Then I learn that Keith is living with Shiro, my hero, yet there is no logical reason why he's living with Shiro."
"Um, I'm sure there is one." Hunk cleared his throat. "Keith, did you really live at a group home?"
"I..." Despite feeling like a burden, Keith remembered the stigma of living in a group home, of no foster family wanting him because of his behavioral issues.
"We don't talk about that, but I'd better not hear any of you repeating that." Shiro glared at James. "You were out of line."
"You're the one who's out of line!" James glared at Shiro.
"The conversation regarding Keith's living situation is over, but I'd better not hear it brought up again. Otherwise, my decision to not punish you will be recanted for all of you. Got it? Now get back to eating your lunches. You've unfortunately cut down on the time left to eat because of this matter, but you need to still eat."
"But..." Lance's mouth formed a pout.
"I am really not in a good mood, but I really need to talk to my team real quick. That means I need Lance and James to leave please."
Keith definitely felt sick, thinking about the group home and the fact he definitely felt as if he belonged there instead of with his older brother. His head hung low, but he felt like throwing up. He didn't see James when he said, "This isn't over Shirogane! Not like a long shot!"
He waited for anything, something to explode around him, matching how anxious he felt regarding the situation. Except, Shiro started off by saying, "Hey? Do you consider Hunk to be a friend Keith?"
Keith's eyes blinked, his head moving up so he could look Shiro in the eye. "What?"
"It's okay that you don't feel that way yet, but I definitely am hoping the two of you can become friends. The yellow lion picked him because he has a kind heart after all, but he is your teammate, just like Elena and Matt are."
Keith honestly didn't understand what his older brother was getting at. "I don't understand. Coran and Allura are also a part of the team."
Shiro let out a deep sigh of frustration, indicating, "what am I going to do with you" was going through his mind again, yet Keith wondered how many times that thought went through Shiro's head.
"Hold on." Matt got up, walking briskly over to Keith and whispering into Keith's ear. "He's talking about how Elena and I know Shiro's your older brother and that he's hoping you eventually come to trust Hunk enough to tell him."
"Oh." Keith swallowed. "Do you think that's why we're not forming Voltron, Shiro?"
"What?" Shiro's eyes blinked, obviously confused at what Keith was getting at.
"I don't trust Hunk enough to tell him, right?"
"That's not..." Shiro swallowed. "No. I don't think that's why. The reason we're not able to form Voltron, don't anyone of you blame yourself."
"To be honest though, Shiro..." Matt stood next to Keith, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I think all of us are lacking something – that there is something we each need to get over." The way Keith felt hearing that – something regarding the way Hunk and Elena's facial features fell said they felt the same. Matt let out a laugh. "Come on guys. That's not a bad thing. Kind of think of this as the heroes' journey, where we need to actually go through some epic quest and better ourselves."
"Thank you, Matt.," Shiro didn't look thankful though, but slightly annoyed. He looked at all four who were still there. "Anything else we need to go over?"
"Yeah." Hunk raised his hand. "What am I going to do for lunch?"
"Just do what I'm going to do and get something from the vending machine."
"But I already bought and paid for it, and it got wasted! I can't believe Lance did that!"
"Yeah, I think Lance wasting Hunk's lunch is not the same as you wasting your lunch Matt."
"I've got an idea." Elena lifted her hand up. "My abuela actually provided lunches for all three of us, but if Matt's willing to get some stuff from the snack machine, do you think we could split it up between the four of us?"
"I – yeah." Shiro smiled. "I think the four of you should spend some time getting to know each other. Just don't tell Lance that Hunk and Matt also got to eat some of Lydia's food. I'll set you four up in the conference room, but if you need a pass to class, let me know." Shiro glanced over at the clock. "Because this honestly chewed up a lot of your lunchtime."
Chapter 12: Planning
Most kids from the group home were messed up, which was why they were there, or at least that was what James Griffin understood when he was younger. Keith Kogane definitely fit the definition of messed up, rarely socializing with the other kids in their class, yet when he did interact, he tended to do say or do something everyone thought rather weird.
He couldn't deny a bit of jealousy when Takashi Shirogane took a shine to the dark sheep in their class, yet irritation when Keith purposefully messed up their flight drills on purpose making their group suffer. He'd made the mistake of saying Keith's parents didn't want him after outright asking why Shiro would want anything to do with him, which in turn caused Keith to fly off the handle.
They'd both ended up in the principle's office, yet James learned he did not want to be on the wrong end of one of Keith's punches ever again. This didn't mean he liked his classmate, yet he purposefully chose not to have anything to do with him, pushing his frustration at Shiro's apparent favoritism to the back of his mind and instead focusing on his own studies, attempting to outdo Keith where he could. He let other kids like Lance get in trouble for messing with Keith.
That was until today.
The garrison picked him out of all their classmates to show the new girl around. For some reason, she came with Shirogane and Kogane, yet in the back of his head, it bothered him. For once, it didn't bother him like it usually did, and instead was this feeling of dread, like something was wrong. His suspicions were confirmed when Elena Alvarez said, "We live in the same apartment building."
His personal view of Shiro definitely soured at that moment, for in the back of his mind he couldn't think of a single reason why Shiro would have Keith living with them that wouldn't be known to everyone, meaning Keith living with Shiro was under the nose of even the garrison. That, or they were very much aware but willing to turn a blind eye when it came to one of their top graduates.
It made him feel sick, yet the way the principle acted, he wasn't sure he could take his concerns to Iverson – that even the commander was turning a blind eye.
"Seriously! It's not fair!"
"Would you please stop whining already?" For some strange reason, Lance was now following him, using James as an ear to rant about how unfair it was that Keith got special treatment as he did.
"And you! How dare you talk to Shiro like you did!" Lance pointed his finger and James' making him feel rather irritated regarding the matter. "How dare you talk about him like you did!"
"Are you really that oblivious?" In truth, he didn't want to think someone was that oblivious.
"I know full well you were accusing Shiro of doing something bad to Keith, but Shiro's not the type of person to do anything bad to anybody! Not unless they're, like, the enemy!"
"Okay. Maybe you're not that oblivious."
"If anyone is hurting someone in this arrangement, it is Keith hurting Shiro."
"What exactly is your problem with Kogane?"
"I'm his rival, but he never treats me as such!"
James found himself staring at Lance, looking right in his blue eyes, his mouth twisting in frustration. "Seriously? You want people to believe you're his rival?"
"Because I am?"
"How can you be his rival when you're not even in the fighter pilot program? You're still in the cargo pilot program, but he's also our top pilot. Even I can't keep up with him, but if anybody's his rival, it's likely me." Except, he'd really not thought of their relationship in that manner, never seeing Keith as someone to surpass when he failed in so many other ways.
"I see the two of you've been asked to leave Shiro's group of paladins since you two weren't chosen by the lions."
A shiver ran down James' spine. He turned, looking at Sablan, watching the man carefully. He was another commanding officer at the base, yet he'd so far had little to no interaction with the man. However, there was quite a bit he didn't understand regarding what the man said. "What do you mean chosen by the lions? What are these paladins?"
Lance interrupted Sablan. "The five lions form Voltron, the thing that saved everybody, but they're stored in that Castle of Lions thing. Shiro was picked as the leader for obvious reasons, Hunk got picked for the yellow one because he's a nice guy, something I believed, this Matt Holt person is apparently very smart, though I don't think he is given the fact he started the food fight, and Elena, she's my adorable cousin who was picked for the blue lion for reasons I really don't understand."
"You said there were five. What about..."
"The one Keith flies should be the one I fly! After all, I am the best pilot, not to mention good looking. I can't believe Princess Allura can't see the charm behind this face of mine."
"Are you some kind of narcissist?"
"Of course not! I'm just fed up with people not noticing how amazing I am, or appreciating me for the skills I have. Keith's always hogging the spotlight."
James felt his throat tighten, his arms crossing his chest. "Oh. I get it. Your issue with Keith is that you want the spotlight for yourself."
"Of course!" Lance flinched. "Hey! I am the one who should be in the spotlight."
"Well, that's why I'm approaching you. I don't feel they picked the right ones, but I'd like help from the two of you regarding that."
"What's in it for us."
"Hey! I didn't agree to this!" James glared at Lance.
"What do you think will happen if one of the lions rejects its paladin?"
"It would need a new paladin?" James narrowed his eyes. "You want us to undermine what is going on, so I'm out."
"Can you argue they're the best choice for the job?"
"Honestly, I don't know. Something is telling me whatever you have going on is a bad idea, so regardless of my feelings, I'm baking out. Plus, I've got other concerns right now." He turned, leaving, pausing briefly so he might look back, contemplating whether he should take on the man's proposal if it meant that Keith would no longer be under Shiro's thumb. He almost changed his mind, only to remember the adults were likely already overlooking what was going on. "I'll make my own plans, thank you."
He turned, contemplating his options, his mind feeling he needed to do something to prevent Keith from going back to Shiro's place.
Chapter 13: Building Bonds
"What am I going to do with you." He probably shouldn't have used those exact words; Shiro imagined Adam – if he were still alive – would have something to say regarding those exact words, not to mention have handled the situation better. In the back of his mind, there were so many reasons to miss Adam, to grieve for him despite the fact recent events left Shiro majorly struggling for a chance to grieve.
Of course, he wasn't the only one affected by everything going on; Adam, after all, was one of the stable things in Keith's life he'd learned to come and trust before his entire world ended up shaken from the ground up. In the back of his mind, he found himself left wondering if forcing Keith to eat was a good idea, or if Adam might have another suggestion. "It's frustrating not having someone to bounce ideas off of."
Yet, there was Penelope Alvarez, offering the chance of being a sounding board as one single parent to another if he ever needed an ear, yet in the back of his mind, he wondered if she might be a sounding board regarding his grief. Shiro wasn't sure what drew him out of his thoughts, but whatever it was – he found himself sitting in the conference room watching four kids divvy up the food in front of them, almost as if they'd always been friends their entire life.
His eyes focused in on Keith, who – from Shiro's perspective – was the one teen not acting in this manner. "Come on Shiro. You're overthinking this. Keith's just being Keith, but you know none of these kids would treat Keith as anything but a friend. Elena after all, made major progress with him, her, her significant other and her brother, but she's actively attempting to engage him."
Of course, Elena's attempts in engaging him, getting him to eat didn't seem to be working. Perhaps what drew his attention away from his inner thoughts was how slowly the others were beginning to worry about Keith and the fact he wasn't eating. The look on Matt's face was one of definite worry, while Elena – despite the fact she'd likely consider the label sexist – was definitely acting like a mother hen.
It was Hunk who finally said something. "Is your stomach upset? Is that why you're not eating?"
"Then you should eat. You don't want me to play the flying shuttle into your mouth game."
"I think he's talking about the game parents play with really little kids when they're being stubborn about eating. It can be a choo-choo, an airplane..."
Elena took a deep breath. "The real point here is, you don't want Hunk to play that game as it's super embarrassing having someone force-feed you, but that was also his way of being nice about it. I'm not going to be nice, because the last thing I want to see is one of my friends making themselves sick because they're refusing to eat."
"Oh..." Shiro started speaking up. "And you don't want to get on my bad side by making yourself sick, do you, Keith? Because you know I'll be very upset if you do. I won't be the only one. Ryo – he'll be much worse."
"You mean he'll finally stop being nice to me."
Shiro almost gagged, hating the fact Keith now looked at him with a look on his face which said he definitely wanted their brother to go back to the way things were. Change – Keith never dealt with change well. Warning bells went off in Shiro's mind, telling him Keith might make himself sick on purpose. "No. He's going to be even more nice than usual. That behavior that is bothering you? Guess what? It's only going to increase."
Keith's eye went wide in horror, but he finally decided to take a bite of food. The look on his face said he enjoyed it, but the way he muttered as he spoke after he swallowed said he was still being down. "Okay, Maybe I am hungry. I still don't feel good, so after I finish, can I still go to the nurse's office?"
"Yeah. I get the fact things have been crazy for you the last few days and your mind's still processing everything."
"Hey! Did you know that alien chick was in his dreams and that's how he found the place."
Shiro's mouth dropped, quite unsure of what to say regarding the unexpected connection between Keith and Allura. Yet, in the back of his mind, he wondered if that explained why Keith was so awkward earlier in the day, avoiding eye contact with her. More importantly, he wondered if he was going to have a conversation with Keith which Adam lectured him about having with his younger brother months ago.
Mentally, Shiro cursed himself.
His phone went off, making him let out a sigh. He pulled out the phone, looking at the number. "Speaking of Ryo, it seems he's calling me."
"You aren't going to tell him..."
"Eat your food and I won't. That said, him being nice isn't actually a bad thing Keith. Maybe one of these three can explain that to you because I've still not thought of an explanation." Shiro stepped out of the room but lifted his phone up. "Ryo, I'm kind of busy right now."
"Aren't you on your lunch break?"
"Sort of. What do you want?"
"Well, how's Keith doing?"
Shiro opened his mouth yet remembered Keith almost didn't eat. As such, saying he was alright would be a lie. "You know, Keith is pretty freaked out about you becoming nice and all concerned all of the sudden. Maybe you should back off a bit? It's driving him insane and I'm having to personally deal with him going insane."
His words were met with a brief silence. "Fine. You're not going to tell me about Keith, so can you tell me about Allura?"
"You know. The girl Keith's dreamed about – tried telling me about. Akira's imaginary friend that I went along with when we were younger. Some fairy tale princess who turns out not to be some fairy tale, but a real-life alien chick who he most definitely has a crush on."
"Keith doesn't have a crush on Allura."
"I'm quite sure I know what I'm talking about."
"Says the person who insisted I couldn't have feelings for Adam because I'd so far only dated girls."
"Yeah, well as you pointed out, there is such a thing as bisexuality, but you're also not my twin brother, so I can't read you the same way."
Shiro felt his eyebrows shooting up. "This is coming from someone who's struggled with reading Keith ever since we became a family unit again." He was met with another silence, yet he found himself thinking a strange thought. "Or are you saying you can read him?"
"You're not the one who had to deal with learning your twin was alive when everyone kept telling you that he was dead, and you were insane for thinking otherwise."
"That..." Shiro's eyes opened and closed, his eyes drifting towards the ground. "Are you saying you do have – you know – this twin thing, but you've been pretending it didn't exist because people told you it didn't?"
"It's not just that Takashi."
"Okay, then elaborate."
"It's kind of a two-way thing, but..." Ryo paused.
"Keith's amnesia. The fact he doesn't remember us from his childhood let alone being called Akira."
"That. It's really hard to attune myself to him, painful, not like it was before. But... I was almost afraid I wouldn't ever get that back. And then there's this girl. Picking up on that – that was easy, but I thought – I thought it might be a way in. I'm tired of the way things are."
"I get that, but you need to give him time."
"It's been well over a year – a few now."
"And you were a pain in the ass." Shiro pinched the bridge of his nose. "Look. Let's talk about this when I get home. I'd rather this be a face to face conversation, maybe between the three of us."
Chapter 14: Formulated
"How are you and Keith? Did the first day go well"
Elena was honestly glad to see a message from her significant other. "I'm doing okay, although so far things haven't gone well. I've yet to go to class, but I think everything's having an effect on Keith."
Syd replied. "You're his friend. You'll help him pull through."
"Maybe. He's weirded out by the fact his twin brother was being nice to him all of a sudden."
"I think it's weird that twins don't get along."
"Maybe that's a myth perpetuated by media? That twins always get along?"
"That would be interesting to examine, though I don't think we could make a campaign for it. Twins aren't thought of as a minority."
"I don't think it's that they're not thought of as a minority, but they're seen instead as a privileged minority with perks. But no, since they're not persecuted, I don't think we could make a change in that."
She'd sent that right before heading into the cafeteria, not expecting she'd have more to tell Syd later after she got done with classes for the day.
The way her cousin acted honestly made her stomach feel nauseated, completely uncomfortable with how he acted. Making matters worse, this wasn't the cousin who she felt comfortable coming out to over the summer before the school year started, but someone else entirely. No, the person in front of her was someone their abuela would be embarrassed by, that Alex would no longer think cool.
She'd had some suspicion regarding the matter when Lance crashed the sleepover cadets could arrange for friends and family to show what their life at the garrison was like. The weekend which was supposed to be amazing ended up – well, discovering an alien princess she and Syd both agreed was beautiful and sexually appealing was definitely an amazing event, as was the whole Voltron thing, although terrifying.
No, spending the weekend locked up in the apartment instead of learning about the garrison and hanging out with Keith wasn't what she'd planned on doing for the weekend. In the back of her mind, she contemplated doing something which might make things easier for her fellow paladins yet didn't want to exclude Syd and Alex. Unfortunately, this would mean Lance would – if he found out, likely throw a fit.
Instead, she found herself attempting to get Keith to eat, yet in the back of her mind, she was sure Keith was bothered by the fact they'd gotten in trouble despite the fact he'd definitely done nothing. She was left wondering if that was a common occurrence at the Garrison, although she also remembered the fight Lance and Keith got into.
Keith finally started eating, her abuela's food working it's magic, although the food didn't take away all of the pain he was likely feeling, nor did she want to push him into talking about what happened. He still wanted to go to the nurse's office. Hunk piped up. "You aren't going to miss PE, are you?"
"Isn't gym your favorite class next to piloting, which you've already missed out on." Hunk took a deep breath. "I don't like it, but you should try getting out of the nurse's office – I mean, feeling better before then, so you don't have to miss out."
"Um, thanks, I guess."
"Well, that's certainly not a class we'd share." Elena smiled at him. "I do hope we share some, but – maybe Allura can join us for class?"
Keith's eyes blinked. "I guess."
"Don't you like her."
"Like her..." She watched Keith react, his voice tightening. "Of course not! I mean, I don't like her, like her, but as for that other kind of like, I really don't know her yet." His eyes blinked before he turned his head away. "I think I'll head to the nurse's office now."
"He so has a crush on her."
"Definitely." Matt let out a laugh. "Shiro's going to have his hands full."
"I take it this is new for him?" Elena looked at the corner Keith retreated behind, quite sure he wasn't heading to the nurse's office, nor did he seem like the kind of person who would get lost easily. "Is the nurse's office that way?"
"No. Your cousin Vanessa's office is that way." Matt placed a hand on his chin. "As for whether that's new for Keith..."
"I wouldn't know. I mean, I've never had a bad interaction with him like everyone else has and think everyone's overreacting, including Lance – well, outside of the fact Keith really does get bored easily and that leads to him doing things that sometimes ends up getting not just himself in trouble, but everyone else, but he really means no harm."
"No, it's definitely new."
"Isn't he supposed to be heading to the nurse's office though?"
"Your cousin Vanessa is the garrison psychiatrist, but Keith would rather not deal with the infirmary – which is the nurse's office. Not when his doctor's there."
"Wait? Keith's..." Hunk paused. "No, that makes sense as Shiro is apparently his legal guardian, that his doctor would be one of the garrison doctors."
"I don't think I want to know how he'd react to finding out my mother is a nurse." Elena let out a sigh. "I'll head to my first class. I am glad to finally actually be focusing on my education, but it's irritating that commander person wasn't wanting to let me focus. I'm actually behind, I think."
"Yeah – if you need a study buddy..."
"We could have a paladin study date!" Hunk piped up.
"Well, there is that."
"I think Lance would want to be invited to anything we do, but isn't he your best friend?" Elena tried smiling at Hunk.
"Yeah, well, Lance doesn't like studying. He'd just good off, but you're right in saying he'd show up anyways."
"See you later. Oh, hold on. Can I see your phones so we can exchange numbers? I think Syd would like your numbers as well, but we can get Keith's later on."
"Syd – she...."
"So then, I'm guessing girlfriend applies to yourself, but not her?"
"Yup." Elena took in a deep breath, feeling a bit strange acting like a normal teenager for once, or a teenager with friends at school. She received a message from Syd, letting her know both Hunk and Matt sent her hellos, which thrilled them quite a bit, given they were homeschooled. Taking a deep breath, she tucked her phone into her bag and entered the first class. She watched one of the teacher's eyebrows go up.
"Ah, the new student."
Swallowing, she handed the note Shiro wrote for her, but she didn't like the way the teacher sighed, making her wonder what she'd done wrong.
"Great. You were supposed to learn how to log into the school's computers that we use during first period. I can't believe Sablan made you miss classes, but he's always been a pain." The teacher looked at the other students. "Don't repeat any of that, but work on your lessons. Things are simply crazy because of what happened this weekend, but we'll possibly be getting more students."
Elena wasn't sure what to think about that, beyond the fact she hoped they meant Allura. She took a deep breath, finding the use of the computer quite easy, yet she found herself focused on the work in front of her, quickly confirming that, yes, she would need some catching up, yet there was definitely side material assigned to her for this very purpose. Letting out a sigh, she continued working, listening to the teacher drone on, when a message in her school e-mail popped up.
She opened it, following a link to a forum, her blood-chilling as she looked at the forum thread someone linked to her, but she looked up at a couple of girls who were giggling amongst each other, shaking her head. "Some things aren't going to change regardless of the school you attend, but you are the new girl and stand out like a sore thumb."
However, the chat honestly bothered her.
"Did you hear about Voltron?" She wasn't sure who started the thread, but it was right there, everyone talking about the ship of obvious alien design that most of the students weren't allowed to get near, but how certain students were, in fact, possible pilots. It was one thread in particular which caught her attention.
"I know who the paladins are, but one of them shouldn't be a paladin."
She felt sick, yet in the back of her mind she knew only two other people at the school who were cadets knew about the term paladin being used – Lance, and James. Glancing up, she saw him near the front of the class, watching the teacher carefully, but when the bell rang, she decided she would confront him. "Hey."
"You. You live in the same apartment building as them."
She then remembered James seemed to have a strange idea regarding Shiro. "What you think is going on isn't."
"There's no way you could possibly know."
"Yes, there is, but as Keith said, it isn't your business." She took a deep breath. "Why did you say that one of the paladins shouldn't be a paladin?"
"What do you mean?"
"Only you and Lance are aware those terms are used for us, right?"
"And?" James let an eyebrow rise up, and then. "Oh." He looked away. "Look, your cousin isn't the saint you think he is. He's likely the one who started the thread, so take it up with him, but if you aren't going to help me with the situation between Keith and Shiro, I've no business with you."
"That..." Elena's mouth twisted into a frown, frustrated with how the situation turned out.
Chapter 15: Plans
When people were nice to him, he felt uncomfortable.
In truth, he found himself uncomfortable before he sat down to eat lunch with what – Keith personally assumed – his new crew. Thinking about his entire time at the garrison, he'd never been placed with a crew that lasted more than a week or two, making things even more awkward without getting into the whole sharing lunch as if they were, in fact, all friends. Hunk was, in fact, Lance's friend while Matt – he was the kid who Shiro utilized when Adam couldn't watch him.
Of course, Elena and her significant other who was most definitely not there at the moment were people he could consider friends, yet Elena's presence didn't make the situation any less uncomfortable, nor did it make him feel any less like he needed to head to the nurse's office – which of course often meant the councilor's office instead. He headed in that direction, though he didn't get there quickly, his mind wandering as he headed there.
The sound of a familiar voice made Keith let out a sigh. He turned, looking at Lance, not understanding why Lance seemed so fixated on him. "Oh. The cargo pilot."
"I take offense at that!"
"Because it's so not true!"
"Um..." Keith stared at Lance, completely baffled by what Lance said. "That makes absolutely no sense at all."
"Yes, it does! What you said about me isn't true."
"Seriously. I didn't call you..." Keith took a deep breath. "You do realize I called you a cargo pilot because you are a cargo pilot? That's what you're in training for."
Lance stared at him for what felt like forever, which made Keith turn away, planning on heading to the sanctuary of the councilor's office, his mind wondering if he would, in fact, need to head to the nurses' office despite the fact he hated the infirmary. He felt Lance's hand clap down on his shoulder, which in turn made him fight back the urge to slug the other teen for touching him, knowing this would be a great way to make Shiro's day even worse, though to be honest, he was tired of getting into fights.
"Stop ignoring me! If it weren't for you I'd actually be a fighter pilot."
Keith stared down the hall, wishing he'd made the decision of going to the nurses' office as this meant Lance wouldn't have found him. "I'm not following, given..."
He didn't get the chance of finishing his sentence, pointing out the fact he was considered the top pilot, so his score wouldn't have an effect on Lance getting into the fighter pilot program. Lance, on the other hand, had other thoughts. "Everyone knows you're Shiro's favorite."
"Are you implying that the only reason I'm..."
"Yeah, I am! Everyone says that!" Lance held up his phone. "See."
Keith looked at Lance's phone, which was connected to the forum system many of the garrison students used which he preferred not using. In the first few weeks, he learned things were said which simply set him off. "I don't care what other people say about me."
"Well, everyone's talking about how your Shiro's favorite and that's the reason you place the highest, not because you have any real skill." Lance took a deep breath. "Why would they want that person to be a member of this Voltron thing?"
"What?" Keith turned his head.
"Wait. That's not the forum thread I meant to read. I just happened to have started that one..."
Keith grabbed the phone from Lance's hand, his eyes looking down at the thread. "What... you started a thread saying one of us paladins doesn't belong and should be replaced?"
"Well, you should be. I mean, do you really think you're..."
"It doesn't matter that I don't think I'm good enough to be on the team." Keith shoved the phone into Lance's face. "I'm not the one they're saying should be removed, you idiot."
"Because they're talking about the new girl. As in your cousin Elena. If you weren't her cousin..."
"Hold on. That wasn't the plan."
"You're right. That wasn't the plan." The sound of Commander Sablan's voice made Keith flinch, his mind going back to when the man tried interrogating him without Shiro being present. He swallowed, a feeling of dread washing over him. The look on Lance's face said something was definitely wrong, but he watched him back away a couple of steps. "So..." The voice changed, making Keith's blood freeze. The person was most definitely a Galra, but he felt the purple alien step forward, whatever was cloaking him dispersing. He towered over both him and Lance in size, but his hand went to a blade. "I obviously don't need you anymore."
Keith moved instinctively as the intruder moved to use his blade against Lance, pushing the other boy out of the way, turning to face the Galra, his eyes narrowing. He felt the blade tear through his right shoulder at the front painfully as he stumbled backward into Lance, his mind wondering why he bothered saving the teen who constantly badgered him. His entire body shook, looking at the purple alien.
"Well, perhaps he will come in handy." Keith felt a large hand pull him away, thrown into the wall, resulting in him crashing into the ground painfully. Letting out a groan, he pushed himself up from the ground, his head turning so he watched the Galra, his mind intent on attacking the enemy he saw in front of him, but this particular Galra moved quickly, moving behind Lance and placing his blade at Lance's throat. "So, are you going to come willingly, or am I going to have to kill your friend here."
"He's not my friend," Lance piped up.
"Well, that is true, but he was more than willing to put his life on the line to save you." The Galra looked at him, his eyes narrowed, making a shiver run down Keith's spine. Personally, he hoped they wouldn't get far. He put his hands up in the air.
"Okay. I'll go willingly, though you do realize this will just buy Shiro time to find us."
"Yes, well, I've got control over the garrison cameras, so he won't know where on base we'll be, but I do know that he'll do anything to get you back safely. The fact you're injured, that actually helps in that equates my time limit." The Galra then gave marching orders and Keith complied, his hand on his injured shoulder, both from the blade, and being flung into the wall. Every so often he glanced back at Lance, whose facial feature twisted in guilt, though he wasn't sure what to think about the other's reaction.
Chapter 16: That Thing
The feeling of dread which settled in the pit of Shiro's stomach wasn't something he got rid of even after knowing the other kids in the Voltron crew were looking out for his younger brother. He felt dread for utilizing child soldiers, not to mention not knowing how the people of Earth would react to knowing most of the crew were in fact children. He felt dread as an older brother would feel dread regarding his younger brother struggling to get through life, so he brushed the growing feeling aside.
Instead, he planned a meeting for the students right after school, calling Penelope and letting her know they would be late getting back, particularly since he wanted to make sure the kids were getting the proper makeup work from their earlier classes along with the fact Elena was acclimating to the garrison. Instead, he got Lydia, who was more than understanding regarding the fact they would need to practice forming Voltron, which would be treated as an extracurricular activity.
He sent Ryo a text letting him know he should get dinner on his own – for some reason his other younger brother, Keith's twin, left way to many messages in his inbox for Shiro's liking, making him think that, yes, Keith was right about the way Ryo was acting. He'd started thinking this when Ryo called to bother him during lunchtime, but now he felt as if Ryo was becoming paranoid.
Of course, there were some messages from Commander Sablan which he wouldn't open.
The first person to arrive at the designated meeting was Allura, who he thought would be more ecstatic regarding the fact he'd secured her the ability to attend classes with the paladins, although she would likely need to catch up even more than Elena did, depending on the subject matter. She didn't react the way he expected, her facial features twisted in worry while Coran looked on with disapproval.
"Look. I know you don't want her to participate in classes, but this is a way for her to bond with her classmates. Sam Holt said something about making the appropriate arrangements for the students, but this way she feels like she's fitting in rather than being treated like an outsider."
"Well, there is that." Coran turned and looked at the princess. "Are you sure princess, this is what you want?"
"Will Akira be attending."
"Keith..." Shiro paused, surprised upon hearing her use that name. "He goes by Keith."
"Oh. He'll be attending, right. Because I got this feeling..."
"He attends classes. When he's not skipping out."
Coran raised an eyebrow. "Aren't you his legal guardian?"
"It's complicated." He didn't want to explain how Keith struggled with some of the students and teachers, yet suspected Allura and Coran would eventually find out. "There are things that are outside of a legal guardian's control, you know."
"Yes. There is that."
Elena arrived next, her eyes unable to look Shiro in the eye. He walked over. "Hey. Something the matter?"
"Um, no. I mean..." She let out a sigh. "I guess I should volunteer the fact my cousin is bullying Keith again."
"What?" One of Allura's eyebrows shot up, but so did the eyebrow of Coran.
"Is this what you're referring too? About it being complicated."
"As I said, complicated."
Matt showed up next, closely followed by Matt. "So... apparently someone is being an ass on the forums again. I locked the topic, but we really need to work on this teamwork thing."
"That's why we're going to be working on forming Voltron as an extracurricular activity, but since us forming Voltron is according to Coran and Allura based on how well we work together as a team, I figured we'd do an hour of team-building exercises which will vary depending on what the group needs, but I'll go into that more when..." Shiro stopped speaking, looking at the familiar face.
The person looked like Keith, yet was definitely not dressed in the garrison uniform, not to mention there were those slight differences an older brother would recognize, such as the way the person in front of him presented himself. Hunk's eyes widened, while Shiro glared at the person in question, crossing his arms and giving Ryo the best, "I'm going to kill you when we get home for not waiting for us to get home to discuss what's going on," look.
"Oh, Keith's here."
"That's not Keith."
Shiro's eyes blinked, his eyes glued on Allura wondering how she knew that Ryo wasn't Keith yet saw a look of anger in her eyes as she looked at what – from the tone of voice she used – was to her an imposter. Ryo looked right at her. "Are you Allura?"
"What is it to you?"
"Um, Allura..." Hunk took a deep breath. "I'm sure that's Keith. I mean..."
"You sense it too, don't you?"
"Sense what?" Shiro felt exasperated with both of his younger brothers.
"Maybe you sense it too Takashi."
"Wait..." Hunk pointed at Ryo. "Keith never calls you that."
"I never said I was Keith." Ryo's focus remained on Allura. "You sense that Akira's in trouble, don't you. It's been bothering you for a few hours now, hasn't it?"
"How do you know that?" Allura continued glaring at him, but Coran's jaw dropped.
"Um, shouldn't we be asking who Akira is?" Hunk was obviously confused, nor could Shiro blame him for being that way. He let out a sigh.
"Akira and Keith are the same person."
"Do you think that you could sense where he is?" Ryo continued looking right at Allura.
"You've still not said how you know Keith – Akira is in trouble."
"Wait!" Hunk spluttered. "That's Keith, right in front of us. I mean, unless he has..."
Ryo bowed, catching Hunk off guard, but his words made Hunk stop speaking. "Please. Help me rescue my brother."
"Um, I was going to say, twin." Hunk looked at Shiro. "Please tell me this is some kind of weird joke Keith and you cooked up with Allura's help."
Shiro took a deep breath, thinking perhaps the feeling of dread was actually for a good reason – that he shouldn't have ignored his big brother instinct as simply him being over paranoid like another sibling of theirs. "Nope. This is Ryo. He is most definitely Keith's twin brother."
Chapter 17: Hand Dealt
"This is entirely your fault."
He honestly didn't feel good, but honestly who would feel alright if they were in his current situation of someone having stabbed him and tied him up so they might use him for leverage against Shiro of all people. Lance telling him, no, blaming him for something he somehow, for once knew wasn't his fault didn't at all help how Keith felt, but his eyes felt heavy.
"Seriously. You're going to go there?"
"Well, it is your fault."
"Should I remind you of the fact you're the one who came up with whatever plan you had going on?"
"I'm not the one who has a Galra after me, but somehow I got drug into your crap."
"You got drug into his crap because you let yourself be manipulated because you're jealous of him." The Galra spoke from a distant corner of the room. Keith turned his head, watching the man – alien, carefully. Said Galra rolled their eyes, indicating they found Lance's complaining annoying, but he stood there with his arms crossed. In fact, Lance wasn't intended to be a part of this whole scenario.
Lance almost ended up dead, but then the Galra discovered Keith could be manipulated into coming with him willingly simply because Keith was all about doing the right thing. In the back of his mind, he remembered it was his brother who drove that into his head – to always do the right thing, so he wondered how Shiro would feel that they were in this mess because of his advice. "He'd be proud." Keith brushed away the thought as himself lying to himself and instead turned his head slightly. "Lance..."
"I think you should keep in mind the only reason you're alive right now."
"Oh, because you rescued me? For your information, I didn't need you to rescue me. I got ninja skills."
"Um, no – you do not." Keith let out a deep sigh. "I'm talking about the fact he's more than willing to kill you now that he doesn't have any use for you, so you might want to tone the complaints down."
"Oh, he's somewhat right." The Galra pushed himself away from the wall. "I am definitely annoyed with all of the talking, but I do have a use for you in that it keeps this one in check and makes sure he doesn't do anything funny. But that doesn't mean I can't do something else."
"Okay. Shutting up now so I don't face bodily harm."
"I was thinking more of gagging you." Keith now couldn't see the Galra, now could he see what said Galra was doing to Lance meaning he didn't know whether said Galra was simply gagging Lance, or killing him. Well, there wasn't a scream, so Lance must be alive. He sucked in his breath. "Shiro won't trade."
"Oh. You're saying you're not someone precious to him."
"No. I'm saying Shiro will do the right thing and not turn Voltron over to the Galra."
"You think too highly of him, but then I guess he's also where you get your stupid morals from."
"They're not stupid!"
"Because of what? The kid who bullied you constantly is alive? I'd think you of all people would be grateful that he's..." The Galra paused, listening to the sound of something muffled try to protest what he was saying. Keith was sure it was Lance, gagged as he was, trying to argue he'd never bullied Keith. "Well, I'd think you'd be grateful for him being dead, right? Then all of your problems would, in fact, be gone."
"They wouldn't, but if that's the Galra's solution to everything..."
"You wouldn't be in this situation if you took out your opponents as the Galra do."
"First off, they're not opponents. Second, I've been in plenty of fights where I licked the guy, and no- it didn't' do me any good."
"Well, perhaps that's because human society is barbaric compared to the Galra and doesn't see the benefit from taking out your opponents, those who would hold you back or outright take your rank."
Of course, that didn't seem right, yet Keith couldn't place why this didn't seem right to him. He only wished Shiro would show up and save him, but then the Galra said something which sent a shiver down Keith's spine.
"Oh, now you're wanting him to save you despite saying he wouldn't turn Voltron over to anyone. I'd like to see him try."
"Shiro is amazing." Keith heard Lance mutter from behind him in agreement. Despite feeling like a burden to Shiro, he knew Shiro shouldn't be underestimated. His head felt dizzy, his heart pounding, his shoulder throbbing in pain, yet he quite clearly knew Shiro to be a force to be reckoned with, having seen his older brother sparring with some of the higher-ups at the garrison. He now found himself glaring defiantly at the Galra in front of him.
Said Galra smacked him across the face which in turn made the chair he was on tilt over. He hit the ground with a smash, the breath leaving his lungs while his vision went fuzzy for a few minutes. Glancing up, he saw Lance looking down at him, his blue eyes indicating he was worried, which felt strange given how antagonistic Lance tended to be.
Keith let out a sigh, resting his head on his shoulder. "What he's worried about is himself and the fact he might not get out of this situation. Even if Shiro does something, neither one of us might get out. I wish..." The thought perplexed him. "I wish Ryo actually cared if something happened to me. I know Shiro does, but the fact Ryo..."
His eyes widened, remembering Ryo's behavior recently. He did, in fact, act as he cared, yet in the back of Keith's mind, he struggled with believing this true despite the fact he wanted it to be true. He let out a sigh, his mind drifting to Allura, unsure of why he felt she'd definitely be bothered with something happening to him despite the fact he kept telling himself this was wishful thoughts on his part for both Ryo and Shiro.
Chapter 18: Say What
From the look on Shiro's face and the way he pinched his face, that was definitely not how he wanted Hunk to find out. In fact, Elena couldn't help but think Shiro was honestly loosing it, not that she couldn't blame him given the fact the man was a soldier put in charge of a bunch of children, not to mention what her mother went through was enough to cause some level of PTSD. In the back of her mind, she wondered how Ryo and Keith copped with Shiro's PTSD let alone if they even realized it existed.
Yet, in the back of her mind, she wondered how Allura knew Ryo was, in fact, Keith's twin, let alone how she knew Keith was also called Akira. In fact, she knew Ryo wasn't Keith at first glance, yet Ryo knew Keith was in trouble like Allura did – which, honestly, that could not be helping Shiro's current mental state. She took a deep breath, waiting for Hunk to react. The Yellow Paladin turned, looking Shiro in the eye. "So, um – you take care of Keith and his brother?"
"Um yeah, though we don't talk about it."
"Keith is in trouble and I can find him. He's still nearby."
"Honestly, I don't think I want to know." Shiro looked at Allura, the look on his face indicating he was struggling taking what she said in."
"You don't want to know he's in trouble."
"No, I mean. I don't think I want to know how you know that. I'm..." Shiro let out a sigh, turning to Elena and Hunk. "Can you two stay here with Ryo?"
"Wait." Elena swallowed. "You don't think we can help?"
"No." Shiro pointed at Ryo. "I want him to stay put, which means keeping some of the team behind, which means Matt and I go since Allura needs to show us where Keith is and I doubt Coran, as her legal guardian would approve of her going unless he goes."
"That is correct, but I also have skill."
Elena watched Coran throw off what looked like fake martial arts moves. She wasn't sure how much use the princess's advisor would actually be. Her eyes drifted over to Ryo, a shudder running down her spine when she saw the look on his face. There was a definite aura surrounding Ryo – what she expected was a killing aura, but his hands clenched. "Takashi..."
Shiro held up his hand. "I know what you're going to say. You're going to say you have the skills needed for this."
"You know that I do. Anybody..."
"Don't. I know who you're talking about and we don't talk about them in front of people Keith's not made aware of – that, but that is even more reason for you not to go. There's no telling what kind of damage you would do in the process, yet I don't even know what we're up against, so you are most definitely staying put. Plus, it puts my mind at ease."
Elena turned towards Ryo. "He definitely needs his mind put at ease."
"Just trust me, will you Ryo."
She watched Ryo plop down into one of the chairs, letting out a sigh. She looked at Shiro, still feeling as if they were being treated as the useless part of the team, yet her stomach churned uncomfortably at the idea something might happen to Keith. Keith – Keith was a good friend, one she only made recently, yet she didn't want to lose. Shiro nodded his head, almost unaware of how she was feeling, not that there was time for him to worry about such things.
When they left, she let out a sigh. "Well, this is wonderful."
"You're telling me."
"So, you're related to Shiro as well."
Both looked up at Hunk, their jaws dropping. Ryo swallowed. "Wait. I thought Keith hadn't told you that?"
"Well, he didn't."
Elena's eyes widened. "Wait. How did you figure it out?"
"I'm honestly not quite sure. I guess finding out that Keith is living with Shiro did the trick, though I honestly don't understand why they didn't tell anyone. It might have solved a lot of Keith's problems regarding the other students in the program." Hunk placed a hand on his chin. "Or maybe it would have caused more problems. Maybe that's why Shiro didn't say anything."
Elena let out a sigh, turning back to Keith's twin. "Ryo, this is Hunk. He was selected for Voltron apparently because of his kind heart."
"Yeah, um. You suspected they were related."
"Well, I suggested it to Lance when we first started because it did explain some of the stuff Shiro does for Keith he doesn't do for other cadets, but he was like, nope on that one. Keith's also rather shy, so I don't see how he'd trust someone who wasn't family. That's just the way he is."
"I see." Ryo glanced away, making Elena wonder if he was thinking about how he was family, yet gave Keith every reason to trust him. "Well, I can't go into specifics. Takashi would be furious with me."
"Yeah. Well, since we know, what were you going to say earlier? It was about family, right?"
"You mean the fact everyone in our small village back in Japan trains in martial arts."
"Oh – so your family is a ninja family."
"A samurai family, but yeah – there are some ninja."
If this was before the whole aliens showing up to attack earth Elena would have thought Ryo was trying to pull their legs, particularly with how he treated Keith, yet he seemed quite sincere about this. "So you want to go..."
"To kill whoever's hurt my..." Ryo paused, turning his head so he might look at the doorway.
Elena took a deep breath, recognizing James Griffin standing in the doorway. She stood up, walking over with her hands clenched. "Go away."
"Now really isn't the time."
"I just want to talk to Keith."
"Keith's not here."
"Um, I'm sure..."
Elena looked over at Ryo, noting that the two did look a lot alike, although she was sure Ryo's hair was shorter if not better kept. She turned back. "Please, just leave."
James let out a sound which indicated he wasn't pleased, yet he turned and left willingly. Ryo looked up at her. "Who was that?"
Elena turned and looked at Ryo. "Honestly, I don't know."
Hunk twiddled his fingers, looking at his hands. "Not someone who's been nice to Keith in the past. He is acting weird though ever since he learned Keith lives with Shiro."
"Wait. You mentioned this earlier," Ryo said.
"Well, the whole school knows no thanks to my cousin, Lance."
Chapter 19: Hurry
How Hunk found out was definitely not the way Shiro wanted him to find out about Keith having a twin. He pinched the bridge of his nose, mentally cursing the fact both of his younger brothers were stubborn to a point they were starting to drive him insane, if he weren't already there, yet undeniably he loved them both. Of course, the fact Allura knew things was also causing him quite a bit of mental strain. Still, Allura was how he'd find Keith given whatever danger he was in.
He felt guilty for not having realized sooner.
"You know, the only reason the princess and I are accompanying you is because she's the way we're going to be able to find number four."
"He's the fourth tallest paladin."
"How about you refer to us by our colors?" Shiro found the man strange in a way he wasn't yet sure about. Mentally, he noted they were heading to a part of the garrison closed for minor repairs – a storage area, but finally, Allura pointed.
"There. Keith's in there."
She pointed towards a window, yet he wasn't sure if she meant the room, or in that direction. He walked over, wondering how he'd get a look through the window up high. He stood there, contemplating this issue when he heard something moving across the ground and Matt telling him to watch out. Glancing up, he jumped out of the way just as Allura pushed one of the large metal dumpsters hit the wall, creating a resounding smash. "Allura!"
"Whoever's inside could have heard." Yet, looking up he knew he wanted to get a look inside. Taking a deep breath, he jumped up on top before slowly lifting himself up so he might peer into the window, hoping whoever was inside hadn't noticed him. Worse, he found himself afraid of what might happen to Keith. They'd lost Keith once before and he honestly didn't want to go through that again, let alone something happening to Ryo.
What he saw – Shiro's eyebrows rose up, seeing the purple alien creature on garrison's property, which made his throat tighten. He also noticed two chairs with cadets tied to them, one of them – how Lance ended up involved in the whole matter he honestly didn't want to know, but Keith's chair was on the floor for some reason, yet something didn't feel right. He watched the Galra head towards the door of the storage room he was keeping Keith and Lance in.
Hopping down, he turned to Matt. "There's a Galra in there."
"Galra?" Allura's eyes widened. "How?"
"That's something I would like to know, but I'm going after him."
"But none of you have your paladin weapons."
"Our..." Shiro shook his head. "Look, we can talk about that later, alright? Right now I need to get Keith and Lance out of there."
"Wait. Who is this Lance person? I don't believe he is one of the paladins, so is it important that we rescue him?"
Shiro smiled at Coran, wishing the princess's advisor hadn't said such a thing that he found himself wondering due to how Lance treated Keith, yet he brushed such childish thoughts aside. "Now, now. What kind of paladins would we be if we didn't help those in need."
"Well, that is true." Coran stood up straight. "That was simply a test paladin."
"Um, sure." Shiro turned, digging through the dumpster for something he might break the window with.
"We're not going in the front entrance?"
"Oh. Is that another test Coran?"
"Of course paladin number one."
One of Shiro's eyebrows shot up, wondering where Coran got the idea of numbers from, let alone how he ended up numbing them off. He smashed the window with the construction material, his mind jumping to the paperwork this would involve, his mind worried regarding how this incident would look for Keith; after all, the principle for the garrison's school looked for anything they could use against Keith. He watched the glass shatter on the ground, before sliding in the window, but not before giving the order to stay there unless they needed to hide.
He landed on the ground, but now he had a better look at what was going on. In particular, he took in the slash across Keith's shoulder. "Keith, buddy. What..."
"Yeah, you're bleeding." The sound of Lance muttering into his gag made Shiro look up at Lance, who seemed like he wanted to say something and for some reason, he thought it a good idea to remove the gag.
"This is Keith's fault!" Which resulted in the gag being put back in – almost. Shiro knew Lance would antagonize Keith even more if he did that. He did focus on untying Keith, which brought a complaint from Lance's mouth just as Matt, Allura, and Coran came in through the window.
"Hey. I thought I told you to stay outside."
"Oh. Princess Allura."
Shiro watched the princess' facial features contort with disgust regarding what Lance said. "You said unless we needed to hide."
"Yeah, but I didn't mean..." He watched both Allura and Matt point at Coran. "... in here." Taking a deep breath, he helped Keith sit up, noting he didn't look too good, liking from the amount of blood lost.
"Someone untie me already." Lance's comment made Matt let out a sigh before the older cadet stepped over and started untying the ropes which kept Lance tied to the chair.
"How exactly are we going to take on a Galra? They're rather strong."
Shiro took a deep breath, looking at the chair Keith was once tied to while Allura and Coran pulled him towards the wall so he could sit up, his head darting up when he saw the door start opening. Quickly, he picked up the chair as the Galra stepped in, swinging it right at the creature's head. It broke into quite a few pieces with a resounding crack. He then balled up his fist, punching the creature who hurt Keith. When the creature attempted to bring their weapon about, Shiro instinctively used said weapon against the Galra by pummeling the weapon into the creature's body.
He now lay on the ground, unconscious, yet Shiro wasn't sure how he'd managed that, given the Galra did seem a bit stronger. Lance's eyes widened. "That was awesome."
Shiro turned his head to Matt. "Do you think you can contact garrison security and get him tied up.
"Definity can. I'll use both ropes just in case, but they should be here in minutes."
"Good, because I'm getting Keith to the garrison infirmary."
"Wouldn't it be quicker if a vehicle took him? I mean, it took us quite a bit of time to walk there."
"That." Shiro's eyes closed. "I'll go ahead and call it in."
He hoped they would hurry.
Chapter 20: Lesson Learned
When he told Shiro he was alright, he really wasn't. In fact, he barely registered the presence of others in the room until he heard Allura ask him if he were alright, but how he'd come to have the injury on his shoulder. He heard Lance's voice, possibly spinning his own tale regarding what happened, potentially paining him as the hero. After a bit, he said, "He was going to kill Lance."
Lance went off, which didn't surprise him, yet after that – he didn't remember anything as he finally passed out. After all, Shiro showed up and dealt with the Galra just like he'd warned the Galra he would. The next thing he knew, he awoke in a bed in the infirmary, his eyes darting around the room as he attempted figuring out what was going on. He sat up, wondering where Shiro was when he saw James Griffin. "What – what do you want Griffin?"
"Whatever's going on between you and Shiro's got to stop."
Keith stared at the other boy, his mind struggling to comprehend what James was saying. "Where is he?"
"You can't see him."
"Technically, they're not letting anyone see you yet."
"Then why are you in here?"
"I figured now would be a good time to speak to you privately, so I snuck in."
"Well, I don't want to talk to you. Kind of not feeling that great."
"So I heard, though the details are vague beyond the fact I do know it wasn't Shiro who did this. Which is a pity."
"Oh, so you want Shiro to kill me? You're..."
"If it had been Shiro then maybe the adults would take me seriously."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"The fact Shiro is hurting you."
"Wh..." Keith's eyes narrowed. "Shiro's not hurting me."
"Why does he keep you around? It's not normal for someone to take in a kid they don't know, but nobodies heard him..." James took a deep breath.
"I told you. Shiro's not..."
"If you don't have anywhere to go, you can stay in my dorm room. I currently don't have a dorm mate, but if we talk to..."
"Seriously! My older brother isn't abusing you."
"So, stop saying he is, and get lost!"
"Shiro is your older brother?"
"I..." Keith's mouth clamped shut. "I'm not supposed to tell people that."
"Why wouldn't you be allowed to? That – are you sure he's not manipulating you?"
"I – Shiro wouldn't do that. I'm not supposed to tell people so people don't take advantage of me because he's my older brother."
One of James's eyebrows shot up, his arms crossing. "You do..."
"And someone who's my friend wouldn't accuse Shiro of hurting me!"
"So, then, the reason he took you in – it had nothing to do with him being, well..." James let out a sigh, looking up at the ceiling. "Well, it's good to know he isn't abusing you."
"What have you done this time?"
Keith's eyes blinked, a smile spreading across his face. "Oh, good. It's you, Ryo. You're also glaring at me, so can I assume you're going to treat me like you usually do and things can go back to normal."
"Can you actually get it through that thick skull of yours that I do care, but that I'm trying not to act like a complete jerk towards you anymore?"
"I, um..." James stared at Ryo while Keith's eyes blinked. He pointed his finger. "Who is he? Why does he look like you?"
Keith's eyes blinked, then he said. "Shouldn't it be why do I look like him given that he's older."
"No, you're older, but in case you haven't figured out, I'm Akira's twin."
"Don't call me that."
"It's your name."
"It is not."
"It is too."
"And why are you telling him that? He's not a friend of mine, and I don't want him to know because he's not a friend."
"You just told him Takashi is our older brother."
Keith's eyes blinked. "Wait. I did, didn't I." He pointed a finger at James. "You tricked me!"
"I did not. What's wrong..."
"He's always like this when he isn't feeling well, but I promise – Takashi-nii's not abusing him, but the only visitors he's supposed to have right now are family. Since Takashi is being sedated because this one freaked him out with his injuries, that leaves me, so could you please leave."
"Yeah. See you in class once they clear you."
"I don't want to see him." Keith glared after James.
"Yeah – I think he really was concerned for you."
"Because I was attacked by a Galra? What happened to that Galra?"
"How should I know? I don't have that kind of security."
"What do you mean you don't have the security to know why he's..."
"About what happened to the Galra. As for why he's concerned, if you actually told people Takashi was your older brother they wouldn't think something hinky were going on under people's noses, but from what I hear, everybody now knows you live with him, so you can't continue not telling people we're related. It causes trouble for Takashi, but he's majorly stressed out."
"He's still not grieved for Adam yet, but..." Ryo let out a deep breath, walking over to sit down next to Keith. "Look, this might be the best time since you're kind of out of it – you might not even remember the conversation, but you've not let yourself grieve either."
"I..." Keith swallowed. "I don't' know how to feel."
"Give yourself time." Ryo moved in closer, making Keith realize he was purposefully sitting on the uninjured side. "I met Allura."
"Oh. She's... I don't know how I feel regarding her either."
"Again, give yourself time." Ryo swallowed. "And – I guess Takashi-nii was right about me giving you time to come and trust me, so I'll try to be patient. Don't scare me like this again."
"Why were you scared?"
"Because you're my twin and I knew something was wrong. Don't know how to explain it." Ryo took a deep breath. "In the meantime, you should get some sleep. I've asked for some time off from – well, everything, so I'm staying here."
"You don't have to."
"I'm not doing it to be nice. I'm doing it to make sure you don't get up out of bed before your injuries are healed enough. But, I'm glad you're not dead. Takashi as well, but I want to be a family. That's what all of this taught me."
"That's – I think that's a nice thought."