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Little Did He Know

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“Take cover!”

Shiro threw himself into the trench and under a slab of metal. Bombs exploded overhead. Soldiers barked orders at each other. Civilians screamed and ran for cover. The battlefield reeked of decay and bodily fluids behind the gas mask he wore. Shiro silently prayed to whatever God could hear him that he’d live to see another day; despite a part of him wishing he wouldn’t.

“Get up!” Someone grabbed him by the shoulder. “Move!”

Shiro scrambled to his feet, his weapon loaded and ready to fire at the enemy.

“Matt–” He panted. “I–”

“Four o’clock!”

Shiro turned and shot an enemy soldier in the head. Then prepared to open fire at the rest who followed.

“I’ve got you on your six. Let’s kill these bastards.”

Shiro saw something fly towards Matt.

“Look out!” He pushed Matt into the dirt.

Shiro screamed as something pierced him in the arm. Then everything faded to black.

 

It had been six months since Shiro moved to America, and he still had nightmares about the war. He didn’t think they’d ever go away. But today was not the day to focus on the past; today, he would start looking towards the future.

Classification was an important event in everyone's life. It would be an understatement if he said he was nervous. Shiro was twenty two and had never been classified. To be fair, there was never any time. But still, he felt as though apart of him was missing. Like there was a hole deep inside him that longed to be filled. So, he decided that it was finally time for him to take the test.

He now sat patiently in the waiting area, fidgeting his leg. He had filled out his general information and all that was left was to wait until he was called to the back for testing. The room was a light beige with cushioned chairs and couches lined up against the walls. A corner of the room was dedicated as a play place for Littles. An assortment of toys ranging from rattles to robots could be seen through opaque plastic containers.

“Colonel Takashi Shirogane?” An older gentleman called.

“That’s me.” Shiro walked towards him. “And please, call me Shiro.”

“Hello Shiro. I am Ulaz, and I’ll be proctoring your test today. Follow me.” Shiro followed Ulaz down a series of hallways and into one of the exam rooms. Shiro stood at the doorway awaiting instruction. “At ease, soldier.” He motioned for Shiro to relax. “Please, have a seat.”

Shiro sat down across from him, anxiously tapping his non-prosthetic fingers against the table. “So, what do I need to do?”

“The test is easy. First, I’ll hand you this paper and you can start the written part. Just answer honestly and when you’re done I’ll run your answers through the computer. Once I get your score, I’ll draw some blood and give you your results. We’ll go from there.” Ulaz handed him the test and a pencil. “Begin whenever you’re ready.”

Shiro soon began writing in his answers. Ulaz was right. The written part of the test was simple. He finished after a few hours and was rewarded with a package of graham crackers and a bottle of water. Shiro strongly suspected that he would come out as a Neutral. Most people already assumed that he was one. This may have been mostly because of his military service; but despite what many people believed, Neutrals weren’t the only people that made up the military. There were plenty of Caregivers who served and even some Littles who held administrative jobs and minor ranks. Shiro had known many of them, and even considered them friends. One in particular was Matthew Holt. He was a Captain under Shiro and one of his closest friend. Matt was a Caregiver who had also recently come home. They still kept in contact. Shiro had even gotten the chance to meet his sister Katie, who was a Little. She was intelligent and clever whether in headspace or out, and always curious about everything.

Shiro turned at the sound of a light knock on the door. Ulaz entered the room followed by another man.

“Shiro, this is Thace. He’ll be taking your blood. Then after that I’ll explain your results. Is that alright?”

“Sure.”

Thace pulled up a stool and began searching for a vein in Shiro’s arm. He quickly found one and began to draw blood. Thace filled up two vials before sticking a band-aid on Shiro’s arm and leaving him with a gentle pat on the shoulder.

“Now, after reviewing your results, your score highly suggests that you’re a Little. And because you’ve been classified so late, we’re afraid you may be prone to an Involuntary Regression. This is a normal thing when Littles don’t regress for a long time. So we’re going to give you some medicine that will help you to regress and fight off any oncoming symptoms. After we give it to you, the symptoms should last no more than a week, but you may be in your headspace for longer than that.”

“Are you positive?” Shiro asked. It was all so much for him to take in. “I was so sure I would be a Neutral.”

“We’re sure.” Ulaz pulled out a small cup and filled it halfway with a translucent, brown liquid. “Now, once you take your medicine, I’m going to take you into our playroom to get settled. We’re also going to evaluate your little age and let your emergency contact know about everything that’s going on. We’ll make sure you go home with a caregiver and set them up with everything you’ll need. How does that sound?” Ulaz smiled.

Shiro hesitated, slouching back in his chair. “Okay.”

“Good.” Ulaz handed him the tiny cup and waited.

Shiro eyed the medicine as if it had insulted him. Which in his opinion, it had. There was no way he could possibly be a Little. But the tests don’t lie. So he swallowed his pride and the medicine down with it. Shiro gagged at the foul taste.

“Good job. I know that was hard. Would you like to go to the playroom now?” Shiro nodded.

Ulaz led him across the hall into the playroom. The walls were painted with fairytale characters and cutsey woodland creatures. “Go on and pick out some toys. You can choose anything you want and take it home with you. I’ll be right back, okay?” He looked at Ulaz and nodded. Ulaz let go of his hand as he shuffled into the playroom.

He sat down next to a toy chest and began sorting through the array of stuffed animals. He thought this was stupid. He didn’t need toys, but decided to humor Ulaz anyway. Shiro pulled out a fluffy black kitten. She was weighted, and just the right amount of stuffed. He smiled. The kitten reminded Shiro of his own pet cat before the war, Kuro. Except Kuro had patches of gray on her. He hugged the cat to his chest, inhaling her sweet scent. Shiro decided that taking a few more toys wouldn’t hurt. He dug through bins and chests and found a rainbow teething ring and a miniature rainstick. He also found a soft lavender blanket with a.shiny silver trimming. Shiro could feel his head starting to become fuzzy, like someone had wrapped him in a warm blanket. He grinned. It felt nice. He felt relaxed. And free, in a sense.

Shiro crawled across the room and began to explore. There was so much to do. He flopped down onto one of the play gyms and batted his hand at the dangling rattles. Shiro giggled at the sounds each one made. He reached over and stuck the teether in his mouth, gnawing on it contently. He coughed a little at the tickle in his throat, then continued to play. A few minutes passed, and Shiro suddenly began to feel hot, and itchy. He scratched at his skin as hard as he could to make the itch go away, but it only got worse.

Shiro grunted and rolled over onto his belly. This was not good. He was supposed to be a big boy! Teardrops and snot streamed down his face. Shiro experimentally kicked his legs, and felt something warm and sticky start to spread from his crotch. A small whimper escaped from Shiro’s wobbly lips as he couldn’t help from filling his pants. Shiro sucked in a breath and started to loudly wail. Fat tears rolled down his cheek as he pressed his face into the floor.

“Hey, what happened here?”  Ulaz knelt down next to him. “What’s wrong?”

Shiro ignored him in favor of continuing his tantrum. He shook his head and struggled to roll onto his back.“Oh, did someone have an accident?” Shiro howled. Ulaz lifted Shiro from the play gym and carried him over to the changing table. “It’s okay, little one. Let’s get you cleaned up, yeah?”

Shiro squirmed his legs and bawled as Ulaz stripped the dirty clothes off of him. The man murmured soft words of comfort and praise to him. “I know, baby.” He shushed, cleaning the boy’s mess with some wet wipes and a tube of diaper rash cream. “We’re almost done.”

Shiro continued to cry as Ulaz unfolded the diaper and slid it underneath his hips. He powdered his thighs and privates before taping the diaper closed. “There we go, all nice and clean.” Ulaz patted the boy’s belly. “Now let’s get you dressed so you can go home. Someone special is here to pick you up.”

Shiro’s cries slowly subsided and became quiet, distressed whimpers. Ulaz hummed a lullaby as he maneuvered Shiro’s limbs into a yellow snap crotch onesie and a pair of sweatpants.

“Did you pick out some toys?” Shiro nodded and showed them to Ulaz. “Good job! And is that your blankie?” Shiro nodded again.

Ulaz gently coaxed the toys from Shiro’s hands and placed them in a diaper bag. He pulled it over his shoulder and lifted Shiro from the table. Ulaz wrapped the blanket around him and pressed a pacifier to the baby’s lips before carrying him down the hall. The two entered the brightly lit waiting room. Shiro whined and rubbed his eyes.

“Mister Holt?”

Matt quickly walked towards Ulaz and Shiro. “How is he?”

“He’s okay, just a bit fussy.” Ulaz bounced the sniveling boy in his arms. “He’s had a long day and I’m sure he’ll need a nap soon.”

“Aw, poor baby.” Ulaz handed Matt the baby and his bag. Shiro whimpered and curled into Matt’s chest. “Hey, buddy. Ready to go home now?” Shiro whimpered and nuzzled into his neck. Matt cooed. “What do you think his age range is?”

“I wouldn’t put him any older than twelve months. Do you have a cot for him?”

“I have a bassinet. That should work.”

“Good. And I assume you’ve been informed that he’s having an Involuntary Regression?“

“Yes. And his symptoms will be flu-like, correct?”

Ula nodded. “Once he comes out of his headspace please let us know. We’ll have to set him up with a permanent caregiver soon.”

“Of course. Thank you for calling me.”

Ulaz smirked. “Well, I won’t keep you any longer then. It seems you have another Little who needs your attention.”

Matt turned around and saw Katie climbing on top of one of the chairs. “Katie Holt, you get down from there this instant.” He said firmly.

She jumped down and ran to her brother’s side. “Are we going home yet?”

“Yes. Can you hold my hand please?”

Katie obeyed and followed Matt through the parking lot. She swung his arm back and forth with her own.

“Is that the baby?”

“Yup, this is Shiro.”

“Why’s he sad?”

“He’s not feeling well.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s having an Involuntary Regression.”

“Can I play with him when he feels better?”

Matt sighed and unlocked the car. He opened the door and secured Shiro into a car seat. “I don’t know if he’ll want to play just yet.” Shiro mewled and pitifully reached out to be held again. Matt jiggled his leg and shushed him before helping Katie into her booster seat.

“Why?”

“Because I don’t know.”

“Why?”

“How about we go and get McDonald’s on the way home?” Matt changed the subject.

“Yes please!” Katie cheered.

Matt sat in the front seat and adjusted his rearview mirror. “Are we ready?”

“Yeah.” She nodded.

“Okay then, let’s hit the road.”

Chapter Text

Shiro had eventually fallen asleep on the drive home while Katie quietly ate her food and played on her tablet. He was still coughing every now and again, but asleep nonetheless. Matt was more than happy to enjoy the silence. He knew it would be very rare now that there was a baby in the house. A light flurry of snow rained down on the suburban roads. Matt had switched on the heat and started the windshield wipers at every stoplight.

“Maa-att!”

“Yeah, Pidge?”

“The baby stinks.” She scrunched her nose.

“I know. We’re almost home.”

Katie shoved another handful of french fries into her mouth. “Where’s he gonna sleep?”

“I’m gonna let him sleep in my room for the first few nights, then I’ll move him into the playroom.”

“But that’s my playroom!” She stamped her foot.

“Katie, we talked about this.” Matt turned the corner into their neighborhood. “You’re gonna have to share for a while until Shiro finds his own caregiver. It won’t be for long, I promise. Just until New Year’s.”

She pouted. “Pinky swear?”

Matt reached back and locked his pinky finger into hers. “Pinky swear.”

He parked the car in the driveway and helped Katie out of her seat before getting Shiro and his things. He was a bit taller than Matt, but Caregivers had a tendency to be stronger than average; especially around Littles. Whenever a Little was around, their hormones reacted by giving their body enough energy to provide for themselves and the Little. Many caregivers had the ability to lactate after bonding with their Little; some of them male, even.

Shiro’s eyes fluttered open. He mewled and clung to Matt. “It’s okay, we’re just going inside now.” Matt pulled out his keys and unlocked the door with one hand. He pushed it open with his foot and let go of Katie’s hand. “Why don’t you go and play while I get Shiro settled in.”

“Okay!” She ran up the stairs and disappeared into her room.

“Alright, buddy. Let’s get your diaper changed and then I’ll make you a bottle. How does that sound?” Shiro whimpered, clearly too sick and too tired to care.

Matt put out a changing pad and made quick work of removing the wet diaper in exchange for a clean one. Shiro started scratching his chest and cried when the prickly feeling only increased.

“Hey now, none of that.” Matt dug through the diaper bag and pulled out a pair of soft scratcher mittens. “This will help keep you from itching.” He pulled the mitts around the boy’s hands and tightened them shut. “I’ll give you some medicine with your bottle. That should help you fall asleep too.” He rubbed the boy’s belly and cooed.

Matt dressed Shiro into a red footed sleeper then set him up in a playpen near the kitchen. He handed over his toys and left to prepare Shiro a bottle. The baby yawned. He flopped onto his back and examined the mittens on his hands. He rubbed them against his neck and whined. Shiro looked around the room, searching for a familiar face. He wailed, reaching out to be held. Matt quickly returned, bottle in hand, and lifted Shiro into his arms.

“It’s okay, Takashi. I was just in the other room.” He bobbed his legs. Shiro nuzzled his face into Matt’s neck and sobbed. “I’m not going anywhere, baby.” He kissed the boy’s tear stained cheek. Matt readjusted Shiro so that he was cradling him and showed him the bottle. He brought the tip to Shiro’s lips and  squeezed it just enough so he could taste the milk. Shiro latched on and slowly started to suckle, still whimpering a bit. Matt paced around the room and swayed his hips. Once the boy was finished, Matt set him down in the bassinet and left him to take a nap.

~

The next five days were a blur. Matt had eventually realized that putting Shiro in the playroom was not a good idea. Katie would disrupt him during his naps to play, and he would always wake up cranky and confused. And if it wasn’t that, Shiro would simply cry if he woke up alone. In the end, it was better for everyone if the baby slept in Matt’s room.

The medicine seemed to be helping with his symptoms, but that didn’t mean Shiro was a happy camper. He had absolutely no energy to play or have fun, which left Matt increasingly frustrated; not at Shiro, but the awful circumstances that had led to this. And Katie wasn’t used to Matt splitting her attention between her and another Little, so she started acting out and misbehaving. She would hit him and throw things, she would even make Shiro cry by being rough with him or scaring him.

Today was peaceful, which Matt was extremely thankful for. Shiro had just been fed and was taking a nap, while Katie was playing in her room. Matt was lightly sleeping on the couch when he woke up to his phone buzzing. He pulled it out of his pocket and found that he had received several text messages from the group chat with his other Caregiver friends.

 

Lance: Are we still meeting up for the playdate today? We can move it to my house if we need to.

Allura: Or mine. I will need to clean up a bit beforehand though.

Shay: Wait, why can’t we just go to Matt’s house?

Allura: He’s fostering a new Little. His name is Shiro.

Shay: Oh, okay. So are we cancelling?

Lance: I hope not. Keith has been cooped up for too long. Also, I miss my niece and nephews!

 

Matt began to type.

 

Matt: We’re still on for today. Just text me when you get here, though. I just put Shiro down for a nap and so far he’s been pretty fussy. I’m really not used to having a baby in the house.

 

Several people began to respond.

 

Allura: Will do! I know how cranky Lotor can get if he’s woken up mid-nap and it is not fun.

Shay: Of course! Hunk and I are on our way!

Lance: Yeah, sure. I’m on snack duty this week, so any requests?

Shay: Hunk says he wants gingerbread.

Allura: Chocolate milk please! And some soft cookies.

 

Matt smiled, then put his phone away. He went up the stairs and knocked on Katie’s door. “Ten minute warning. Clean your room now please.”

Katie opened her door. “Is everyone coming?”

“Yes. Keith and Uncle Lance, Auntie Allura and Lotor, and Hunk and Auntie Shay.”

“Is Uncle Adam coming too?”

Matt smiled. “I’ll text him and see, Pidge.”

Katie nodded and quickly began to tidy up her bedroom.

Matt went down the stairs and got out his phone. They hadn’t seen or heard from Adam for a few weeks. He was still reeling after another attempt to adopt a Little went badly. People assumed because Adam was still an active military member, he wouldn’t have time to take care of a Little; or that he might get injured or even killed if he were deployed. Matt knew that wasn’t true. Adam was more than content working at the nearby base, but he was only training recruits; meaning that he would most likely not be deployed anywhere else.

 

Matt: Hey, we’ve missed you at our weekly play dates. You should come over. The other CGs and I have been planning for Christmas. We still need to know what you want/what you can get for the Littles.

 

It took several minutes for him to receive a reply.

 

Adam: I’ll be over in five.

 

Matt soon welcomed in the others. He hugged Lance and helped him bring in the snacks. Pidge was quick to come down and tackle Keith with a bear hug. The two giggled on the floor before scrambling into the playroom. Soon Allura came carrying Lotor and his things. She set him down and encouraged him to go play with the others. He was hesitant, then nodded and toddled off after the other Littles. After that, Hunk and Shay came. Matt barely had any time to greet him before he darted to the playroom to be with the other Littles. He and Shay laughed about it, then he invited her inside.

Allura set down her cup on the coffee table. “So how old is Shiro?”

“Well, he’s twenty two biologically. But the people at the Testing Agency said that he regresses somewhere under twelve months.”

The room fell silent.

“Is this his first time regressing?” Shay asked.

“Yeah. He and I fought in Japan together, and he turned sixteen just after the war started. I guess he never got around to his classification.”

“That’s,” Lance spoke up. “A long time to not regress. Is he having an Involuntary Regression?”

“Yeah. They said that his symptoms should be gone in a week, but he might be regressed for awhile after.”

Lance rested a hand on Matt’s shoulder. “Let us know if you need anything.” The others nodded in agreement.

The doorbell rang, followed by a flurry of footsteps running towards the door. Matt got up and beat the Littles to answering it. He opened the door and welcomed the man in.

“Uncle Adam!” The Littles cheered, clinging to him on various limbs.

Adam laughed. “Hey! Let’s see who we have here.” He looked around. “Well, we’ve got Katie. And Keith. Hunk, and–” Adam looked over at Lotor, who stood shyly at a distance, and smiled. “Lotor, come here!” The Little grinned and ran to hug him.

“It’s good to see you, Adam.” Allura smiled, walking up from behind.

“Good to see you guys too.” He chuckled. “Alright kiddos, let me through.” Adam shook the Littles off of him, causing them all to giggle and run back to the playroom. He sighed, then hugged Matt.

“See? I told you everyone missed you.” Matt suddenly stiffened at the sound of crying. “Crap, I totally forgot to tell you. Give me a minute.” He rushed into the bedroom

“Wait, tell me what?” Adam followed behind him.

Matt opened the door to his bedroom and quickly went to console Shiro. He shrieked, kicking his legs and flailing.

“Oh, baby.” He cooed, lifting Shiro into his arms. “Is someone cranky?” Matt began to pace around the room, gently bobbing his legs and shushing the boy. Shiro squirmed and cried against Matt’s grip, attempting to break free.

“He needs to be relieved.”

“What?” Matt turned, seeing Adam standing in the doorway

He sighed. “Lay him flat on the bed. I’ll show you.”

Matt did as he was told, earning another loud screech from the baby. Adam rolled up his sleeves and gently began to massage his stomach with his index and middle finger. He hummed softly as he worked on Shiro’s hardened belly. Shiro grunted, then relaxed as his bowels emptied. His screams soon became little wet huffs and whimpers.

“There we go,” Adam smiled softly. “Isn’t that better?” Shiro looked up at him and gurgled.

“How did you know to do that?”

“Well, I could tell that he looked uncomfortable, and was squirming an awful lot. It was simply an educated guess.”

“I should get him changed.”

“Let me help you.” Adam said, already getting out supplies.

Matt smiled. He noticed how much Adam fawned over Shiro. It was no secret that he prefered Little’s who regressed as babies. Adam lifted Shiro into the air and blew a zerbet on his bare belly. Shiro squealed with laughter and writhed as Adam continued to tickle him. He was soon dressed and brought out to meet the others. He clung to Adam and giggled.

“I think we’ve found a match.” Allura whispered into Matt’s ear.

“I think so too.” He smiled.