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A World for You and Me

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: None
Notes: I may add more to this later (see the notes at the end of the fic as well, please)

--

The apartment is small, the roof leaks, and there's a stain on the rug that looks a little too much like blood for Keith's liking. But it's also cheap, roach-free, and allows dogs, so he and Kosmo moved in as soon as they could.

Apartment problems aside, it's really not a bad place to live. It's better than the orphanage, and it's better than crashing on his boss's couch (although Keith is gonna miss the meals Hunk made--thankfully, he always brings his experiments to the auto shop). And while Kosmo is still trying to figure out how a big dog can get comfortable in their cubby hole of a living space, the dog park is a ten minute walk away from their place. Keith makes it a habit to take Kosmo out to the park twice a day. They go first thing in the morning, then an evening stroll after work. Kosmo was feral before Keith chased off a bigger dog, then begged Hunk to let him keep Kosmo at his place until he found an apartment, so the fresh air and space to explore makes his day. It's not too long that he's getting excited when it's time to go.

In fact, Kosmo is weaving between Keith's legs, whining to go already, not really caring that Keith had about four hours of sleep last night (between Hunk's girlfriend Shay getting grief from her landlord and a string of borderline abusive customers, the stress followed him home) and is fumbling wit h his house keys. "I know," he tries not to snap as Kosmo whines again. "But I'm not leaving until the door is locked. This place is a dump, but it's our dump." It really is--this is Keith's first real apartment, and it ain't perfect, but he's gonna protect it--

"Kosmo!" His usually well-behaved dog has scampered off to investigate a shadow in the hallway--except now that Keith is giving the shadow a look over rather than a cursory glance out of the corner of his eye, he sees that the "shadow" is a man--probably one of the many neighbors Keith has seen, but not met yet.

... Then again, he would have noticed if he had seen a man that tall wandering the apartment hallways and parking lot. Or with eyes that sad.

Aw geez, Kosmo's barking playfully at the sad-eyed man, trying his best to make friends. "Kosmo, down!" So, of course, Kosmo bounces around the man. "I am so sorry," Keith breathes as he dashed down the hallway to retrieve his dog. "He's wanting to play, that's all, I got him--"

"It's okay." The man's voice is deep, but soft, with an underlying warmth Keith doesn't hear from most non-Hunk people. The man reaches down, and Keith sees a flash of metal (a prosthetic hand, he realized) as he pets Kosmo. Kosmo barks with joy--and then gives Keith a haughty glare.

The traitor.

"I should be the one apologizing," the man murmurs, ghosting a smile as he pushes inky black (save for the snow white bangs) hair away just enough to look at Keith properly. He is beautiful, Keith is suddenly very aware of--the kind of beautiful that was equal parts vulnerable, and Keith has to remember to breathe when the man's smile became mischievous. "I'm the one who drove your dog to a life of crime after all."

"Kosmo's always been a rebel," Keith huffs as he snapped the leash on Kosmo's collar. "I'm really sorry--" Thank God, his name's on what looks like a frayed pilot's jacket. "I'm sorry, Mr. Shirogane. He won't bother you again."

"Please. Kosmo here is the first friendly greeting I've had in a long time." Mr. Shirogane smiles down at Kosmo, warm and gentle like the morning sun Kosmo had been itching to experience. "I think at this point, you can call me Shiro."

"Okay, Shiro." Shiro. A nickname. Keith wonders what his first name is, but that would be rude to ask.

It doesn't help that Shiro has also vanished.

"... You think we met a ghost, Kosmo?" Keith says more to himself than his dog as he finally locks his blasted front door so he can take his blasted dog for a blasted walk. "I think we met a ghost."

A beautiful, gentle ghost.

Keith does some thinking while Kosmo sniffs the park dirt. Most people don't wake up this early unless they have to--which means Shiro probably keeps similar hours. Keith would assume that he was going jogging, but you don't go jogging in a shabby jacket and jeans, with you hair hiding your face instead of pulling it back. He must be running an errand, or off to work.

If it's the latter, he might run into Keith again.

Keith hopes so.

--

Notes: Shiro is not a ghost. ;P

Also, hi, it's been awhile since I've written (for me). Life got pretty bad, and it's gotten much worse over the weekend. Like, life-changing level worse. But I'm at a point where I kinda need to build a world where everything works out, so have this modern life AU? Also: while I do want to add more to this verse, I'm gonna write in past tense next time, because every time I try present tense (1) it feels forced and (2) I wind up shifting to past tense halfway through. I'm tired of having to fix all my tenses. :/

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last fic. I'm actually in a worse place than I was when I took my haitus lol, but I'm working on it.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: None
Notes: As I mentioned, I switched to past tense (just pretend that the first part is epilogue and I used present tense for artistic reasons) because that's what I'm used to writing. (PS, this is a slow burn fic, can you tell ;P)

--

Keith didn't speak to Shiro after their first meeting, but he caught glimpses of him. He'd wave at Shiro in the morning, and on rare occasions in the evening, he'd see Shiro shuffling upstairs to what Keith guessed with his own place. He would try to say hi (and wow, it was weird to be the one to want to start a conversation for a change), but Shiro would give him a watery grin, then disappear before Keith could even open his mouth.

It was frustrating, because Keith had been in that place not to long ago. Just wanting to hide from everyone and everything. He didn't expect to magically save Shiro, but he also knew what a relief it was to have just one friendly face. He just... he just wanted...

But he wasn't going to push Shiro.

A rainy winter day tested him, however.

It was one of those times when Kieth was heading out, and Shiro was heading in. Keith shifted his umbrella to his left hand so he could wave. Shiro... hunched over, and shuffled as fast as he could, except that was definitely a limp, he was soaked to the bone, and Keith couldn't just stand there.

"Shiro, are you okay--"

"I'm fine," Shiro spat out, and the venomous tone coming from someone so gentle was enough to make Keith stop. But he didn't leave.

Kosmo, however, was undeterred, trotting up to Shiro, sniffing his drenched right leg. Keith was about to call Kosmo back because Shiro clearly wasn't in the mood, but then Shiro patted Kosmo's snout awkwardly.

"Sorry, boy," Shiro murmured, white bangs hiding his eyes. "All the rain is making my prosthetic act up. The pets might be sub-par."

"My boss has an advanced degree in engineering," Keith blurted out, because this was something he could (probably) help with. He had listened to Hunk gush about cybernetic devices countless, and he was almost certain he had discussed how they could apply to prosthetic limbs at least once. "I, um. I'm not sure what his expertise is, but he could probably at least look it over."

Shiro blinked at him, pushing snowy bangs away with his left hand, peering at Keith shyly. "... Maybe. I don't know." He looked away. "I'm sorry. I appreciate the offer, but I've had so many people poke at me over the years, and well..."

"Right." Keith got that. "Hunk's a good guy. If you change your mind, I'll call him."

Shiro did his best to smile. "Thank you. And I'm sorry about earlier."

"Shiro, I was intruding."

"No, you were trying to help. I..." Shiro took a deep breath. "My walk brought up some bad memories.

Ah. Keith got that, too. "Well, if it doesn't bother you, how 'bout we step into my place really quick and dry you off?"

Shiro frowned, but then Kosmo nudged him. "Is your dog always so bossy?"

"Yes. But don't feel pressured."

"It may not be a bad idea, actually." Shiro's voice laced with guilt. "The cold weather's making my joints hurt as well."

"Great. C'mon, I just need to unlock my door."

--

"I see I've entered the home of a serial killer. Well, I've befriended Kosmo. Perhaps he'll save me from Keith's serial killer tricks."

"It's one knife and one cow skull!" Keith fought the urge to throw Hunk's sweat (thank God Hunk had lent him some old clothes during those lean months). "You've got a real morbid streak, you know that?"

"And proud of it." But at least Shiro was smiling as he disappeared into the bathroom."

"Feel free to use the shower," Keith called out, and sure enough he heard the faucet a moment later. Good--he was glad that Shiro wasn't being too proud.

He wished he could solve what had hurt Shiro this morning, Keith realized as he put some coffee on. But he wouldn't push--he couldn't push. It was clear that Shiro was a private person. If he wanted help, he would ask.

(Keith hoped Shiro would ask.)

"Thanks again for the clothes. I won't stay long, I just need to clean my arm," Shiro called from the bathroom. "It's working okay, but it's a little stiff in the gears. You know, it can usually stand some rain, but it's been pouring and this model is an old one, so I guess between the two it started acting up."

"Hunh." This was probably the longest Shiro had spoken since Keith had met him. He supposed that when you spent so much time alone, having someone to talk to was a change you couldn't help but take advantage of. "Do you need any help?"

"Thanks, but no." Shiro strode into the minuscule room in a beige sweatshirt and grey pants, damp hair clinging to his skull. He gave Keith a look. "No serial killing."

Keith rolled his eyes. "My coffee's not that bad. You can have some, if you want."

"I don't want to burden you further."

"Please, it's the exact opposite." Keith poured himself a mug. "Kosmo and I are still getting used to the new neighborhood. It'd be nice to have a friend nearby."

Shiro sat on the couch, smiling as Kosmo hopped into his lap. "You two are lonely?" There was something strange in his tone as he stroked Kosmo's black fur. "I understand that very well."

Keith wouldn't push. "And 'sides, Kosmo has adopted you."

Shiro laughed. That combined with him looking genuinely comfortable in Keith's apartment, with Kosmo somehow scrunching up enough to fit in Shiro's lap, made his chest tighten.

And maybe there was another reason why he wanted to help Shiro.

But Keith wouldn't push.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith, past Shiro/Adam
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Ableism (from Shiro's former teachers/bosses and Adam), implied depression
Notes: Sorry it took awhile to update. -_-

--

They fell in a friendly but simple rhythm after that day when Keith invited Shiro into his apartment. Shiro was grateful for that. He liked Keith. However, conversations that lasted more than a few minutes were still... difficult for him. But exchanging pleasantries, and commenting on what a handsome boy Kosmo was? That he could do. He wasn't going to pretend Keith was his best friend (surely someone kind like Keith already had a best friend), but it was nice to have a person he was on friendly terms with again.

Which was he was uneasy when one morning, Keith and Kosmo weren't there. That was foolish, he realized. Keith was his own person, and he owed Shiro nothing. Yes, he helped Shiro out one time. Yes, he smiled whenever he saw Shiro. But that was all it was. That was all Shiro was capable of.

Maybe he'd see Keith tomorrow.

--

He didn't see Keith for a week. Then two weeks.

--

By week three, Shiro was used to being alone again, so it was fine.

--

He was halfway through the fourth week when he had a nightmare again. He could never remember the detail beyond a few images and feelings--bright yellow eyes, cold brown eyes, pain so great he was sure he was dying--but it was enough to force him upright, screaming, having to take several second to remember where he was. In his crummy apartment that he never had the energy to clean. Not on a cold table in a hospital room.

Not with his old friends. Not with Adam.

All of that had happened years ago, he told himself as he stood up, too shaky to bother with his prosthetic as he staggered to the bathroom. One-handed, he turned on the faucet, splashed water on his face, then turned it off.

He eyed his reflection wearily. His eyes were shadowed, half-hidden by greasy hair that was more white than he cared to admit. He was a faded image of his past self. No wonder so many people avoided him after the accident.

He. He just.

He had followed his dream. But then he got sick. And all the people who had told him he could do it were suddenly talking about how "flying wasn't for everyone" and "he just didn't fit." It wasn't the illness, they assured him, but he had to understand piloting was so stressful. Not everyone could deal with that kind of stress. And he was struggling.

It wasn't until his flight instructor had emailed him, saying she was so sorry, but she had to rescind her letter of recommendation for a flight to Jupiter (I just don't see you as a good fit for this mission anymore) that he had realized everyone had given up on him.

When Adam kissed him in the car and told him it was for the best, he gave up on himself.

... Maybe that was why he listened to Adam and took Honerva on her offer. She was literally a creepy scientist, but she also offered him the first spark of hope he'd had in years. Shiro had hoped to turn that spark into a warm, steady fire to revive his life, but now...

"Darg," he mock cursed, trying to shake off his darker thoughts. There was no way he was going to sleep again, but he could grab his prosthetic and go for a quick jog--it was one of the few hobbies he could afford with his dwindling savings. It was early, too, so he'd probably have the whole park to himself. He moved to get his arm, and--

And Kosmo was sitting primly on his old couch.

"Must've forgotten to lock the door," Shiro grumbled. He tended to forget stuff when he got into these moods, and this mood had lasted for three days straight. He stilled as Kosmo approached him, sniffing his pajama pockets. "Sorry, boy, I don't have any snacks." He petted Kosmo's head, entranced as always by those bright eyes. He'd never seen a dog with eyes like that before. "Keith must be worried sick." He and Keith weren't friends, but he knew what it was like to miss a pet. And Keith clearly loved Kosmo more than anything. "I'll walk you back to your human's apartment, okay?"

Kosmo eyed him sagely as Shiro finally put on his prosthetic, a grey sweatshirt, and sauntered after Shiro as they headed into the building's hallway.

--

Keith glared down at his dog. "I locked the door."

"I believe you. I guess Kosmo's rebellious teen phase to run away from home overpowered the foolish lock, however. Tragic."

Keith huffed, ushering Kosmo inside. "I'm starting to think he can teleport." He looked up at Shiro, eyes oddly soft. "Thank you. And I'm sorry."

"Kosmo is the first guest I've had in awhile. It was nice," Shiro assured him. "I'm the one who needs to apologize. I... I know you're busy, and I don't want to intrude more than I already have--"

Shiro stopped talking the instant Keith placed a warm, work-worn hand on Shiro's shoulder.

"I haven't been avoiding you." Keith's voice was gentle, but his gaze was intense. "It's... a rough time of the year for me, but I would not avoid you."

"How did you..."

"I was bounced around foster homes growing up," Keith said bitter-sweetly. "I can tell when someone feels like they've been given up on."

Shiro frowned. And here he thought he was good at concealing his emotions. Another skill he seemed to have lost, somehow. And yet, Keith wasn't acting like he was a nuisance.

"Listen, it's too early for the local shops to have opened. But how 'bout sometime Friday, I take you out to dinner? My treat." He smiled. "I get paid that day, so our options are broader."

"Sure!" The promise of Keith and one guaranteed meal curtailed any shyness or guilt in eagerly accepting the offer.

"Fantastic," Keith said with a grin. "It's a date."

Shiro glided back to his apartment, relieved/thrilled that Keith hadn't given up on him--and that he thought Shiro was good enough to spend time with--that the word "date" didn't register until he was back in his living room.

Oh.

This was going to be interesting.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me (4/?)
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Panic attacks. And again, Adam is not super supportive of Shiro in this verse. Also: Honerva was Shiro's doctor in this verse, and shockingly, she was not a Good Doctor.
Notes: Whaddya know, I'm updating almost regularly? @_@

--

Shiro stared at his closet's contents warily. He'd been forced to sell his nicer clothes to pay for medical bills. It hadn't been too much of a loss then--when you lose your career, your arm, and your boyfriend in the space of less than a year, you really don't have a reason to look nice--but today he had a date(?) with Keith in two hours, and he wanted to look presentable. Or least a bit less grungy than usual.

Then again, Keith had seen him at some of his lower moments, and hadn't batted an eyelash, Shiro reminded himself as he finally settled on a grey shirt and the jeans with no holes in them. He ran a hand through his hair--it was longer than he preferred, but again, who cared how you looked when you were objectively a failure. He still found himself brushing it, and pulling it into a ponytail.

He glanced at himself in the mirror. He looked better than the last time he assessed himself after that last nightmare. He was showered, in clean clothes. He looked like a real person. He almost felt like a real person.

He hoped Keith liked how he looked.

... God, what was he, twenty.

He huffed as he got ready for November weather by shrugging on his coat. Keith was an objective guy. He wouldn't care how Shiro looked.

--

"You look good."

Shiro smiled nervously. "Thanks. You look good yourself."

And boy, was that an understatement. He wasn't wearing anything fancy--just pants and a bright orange button-down with the words "THE HUNKYARD" on the back, but there was a confidence and vibrancy that infused Keith's being.

"I look like I just got off of work." Keith looked Shiro over one more time, and Shiro must have imagined the soft look in his eyes. "There's a sandwich place five minutes from here if we take my bike. Are sandwiches okay with you?"

Shiro smiled. "I'm okay with anything."

--

Fifteen minutes in, and Shiro was not okay.

The place was neck-deep in the dinner rush, with students and families gossiping and shouting orders. The noise would have been tolerable, except the people that were waiting in line with Keith and Shiro had no concept of personal space, and after his time with Honerva he really, really needed space--

Someone accidentally shoved him in their rush to get their order.

Shiro kept his reaction to a short yelp.

But it was still enough that Keith noticed.

And everyone else.

Shiro wanted to apologize, but he couldn't force the words out. Not when everyone was staring. And whispering. And judging.

"Hey," Keith said, one hand on Shiro's left arm. "Wanna make this order to go?"

Shiro nodded numbly.

--

"My pop had anxiety, sometimes," Keith explained as they ate turkey sub sandwiches in the parking lot, leaning against Keith's cherry red motorcycle. "Especially in crowds. I'm sorry, I should have noticed earlier."

"Keith, you're not in charge of my mental health. I just...it was a long week."

Keith nodded slowly. "I get that."

Shiro took a breath. Going out to eat wasn't going perfectly, but Keith hadn't dumped him just yet. "Thank you for understanding."

"Shiro, I'm just doing what any decent person would do."

... Would they? The Garrison was full of decent people, but they felt he was incapable of flying or teaching or providing references for other jobs. Adam had been wonderful, and then told Shiro he couldn't deal with his "toxic personality" anymore. Honerva had promised she would help him fly again, which had led to a series of mind games so intense, he'd all but fled her hospital.

But that was in the past, and Keith was with him now.

"Anyways," Keith said as he scrunched up his sub wrapper. "Wanna know what I was doing when I was gone?

Yes, of course. I want to know everything about you. "I'm more than willing to listen, but only if you feel like sharing."

 

Keith gazed up at the few cloud in the clear winter sky, eyes faraway. "I know my dad's dead, because I was there when they buried him. My mom, however, vanished one day. Dad never wanted to talk about her, so I just assumed she left us, but then..."

"But then?"

"Her father contacted me, and well." Keith ran a hand through his dark hair. "I can't say too much, because I'm not sure how much of it I believe, but my... my grandfather is helping me track my mother down." He sighed heavily, covering his eyes. "Maybe. I don't know. I'm not even sure if it I want to find her at this point but I--sorry, Shiro. It's been intense."

Too intense that he could discuss it, Shiro was beginning to realized. He knew that too well. So he took Keith's hand so he could look at Keith properly. "It's your life, Keith. You can decide if you want your mother in it or not."

Keith was silent, but only for a moment. "I do want to find her," he said sincerely. "If only to know why she left us."

"Then I hope you find her."

Keith gaze him a warm, broad smile that made the day worth it. "Thanks. But it's getting cold. Wanna take what's left of our meals and finish it at my place?"

"Yes." After arranging their things and putting on their helmets, Shiro carefully wrapped his arms around Keith. "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Shoot."

"Why... why did you tell me that? I appreciate that you feel you can be honest with me," more than Keith would ever know, "but why--"

Keith gave him a piercing look, even with the helmet on. "I unlocked my tragic backstory for you, because I want to know that when you're ready, I will listen to yours."

Oh. "Thank you," he whispered, just barely resisting the urge to hide his face in Keith's back. "But for now, I think I just want to watch Star Trek reruns on your streaming service of choice, in your heated apartment." This day had turned out well after all, but it was November, and Shiro was cold.

"Nerd time it is, then," Keith said as he started the bike.

It had been a long time since Shiro could trust himself, much less anyone else. But so far, Keith hadn't judged him. About anything. He was treating Shiro like a person.

He was starting to feel like a person again, too.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me (5/?)
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Knife wounds, blood.
Notes: Whelp, like everyone else on the planet I was disappointed in the end credits for S8, so I stayed up late to write this. -_-

--

Things didn't magically get better after his talk with Keith. Shiro still lived in a crummy apartment with no job and a landlord that was making noise about the rent. He still couldn't remember the last time he had mac and cheese where the cheese wasn't actually powder. He still had nightmares.

But if he got up and dressed, Keith and Kosmo were waiting for him. Keith would talk about his job and whatever mischief Kosmo had gotten himself into, and sometimes they'd get breakfast (which Shiro had initially refused because he couldn't pay Keith back, but then Keith had given him A Look). He'd end the day with at least one solid meal and someone who didn't think he was damaged goods. That was worth forcing himself out of bed.

So when Keith asked, tone laced with guilt, if Shiro would do a favor him, Shiro agreed without a second thought.

"I need a dog sitter. And a house sitter. Kosmo gets lonely." Keith scritched Kosmo's ears as he spoke. "I'm really sorry to ask, but Hunk's working full-time and Shay is visiting her parents."

"Hmm, forced to raid your fridge and hang out with the coolest dog in the universe?" Shiro crouched so he was eye level with Kosmo. "Somehow, I'll manage. Somehow." Shiro winked at Kosmo.

Keith rolled his eyes. "I'm leaving Monday morning at 0500. I'll stop by your place with the keys. I'll be back by the end of the week."

"Sounds good." He hoped he wasn't intruding, but... "Where are you going?"

Keith wouldn't look at him. "I'm gonna go see my grandfather for a bit."

"Well, that makes sense. It is almost Thanksgiving, after all," Shiro said so Keith wouldn't feel obligated to continue.

"Aw, geez, I didn't even think," Keith groaned. "You probably want to spend time with your--"

"Keith. Do I look like I have loved ones to spend time with?" It was a joke. A truthful joke, but still. He was hoping to get a morbid laugh out of Keith, or at least another eye roll.

But Keith just put a hand on his shoulder. "If anyone deserves love, it's you."

How someone could be so sincere in so few words was disarming. And wonderful. His eyes stung, but he managed a smile. "Thank you, Keith. That means a lot."

"Make sure Kosmo doesn't drool on the couch, and we'll call it even."

--

Keith stopped by Monday morning with the keys--and an envelope of cash. Shiro wished he could refuse the money, but it was almost enough to cover his rent, so he bit back his embarrassment as he accepted the payment, even as Keith insisted it was fair.

He was feeling guilty and sleepy, slumped on the couch as Keith double checked everything, but noticed through his haze that he wasn't wearing a coat--and was about to go out on a road trip in November, before the sun was up.

"Keith, borrow my jacket." Shiro was already shrugging it off.

Keith gave him a lop-sided grin. "I'll be fine."

"Please. It'll make me feel better." He couldn't help Keith with whatever was happening with his grandfather, but at least he could keep him from getting cold. It was bold, but he placed the jacket over Keith's shoulder. It was too big, but Keith looked good in black.

Keith smiled at him. "Thank you."

And then he left, and Shiro felt a little lighter.

--

The days passed by in a pleasant haze, thanks to Kosmo's company and Keith's Netflix account. The only real chore he had to do was clean up after himself and Kosmo--and drool aside, that wasn't too difficult. It gave him time to familiarize himself with the little world Keith has built for himself and Kosmo. It was cramped, and there wasn't a lot of things in the place, but it was cozy (yes, even with the cow skull). Between the quilts on the couch and the half-melted candles on the table, it was clear that while Keith didn't have a lot to his name, he was working to make himself a home.

Shiro wished he still had that kind of fire.

Kosmo hopped on the couch for pets. Shiro ran his left hand through Kosmo's fur. He doubted he'd ever have that fire again. He wasn't sure if he was meant to. But he would gladly accept these few moments of contentment.

They stayed like that for two TNG reruns until Shiro was ready for bed. "Okay, boy, you gotta move." Keith had assured him that he could used the bed, but Shiro was not going to do that. "Your human's coming home tomorrow morning." With a grumpy huff, Kosmo jumped off the couch and settled on the floor.

Shiro got up to brush his teeth and change into his pajamas, then tucked himself in with the old quilt. He was going to miss this quiet peace, but he was looking forward to seeing Keith again.

He hoped things had gone okay with his grandfather.

--

Shiro checked the time on Keith's clock one more time. He wasn't late enough that Shiro felt the need to contact him, but it was late enough to start worrying. Yes, Keith was strong and capable, but he was also human, and accidents happened--

Shiro took out his flip phone and called Keith.

"Yeah?"

There was something strange in his tone. "Keith, it's Shiro. Are... are you all right? It sounds like you're in pain."

"I'm fine. I'll be home soon." He ended the call before Shiro could respond.

This was just strange. Keith was the type to clearly voice any disgruntlement. It was one of the reasons Shiro admired Keith so much. Why would he lie like this?

He waited, and waited, and was just about to poke his head outside the door to look when Keith returned.

He stood tall, even as he wobbled, even with the blood stain on Shiro's jacket, and the gauze on the right side of his face.

"S-sorry," Keith grunted. "I ruined your jacket..." He stumbled. Shiro managed to catch him in time.

He wanted to know who did this. He wanted to know who he needed to kill. But right now Keith was trembling in his arms, and Shiro needed to make sure he was going to be okay. "C'mon buddy," he whispered as he eased Keith onto the couch. "Give me your keys. I'll drive you to the doctor."

"Already saw the doctor." Keith's tone was thick, like he'd been drugged. "I'm fine."

Shiro inspected Keith. He'd been in enough hospitals to know what professional bandages looked like, and the one on his face wasn't that.

"Okay. But if you get worse, I'm calling one."

"Don't worry. I heal fast."

"You don't say." Shiro frowned. "Keith, can you move your right arm? I need to check it."

Keith cried out as he stretched his limbs, but the jacket, then the shirt was discarded in a bloody pile by the couch. Kosmo sniffed it once, and it rattled him enough that he stuck to Keith's side.

This bandage looked even more amateurish, not to mention it was soaked in blood. "Do you have any gauze?"

Keith took a deep breath. "Drawer by the sink."

Shiro rushed to retrieve it. "Okay, I'm going to change your bandage for your shoulder. Let me know if I hurt you, okay?"

Keith gazed up at him, eyes cloudy. "You could never hurt me, Shiro."

The next few minutes were silent, aside from a frustrated huff (Shiro) and gaps of pain (Keith) when the bandage tape refused to move. But Shiro was patient. The wound itself looked like it came from a knife, which was incredibly disturbing, but Keith was in no condition to talk.

Shiro focused on his mission.

Once he was done, Shiro tried to relax. Keith was alive. Safe. Whoever had hurt him would not come through this door.

But Keith was also shivering, and wouldn't even look at Kosmo.

Carefully, so he wouldn't aggravate Keith's wound, he wrapped the quilt around him. "I'll stay until you wake up."

Keith swallowed. "Don't wanna burden you."

"Not possible, buddy." He sat next to Keith, arm wrapped around Keith's left side. "You've helped me so often. Let me help you."

Keith shuddered, then leaned into Shiro.

Shiro glanced out the kitchen window. It was early, and dark, but the beginnings of a sunrise were appearing.

"It'll be okay, Keith," he promised to his sleeping friend. "The sun's coming up. And I'm here to protect you."

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me (6/?)
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Alluded to violence
Notes: I may add more to this later (see the notes at the end of the fic as well, please)

--

"You failed."

Grandfather Kolivan towered over him, grey hair pulled back into a stern braid. "You can't find your mother in this state."

The painkillers had yet to kick in, so Keith had to will himself to not scream as Grandfather Kolivan finished patching up his wounds. "That sounds like quitter talk."

"You should have left when it became clear that he wasn't going to give you the info."

"He knew something--"

"And if you hadn't let your emotions get the better of you, then we could have investigated his records."

The shame was as intense as the pain.

Grandfather Kolivan didn't sigh so much as he rumbled. "Rest. I will drive you home in the morning."

He forced himself up through the pain and the haze. "Don't bother. I can take care of myself."

--

Keith woke up, sort of. He felt disconnected from... everything. After the past few days, that wasn't a bad thing. All he knew was that he had been in pain, but it was gone. And he was warm.

Someone (definitely not Grandfather Kolivan--his voice was too soft, too gentle) was talking to him. The words were muddled but the softness eased his concern that a stranger was in his apartment. This person wouldn't hurt him. This person wouldn't judge him.

The stranger leaned in, and Keith discovered that he was also the most beautiful man he'd seen in his life. His jawline was strong, but the eyes were dark and gentle.

"Oh, Keith. I wish I could do more." He--he looked sad over Keith. No one had ever felt sad over Keith. He... he was...

"An angel," Keith whispered, finding the strength to grip the angel's wrist. "You're an angel."

The angel merely smiled. "You have a pretty low bar for angels, buddy." There was mirth, but also an underlying sorrow Keith yearned to ease, like the angel had for him. "Rest now. I'm just heating up soup. I'll be back in a bit."

Grandfather Kolivan had said the same thing, but there was no bitterness. No silent suggestion that Keith didn't really deserve a mother if he fought someone who had called him a broken monster. Just concern.

"Okay... good night..."

--

Twenty minutes later, Keith woke up, his right side throbbing. Especially his shoulder. Especially his face. What have...

Aw, geez.

"Shiro?!"

"I'm here, Keith." He was just out of sight. A moment later, Shiro came in with a bowl of tomato soup. He placed it on the dinner tray, then sat next to Keith. "I saw you stirring, so I got you some soup, if you're up to it. Don't worry--I left it to simmer on the stove, so it's still warm."

Thank God for being ambidextrous... Keith took a sip of soup. "Thank you."

"I'm not much of a cook, but I can heat up instant meals up on a stove eye." Despite his words, Shiro looked very pleased with himself.

"It's exactly what I need right now." Something simple and warm to keep his strength. "Um. Did I say anything while I was wonky on pain meds?"

"Well, my house sitting was so excellent you promoted me to angelhood."

"Ugh." So his weird memories were correct. At least he had the "I was high on painkillers" excuse. "I'm sorry. I know that was silly."

"Nah. It was kind of nice. I don't think anyone's held me in such high regard." And again, there was that sadness in his voice that even when he'd been half-dead, he'd wanted to ease.

"Shiro. Are you okay?"

Shiro looked away for a moment, long white bangs hiding his right eye. "Yes. For the most part. It's just old memories."

Keith reached out with his left hand, pushing away the bangs, thanking whoever was out there that Shiro didn't pull away. "You can tell me anything."

He smiled, sadly. "I know. And I will, one day. But for now," and there was deliberate purpose in his tone, "I want you to know that you can tell me anything as well. Especially about the state you came home in."

Keith leaned against his couch. "Well, as you can probably guess, my grandfather had some news on my mother. Sort of. He said he tracked down some guy who knew her on a mission, but as you can also probably guess, it went sour."

Shiro's brow furrowed. "I don't understand. Did he attack him?"

"I attacked him." If that bothered Shiro, it didn't show. "He... said things about my mother, and my pop, and me. I couldn't let it stand." And now he was back at square one. He didn't even know if Grandfather Kolivan would ever give him any leads again.

"Of course," Shiro said without missing a beat. "But what are you going to do?"

"I don't know." God, he hated feeling like this.

Shiro leaned against him. "What can I do?"

Keith had no idea what he had done to earn this wonderful man's kindness. He didn't like using that kindness, either, but he was going to need help.

"Um. Weird question, but. Can you drive a motorcycle?"

Shiro broke out into a wide grin. "Heck yeah! It used to be my hobby, but then I had to sell my bikes. You know how it is."

"Boy, do I ever." He ignored how the pain in his shoulder was getting worse. He'd need to take the meds again soon. "I can't ride in my condition. If you're not bus, I was wondering if you could drive me to work."

"Of course--and errands and anyplace else."

Shiro was too good for this world. Keith smiled weakly. "How about we group our errands together." At least then, he'd feel less guilty. "And I'll pay you just as much as when you were house sitting."

Shiro looked away, embarrassed. "That'll help out with some expenses. Thank you."

"Thank you." He rummaged in his bag for his meds. Thankfully, Shiro had also brought a water bottle, so downing them was easy. "Listen, this stuff makes me very sleepy very fast, so feel free to leave."

Shiro nodded. "I'll stay until you're asleep, just in case."

Just in case. God, he really was an angel.

He was everything Keith could ever want.

He made Keith dare to want again.

--

Final Notes: The one good thing about the S8 "epilogue": it's encouraged me to write more Sheith ASAP. >:(

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Briefly mentions panic attacks? Shiro's illness as well. Shiro's not in a good mental place for parts of this fic/Adam was not a good bf in this fic.
Notes: I got sick/sidelined with other stuff over the holidays, but I'm back at this verse. >:3

--

It was a summer day, but Shiro was shivering as he plodded through the parking lot, and back to their car. He'd told the doctor he needed time to process. That he'd call back first thing tomorrow. That at least now he knew there was a reason why his muscles would freeze up, the weak spells, the nights he'd wake up from the pain.

He was fine now. He could still fly. Not forever, but he could get in some missions before things got bad. He could make all his work and sacrifice mean something. He could--

"Takashi, stop." Adam did his best to smile. "You're sick." He kept smiling as he held out his hand for the keys. "I'll drive."

"... Okay." Because what else could he say to that? He moved just enough to switch to the passenger seat.

"Buckle up, Takashi."

"Okay."

"You still haven't given me the keys, Takashi."

Oh, right. "Okay." His right arm throbbed as he handed over the keys.

Adam was still smiling. "Don't worry, Takashi. I will take care of you."

Shiro rested his head against the passenger window. "Okay."

--

"Okay!" Shiro did one last check. Jacket, wallet, and even his old bike helmet. He knocked on the door. "Keith? You chauffeur is here!"

"Morning, Shiro--Kosmo, down!"

Shiro squeezed inside, placing his helmet on the table for now. "Let me help you put on your shirt and warm clothes, then we'll head out."

Keith huffed. "Yeah, okay." Despite his displeasure, Keith managed to relax enough so Shiro could help him slip into his THE HUNKYARD shirt. "I appreciate what you're doing, Shiro. I just wish I didn't have to keep putting you out like this."

"You are not." He eyed Keith critically. There was a bright red scar decorating Keith's right shoulder. His right cheek was still bandaged, but Shiro suspected there would be a scar there as well. He kept his body language neutral so he wouldn't upset, but wow he still wanted to kill whoever had done this to Keith.

But even with the fresh wounds, physical and emotional, there was a strength in Keith's movements Shiro had never seen in anyone else.

There was beauty as well, but now was not the time to dwell on that.

"There we go," Shiro said, distracting himself as he buttoned up Keith's shirt. "Ready for work?"

Keith smirked at him. "Yes, sir."

... Shiro took a very, very deep breath to steady himself. Because there was no way Keith was flirting with him. Guys like Keith didn't flirt with losers like Shiro. "Um, great! Let's go! Just two guys on the road!"

Just two guys on the road.

--

"Finally, I get to meet this mysterious Shiro." Keith's boss, Hunk, was a big man about Keith age with a friendly demeanor (although as he leaned in to inspect them, Shiro wondered if Hunk knew what personal space was). "Usually, he speeds off right after he drops you off." Hunk surveyed Shiro hawkishly. "Any deep, dark secrets you wanna share?"

"Hunk!" Keith punched Hunk's arm with his left fist. "His name is Shiro, and he's a good person. That's all."

"It's nice to meet you," Shiro interjected in the hopes of deescalating the situation. "I'm sorry for taking so long to introduce myself, but I usually run errands for Keith after I drop him off." He held out his hand, and was relieved when Hunk didn't hesitate to grasp the prosthetic hand in his large one.

"Hey, man, no worries." He grinned. "Keith and I go way back, and I gotta vet his buddies, you know?" Keith huffed, and rolled his eyes.

"I can respect that." He was glad that someone else was looking out for Keith. "Listen, it's been nice talking to you, but I need to get Keith's groceries."

"Understood, but hold on." Hunk clapped Shiro on the back, and Shiro (who was a big guy) stumbled a little. "Shay and I were going to go for drinks this weekend, and we've even managed to convince Keith to come. But I'm betting if you're there, he might stay for more than twenty minutes--"

"Hunk!" Keith stepped between them. "Shiro, you don't have to go--if you don't want to."

He wasn't really the type to go out and drink, but... he might have imagined it, but there was the tiniest bit of hope in Keith's voice. Maybe...

"I could go for drinks. If Keith is okay with it."

Keith's face lit up. "I am more than okay with it, Shiro."

--

"I'm sorry about Hunk being a butt," Keith said as Shiro drove them to the bar. "He's a great guy, but nosy as heck."

"I never would have noticed." Shiro breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the parking lot was mostly empty. Maybe he could stick around a bit. "So, tell me more about him."

"Hunk?" Keith smiled fondly. "We go way back. Most kids--and teachers--wrote me off as the troublemaker, but Hunk was probably the one person brave enough to learn more about me. He helped me find an apartment and a job. I think he's the closest I'll ever have to a brother."

A warmth settled in Shiro. "I'm glad you have someone like that in your life."

"I am, too. Now, c'mon, I need to make fun of him in front of his girlfriend." Keith grabbed Shiro by the hand, and it felt so natural, Shiro didn't even realize what they'd done until they were in the bar. Once he did, he didn't want to let go, only withdrawing when Hunk flagged them down.

He... he didn't expect anything. But he felt bold enough to almost hope.

--

The night went okay. It was loud, but not enough to start a panic attack. Mostly, Shiro listened to Keith and Hunk rib each other. Heh. They really did seem like brothers.

"Keith references you constantly in his conversations," Shay--who was a pretty girl with large earrings--said quietly to Shiro.

"Really?" Shiro took a sip of his soda (he was driving Keith home, after all).

Shay giggled over his drink. "Every moment of wakefulness, it seems like." Her expression grew more serious. "Mr. Shirogane, I--"

"Ryan!" Hunk screamed at the top of his lungs. A tall man with dark skin and dreads waved at them. "C'mere, you rascal!" And Keith... Keith grinned brilliantly as he rushed up to this Ryan, and hugged him. Tight.

The same way Shiro used to hug Adam.

Suddenly, everything was too loud and too bright. "E-excuse me," he managed. "I need air." At least Keith was so busy with his boyfriend that he didn't see Shiro run out the door, shivering in the cold night air.

He had known better. He had known better, blast it. Keith was beautiful and brave and loved intensely. Of course he would have a boyfriend every bit as beautiful he was. Keith wouldn't date someone with not even a sliver of a future left. He wouldn't date someone who messed up everything.

"Mr. Shirogane?" Shay approached him, wrapped up in Hunk's jacket, and... Keith was with her.

Shiro composed. "Hey," he said with a weak smile.

"Hey yourself." Keith frowned, hands in his pockets. "I, um. I should have introduced you to Ryan."

"No, that's fine. He's your boyfriend; of course you should spend time with him."

Keith started coughing wildly, while Shay made a sound somewhere between a gasp and a giggle. She calmed enough to instruct Keith, "Clarify the situation!"

Keith cleared his throat. "Ryan is my ex-boyfriend, Shiro."

"It's true," Ryan said, ignoring that Keith, Shiro and Shay all yelped as he appeared from nothingness. "And we have no desire to get back together."

Keith sighed, but fondly. "Still creeping around wherever you feel like?"

Ryan shrugged. "I'm a quiet man." He turned to Shiro, nodding. "Ryan Kinkade."

"Takashi Shirogane. Call me Shiro." God, this was embarrassing. "I really need to apologize."

"Don't." Ryan smiled evenly. "We're all just trying to find our way in this universe. Misunderstandings happen."

"Good to know you're still reflecting on the nature of life." Keith nudged Ryan. "So, what brings you back to town?"

"I'm making a film for school. A coming of age thing. So, where better to film than here?" Ryan scratched his face thoughtfully. "I wasn't expecting to get so many concrete reminders of high school, however."

"Hey, guys?" Hunk strode into the parking lot. "Y'all can keep having your conversation out here in the dark, in November all you want, but I'm just letting you know. I will not pay your part of the bill." He turned away. "If you excuse me, I'm heading back to the heated building."

"I like heat," Ryan said as he followed Hunk. Shay accompanied him.

He was alone, with Keith. After running away like a lovesick kid when it looked like Keith had someone else.

"You go ahead. I'll wait here and wait the for earth to swallow me up," Shiro assured him.

Keith just put a hand on his arm. "We dated for a couple of years in high school," Keith said. "It was nice, but not nice enough to try to keep it going when we both realized that we growing apart when he moved out of state for college. We're still on pretty good terms."

"I can tell."

"Yeah. He and Hunk kept me going when things seemed bad. Shay, too."

"I'm glad." Shiro sighed heavily. "Keith, I'm sorry. It's just--it's been awhile since I even had friends, and the ones I thought I had sided with my ex, and--" He froze, because he had not meant for that to slip.

"Hey." Keith nudged him, but he...lingered in Shiro's space more than he had with Ryan. "I get it. Don't worry about it."

Shiro groaned. "I can't help but."

"Well, let's at least worry inside?" Keith's lips twitched upwards. "C'mon. We're your friends now."

After everything with Adam, Shiro wasn't sure he'd ever believe that again.

Keith gazed up at him, stars in his eyes, warmth and light given human form. "Please stay, Shiro."

Shiro laughed. "I kinda have to. I'm the designated driver."

"You know what I mean. Have fun, don't just hide out here."

Keith took his hand, and he was willing to try.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: None
Notes: Finally, an update. -_-

--

Something changed between them after that night at the bar. Shiro couldn't quite specify it. He wasn't sure if he wanted to. He wasn't thinking about how he might misspeak or mess up when he saw Keith. The wave of guilt he felt when Keith took him out to lunch or invited for dinner has diminished. He wasn't going to assume anything more beyond a few meal dates, of course, but maybe... just maybe Keith actually did see something in Shiro that he liked.

He must, Shiro thought, as Keith let him watch another TNG rerun without batting an eyelash.

"Are you sure you're okay with my hogging your Netflix?" Shiro offered him the remote. "We can switch."

Keith shook his head. "I'm not much of a TV person." He smiled at Shiro. "As long as the company's good, I'm fine with whatever."

"Okay, then. Oh, good. We're at the third season." Shiro rubbed his hands together. "No spoilers, but this is where the show starts to get good."

Keith leaned back against the couch. "Oh, thank God," he breathed.

"Hey, I thought you were fine with whatever!"

"I am! But," and Keith threw his arms in the air, "is the bald guy every gonna stop yelling at the robot man?!"

Shiro nodded solemnly. "I assure you, Picard and Data will become best friends forever."

"Good," Keith huffed. "I kinda like the robot man. Him, and the alien with the sash."

"Then you will love season four. But you need to watch season three first. The show's still pretty episodic now, but near the end they set up one of the biggest..." Keith was staring at him. "I'm sorry," Shiro said sheepishly. "Guess I'm in nerd mode." Adam used to tease him good-naturedly about it--except at the end of their relationship, he hadn't been so good-natured about it.

"No, it's fine." Keith nudged him. "I just think it's cute when you get passionate about stuff, that's all."

"I think you're always cute," Shiro managed, somehow, even though his face was burning and his left hand was trembling. He hadn't flirted since his first few dates with Adam, and that was years ago. He wanted to go further, and Keith seemed to want to go further, but what if he had misjudged--

Keith was still pressed against his side.

"This is nice," Keith said more to himself than Shiro. "It turned out to be a pretty good Thanksgiving after all."

 

... Oh, right. When you were unemployed and single, you tended to lost track of the days. "Your, ah, grandfather doing okay?"

Keith nodded. "Last I checked. But Grandfather Kolivan's a traveler. I think he's somewhere in south Texas, with orders to not be disturbed until January."

"I see." Shiro was secretly relieved. He knew Keith had reasons to seek out his grandfather, and Shiro respected that. But every time he caught a glimpse of Keith's new scars, it made him wish Kolivan would never call Keith again.

"Yeah." Keith's fingers tightened around his soda can. "Usually, I do Turkey Day with Hunk and Shay. But this year they're spending it with her family."

"So, they didn't invite him?" He was going to have words with them.

"The exact opposite." He smiled fondly. "They were already wanting to add my favorite dish to the menu. But..."

"But?"

"Shay's brother Rax is there this year, and he has made it clear he doesn't approve of Shay's friends. Hunk gets a pass only because Shay screamed at him to leave 'the one I adore more than all' alone."

The screaming didn't sound like Shay. The unique phrasing, however, did. "So, you're trying to make sure Hunk and Shay have one less thing for Rax to guilt them about. That's sweet, but what about you?"

Keith hummed, resting his head on Shiro's shoulder. "I'm good."

Oh.

They watched the episode in silence. When the credits rolled, Shiro reluctantly pulled away from Keith to use the restroom--and then yelped when he saw the clock. "Aw, geez." How was it past midnight? Yes, they'd been watching a lot of TNG, but not that much. "I think I accidentally overstayed my welcome, Keith."

"What" Keith frowned at the clock on the wall. "Hunh, it is pretty late."

"I'll get my stuff and go home."

"You'll stay here."

"I don't want to impose."

"You ain't." Keith shrugged. "You still have a spare toothbrush here, and I know I got clothes that would fit you. And I don't want you walking alone at night."

"Keith, we live in an apartment complex."

"Still."

It was late. And he... he didn't want to leave Keith until he had to. "All right. I'll take the couch."

"You'll take the bed. Kosmo and I will do just fine on the couch."

Shiro frowned. "Do you always get this stubborn when you're overtired."

"Yep. Just ask Hunk."

--

Shiro had tried to argue for the couch, but after Keith and Kosmo pushed him in the bedroom, Shiro gave in. He stripped down to his boxers, put his arm on the dresser, and tried not to feel like he was an intruder. This was more... intimate than house sitting or wound dressing or awkwardly flirting on the couch. This was lying in a double bed under a handmade quilt, and a picture of a man who looked so much like Keith that Shiro had no doubt that he was Keith's father. Keith had let Shiro into his world, bit by bit, and it was a privilege Shiro was going to live up it to, he swore to himself before sleep settled over him.

--

He was warm when he woke up, which was his first clue that something was off--his one thin comforter didn't keep in much body heat. Right. He was in Keith apartment, in his bed.

He was still too groggy to fret about that, however. Shiro stretched lazily, out his prosthetic arm on, brushed his teeth, then trotted to the closet, finding a shirt and sweat pants that had probably belonged to Hunk, once upon a time. Warm and soft, and smelling like laundry soap.

After dressing, Kosmo, who was also warm and soft, butted against his legs. Without a second thought, he reached down to pet Kosmo.

"Morning." Keith was setting the table. "Hope you like sausages and eggs." He walked over to Shiro, gazing up at him, with more warmth than Shiro deserved.

"I love 'em," Shiro confessed. Then, again without a second thought, he whispered, "I wish every morning could be like this."

Keith stilled, suddenly vulnerable. "It could be, if you want."

Shiro was wide awake, and aware of every detail. The angry red scar on Keith's face. The smell of meat and eggs. Kosmo snuffling between them. His own stuttery breaths. "Keith." Please, please don't freeze up. "Keith, c-can I kiss you?"

"Always," Keith breathed as he did just that.

 

--

Final notes: Sorry about how long it took to update. -_- My emotional health has not been good the past few weeks. I think I have chapter 9 plotted out, so hopefully that will be up at the end of the week.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith, Hunk/Shay
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: None
Notes:Sorry for no update for so long, but I've been trying to see someone re: mental health, and it's going about the way you'd expect. Get ready for some Shiro adn Shay FRIENDSHIP BUILDING in all this Sheith melodrama

--

It was the first day of December and Shiro's savings had diminished to the point where he had to choose between heat and food, which meant he was currently huddled under all three of his blankets (he was too scared of burning the building down if he tried using the oven for heat), quietly eating a single serving of microwavable mac and cheese. He was cold and his crummy microwave had only heated the food halfway, but it did give him some time to process his thoughts about Keith.

He was so bad when it came to romance. Both of his high school sweethearts had dumped him--one during the middle of lunch in front of everyone (freshman year), and one that broke it off so he could not worry about romance and his pre-law program at the same time (senior year). He'd met Adam in college, and things had worked out so effortlessly, he has confessed to Adam once that he felt like he was living a fairy tale. Adam had laughed, and told him with a kiss that no, it was real--but his sister Katie wrote children's books, they could ask her and double check.

But then he'd gotten sick, and his prince didn't love him enough to get him through his cursed moments.

Bad brain. Shiro stuck out his tongue in disgust in his now empty plastic cup, setting it on the table. He'd just resigned himself to being alone until Keith. Keith, who'd seen his darker moments, but didn't act like they were something to ignore or gloss over. Keith, who made him feel needed.

He was glad that they were (sort of, kind of) boyfriends now.

But there was a reason why he had so many exes.

The knock on the door jarred him out of his thoughts. Shiro quickly ran over who it could be as he settled the blankets over his shoulders and shuffled to the door. Keith was still at work. So was Hunk. He'd paid his rent; so no one should be bugging him about that. Hmm. Shiro peered into the door's peep hole warily.

"... Shay?" Shiro unlocked the door, allowing Shay to stomp in.

"I am infuriated with the universe," Shay hissed, her large hands balled into fists, too angry to bother removing her baby pink jacket (which considering how cold it was, that was a blessing in disguise).

"I'm sorry," Shiro said, because what else could he say? "I'm also wondering how you found my apartment."

Shay blushed furiously. "A-apologies. I cannot converse with Hunk, and Keith said you lived in his building, and since Shirogane is a unique surname..."

"Ah, okay." It had... been awhile since he'd had company over, but he wanted to make Shay feel better. "There's not much, but I could make us some tea."

"I shall prepare tea," Shay promised him, shoving him gently to the couch. "To excuse my boldness, and because I need the distraction."

He was about to protest, but there was something hard in Shay's expression that made him relent. "Well, all right," he said as he took a seat. "Tell me what's going on with Hunk?"

"Hunk's fine." Her voice was tight with just barely controlled rage as she set the kettle on the stove. "It's Rax."

Shiro smiled in sympathy. "Overprotective older brother?"

"Sanctimonious older brother," she snapped, glaring at the kettle. "He claims that he worries for me entering a relationship when I am only twenty-four and I have not concluded my graduate program, but he secretly presumes that because our family is affluent, I am not allowed to have even friends who are, horror of horrors, middle class." She sighed softly. "God, some of the things he would say about Keith back in high school..."

Shiro bristled. "I understand he's your brother, Shay, but he has no say in your friends or your love life."

"I am cognizant of that, but thank you," she said with a sad smile. When the kettle whistled, Shay turned off the stove. "I wish Rax was."

"Well, he'll come around. And if he doesn't, Keith and I will kick his butt."

Shay smiled again for real this time as she steeped the tea. "Speaking of Keith, how are things between you two?"

Shiro frowned thoughtfully. "I think we're boyfriends now?"

"What wonderful news!" Shay took a seat next to him. "I'm thrilled. I know you will bring joy to all of Keith's days."

Shiro pushed all thoughts of Adam (and Curtis, and Roy) out of his mind as he grinned at Shay. "Thank you. Heaven knows he makes me happy."

"So," she said slyly, "when is your next date?"

"I'm... not sure? I think we were going to watch more TNG at his place after work."

She looked like he'd told her Santa Claus wasn't real. "Shiro! While I won't dictate your love life, you must have a proper date at some point. It can't all be reruns and awkward meetings with exes at bars."

"Sound like you are dictating, but okay." Shay flipped her hair, then left to pour the tea.

They drank in silence, and Shiro pretended to notice Shay didn't notice that he was living in a filthy apartment with no heat.

"Shiro," she said slowly. "Hunk is looking for new mechanics."

"I really don't know my way around cars."

"Well, he's also looking for someone to run things in the office--"

"Shay. I appreciate it, really." He wanted to tell her that he didn't need help. That he could get by on his own. But he had only eaten that small cup of mac and cheese all day. "But right now, I'm... in a weird place mentally. It's going to be awhile until I work up the nerve to get a haircut, much less polish my resume."

Shay smiled nervously. "Well, maybe I can help with the hair at least?"

"How so?"

She gave him a look. "I've been to sleepovers, Shiro. I know how to braid hair."

"Oh!" Well, what could it hurt. He turned around, silently grateful that his hair didn't tangle too much (so she wouldn't know that he hadn't brushed his hair today).

Shay's fingers were big and warm as she parted his hair into sections. "Your hair's so soft, Shiro."

Her fingertips against his scalp felt so good, Shiro closed his eyes without realizing it. "Thanks."

"Don't thank me. Getting to braid your lovely tresses is reward enough." She began turning the sections into a thick braid. "And just think how Keith will react."

Shiro huffed. But he was still a guy in love, and the idea that his boyfriend would be turned on made him feel good.

"Okay, all done. Where's your mirror?"

"The bathroom." Shiro padded in that direction, Shay close on his heels.

... Oh, wow. Without his hair in his eyes, he actually did look decent. He wasn't going to go out and job hunt this instant, but it was amazing how just seeing his face properly again helped. "Thank you, Shay," he breathed.

"Again, it's fine. Although I may have to take you up on that offer to kick my brother's butt one day."

"Anytime," Shiro said warmly, gazing down at her.

"Thank you." Her voice was soft. "I love Hunk, but there are things I can't tell him, especially when I know they would just break his heart. And I can't tell Keith, because he can't lie to save his life and he would tell Hunk..."

"So, you told me," he finished for her. "Don't worry. Your secret's safe with me."

"I should go," Shay admitted as they headed back to the living room. "I have an evening class."

"Ugh," Shiro offered helpfully in sympathy.

Shay shrugged. "Just two more weeks, and then the semester is over. Have fun with Keith."

"Hey, Shay, if you ever need anything--" He was startled as Shay hugged him.

"All I need is for you to know that we're officially friends."

"Yes, ma'am."

--

"Keith?" Shiro knocked on Keith's door. "I'm here."

"Hey, Shiro..." Keith stared at him, jaw slack, pupils dilated.

"Heh, yeah. Shay fixed my hair for me today. It's a little weird, having it out of my face, but--" Keith grabbed him in a hug, kissing him fiercely.

--

Final notes: For those curious: Adam's sister Katie is not Katie Holt, but rather another Katie. If you know my past writing, you can guess which Katie this is. Obviously Sheith is still the main pairing, but I really want to establish a world that feels real (for lack of a better term), along with indulging in all my Voltron OTPs. Hunk/Shay is a big one. -_- Also, idk if anyone is waiting for Allura and Lance, but: I do have ideas for them, but have yet to figure out where to introduce them. But they are coming!

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me (9/?)
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith, Hunk/Shay
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: None
Notes: Pidge and Matt finally appear! Also, just in case I haven't mentioned it yet: The Hunkyard is a reference to Voltron Force. Pidge's mermaid love is a nod to Lauren Montgomery's mermaid love. ;P

Good lord, but Shiro was hot with his hair out of his face.

Keith couldn't get the image out of his head. The regal brow, high cheekbones, strong jaw, and those spellbinding dark eyes had been there in Shiro's full glory, no longer hidden behind white bangs. It'd been like seeing Shiro for the first time: sweet and shy like always, but know willing to take what he wanted, and wow, was Keith lucky that Shiro wanted him...

"Keith?" Hunk's voice was an unwelcome intrusion into Keith's sleepy fantasies. "I want you to look at the map."

"Yeah, yeah," Keith grumbled, once again hating that he'd agreed to ride with Hunk to freaking California. They lived close enough to the Oregon-California border that it wasn't a terribly long trip, but Hunk insisted on getting up before dawn so they could avoid traffic. Keith glared down at his phone. "we have about thirty more minutes until we meet your serial killer."

Hunk rolled his eyes. "Keith, there's nothing murderous about meeting a guy ordering parts on the Hunkyard's website, and us driving to deliver them. I mean, c'mon, he's supporting a local business. Well, local-ish. We're close enough to California to be local."

"Hm." Keith eyed the scenery warily. They were off the main road, and the scenery was littered with large houses painted in immaculate white and blues, with perfect lawns. Feeling out of his element, he closed his eyes and thought of how beautiful Shiro was again... how that braid would look against his spine after Keith removed his shirt...

"Anyways, this is going to be good for our business. Our client is from one of the big families in the tech industry, but he's not living off of Daddy's money--he's a genius in his own right. And if he endorses our work, this could lead to a whole other world of business for us, Keith. I've been wanting to expand the Hunkyard for some time--some tech stuff, get back into engineering more again, stuff like that, Keith. Heck, maybe I can squeeze in selling some baked goods in there somewhere. I mean, why not? Right, Keith?"

Glumly realizing that his dreams about Shiro would have to wait for now, Keith decided to wake up properly. "I'm sure your parents are proud of you for making the business larger and weirder every day."

"Yeah," Hunk said with a grin as he made a left turn. "Now if I could just get possible future brother-in-laws to feel the same way."

Hunk was still grinning, but Keith had known Hunk long enough to tell when he was pretending to be sunny to cover up his real feelings. "I'm guessing Thanksgiving didn't go over too well."

Hunk wasn't smiling anymore, brown eyes fixed on the road. "Well, her grandmother still loves me. Her parents have warmed up to me. But Rax... let's just say Shay and I spend spent some time screaming into the guest room's pillows. And by 'some time,' I mean almost an hour."

"He'll come around," Keith assured him. "Everyone loves you. Even I love you, and I'm evil."

"True, but Rax is also a snob."

"Well, if he doesn't come around, you have about a foot on him, not to mention you were on our high school's wrestling team. You could suplex him."

"Keith, I'm not suplexing Rax. It's wrong. And he'd sue me." He sighed heavily. "I don't really care what he thinks. But he's breaking Shay's heart, and I just... I don't know what to do anymore."

"Shay would say yes. If you propose. I know it. She loves you more than she cares about Rax thinks."

"But she loves Rax, too." He was blinking rapidly as they made their last stop at a light before reaching the client's house. "I can't get between that."

Keith had also known Hunk enough to tell that if he pushed something further, Hunk would break down crying, so the rest of the car ride was in silence.

--

Hunk parked in the cleanest driveway Keith had seen in his life. Not to mention the type of house that he had only seen in sitcoms on nights Hunk controlled the TV. Almost immediately, a young man walked out of the back door to greet them, waving cheerfully.

"You must be the guy with the romance novel cover hair!" Hunk said brightly as he stepped out of the car to shake the man's hand.

"Yep, that's me," The man said, smiling slightly as he flicked his ponytail off his shoulder. "Little sisters and their clever taunts are good descriptors. Whether I want them to be or not." He smiled at Hunk. "It's great to finally meet you offline, Mr. Garrett."

"Please, call me Hunk. And the pleasure's all mine. I can't believe I'm meeting the guy who revolutionized communications tech."

"Well, I can't believe I'm meeting the guy who built me the engine for my prototype in his backyard." Matt bounced on his heels. "I can't wait to try it out."

"Neither can I!" Keith breathed a sigh of relief from the car. It was good to see Hunk nerding out over nerd stuff. The car ride had been... tense.

"Oh, by the way, my bro Keith came with me. Say hi, Keith!"

Keith's face was burning as he mumbled a quick greeting, then stared at the steering wheel.

"Keith's shy," Hunk explained.

"That's okay. So's my sister Katie." Matt smiled in Keith's direction but didn't try to make eye contact. Hunh. Maybe he really did get the aversion to strangers thing after all. "If you're hungry, my mom made waffles."

Keith didn't like meeting new people, but he liked waffles, so he unbuckled his seatbelt and joined Hunk and Matt.

--

Mrs. Holt's waffles were amazing. The only thing better than the waffles was the coffee, which was appreciated after his morning. And Hunk was so chatty, he didn't even have to worry about small talk. It was nice.

Nice, but also surreal. He'd had the same feeling whenever the Garretts invited him over (and they had, a lot). Seeing a normal family--or at least what society dictated was a normal family--still felt strange. Like he kept expecting the facade to fade. He supposed after everything he'd seen, he'd always feel that way.

But he was at a point now where he could accept having breakfast with a nice family at face value, he realized as he thanked Mrs. Holt for passing the syrup.

At that point, a teenage girl with some serious bed hair trudged into the kitchen, still in her pajamas. When she set eyes on Keith, she hissed. No. Really. "Mom!" The girl (Katie, probably) yelped. "Why is there a stranger in our kitchen?!"

Unphased, Mrs. Holt took a sip of coffee. "Katie, these are Matt's guest. He told you they were coming over last night, remember?"

Katie sulked. "I was playing Smash Brothers. You can't expect me to pay attention to anything else aside from killing King K. Rool."

"Katie--" But this was obviously an argument they had on a regular basis since Katie grabbed an orange and stomped back to her room.

"Sorry," Mrs. Holt said with a sigh. "It's my fault, I should have made sure to warn her again that people were coming over."

"No, Mom, I should have." Matt also sighed. "Katie is really sweet once you get to know her, but she doesn't handle strangers well."

"Neither do I." Keith was slightly surprised that he was voluntarily speaking.

"Exactly. Besides, we're here for science. You said Katie likes science stuff, right?"

Matt nodded. "She's got, like, five posters of Tesla in her room." He chuckled. "One of them is Tesla as a mermaid."

"Well, if we get started, I'm sure she'll sense the science, and want to help out, right?"

Keith frowned. "You can sense science. Really."

Mrs. Holt shrugged. "Don't look at me. My field is botany."

--

Matt and Hunk got to work in the basement, while Keith cleaned up in the kitchen. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Katie come in, dressed in a frilly purple blouse, dark green leggings, and Little Mermaid slipper socks. Her hair was in a ponytail, and her eyes were glued to her Switch.

"Don't look at me, mortal," she warned Keith as she straddled a chair, still playing. "I'm only here because the wifi is stronger than in my bedroom."

"Duly noted." He worked quietly, which apparently was enough to convince Katie that he wasn't a creep. Her beginning attempts to break the ice were interesting: Hunk was nosy and wanted to know every detail about you. Katie talked about her game. She kept going on about how she liked a plant, but R.O.B was her main, and a world of light she was struggling with. Keith had no idea what any of it meant, but she was clearly passionate about it.

"Heh. That's what you get, thinking you could beat my Piranha Plant." Katie glanced at him. "You're old, so you probably know nothing about Smash."

"Yeah, probably," Keith admitted as he put away a plate.

"But I could teach you." She was smug, but there was that tiny hint of hope, not unlike the first time Hunk asked him to play on his old N64 ("It's a classic!") when they were kids.

Why not? He was done with dishes. "Sure."

"Great!" She started putting her console into tabletop mode. "Keep in mind that I am a merciless teacher."

"Cool," Keith said as he picked the first sword guy on the screen.

--

The controller fell from Katie's hands as she lost her fifth match. "How... how..." She grabbed Keith's jacket sleeve. "Where did you learn your strategy?!"

"I pressed the buttons? And I hit the plant when he attacked me."

Katie snarled. "Okay. We're playing again, right now."

"No, you're not," Matt said as he and Hunk entered the kitchen. "Hunk and I are done. He and Keith have a long car trip home, Katie."

"I--but--my revenge, Matt!"

Matt shrugged. "Online play's a thing."

"Yes!" Katie pointed at Keith fiercely. "You! You and I are going to have a rematch!"

"We can't. I don't have a Switch," Keith admitted.

Katie looked like she was going to cry.

"Hey, no worries," Hunk promised her, one hand on her tiny shoulder. "I have a Switch, with Smash and everything. Keith can borrow that on weekends and you can murder him all you want, okay?"

"Okay," Katie agreed. She gave Keith a stern look. "I fully expect you to fight me again."

Keith gave her a salute.

--

"Thanks, Hunk, for all your help. Next time, I'll come to you. It seems only fair." He shook Hunk's hand good-bye. "I'll email you as soon as I review my schedule."

"Cool, man, no worries." Hunk stretched his limbs one last time before the drive home. "The Hunkyard will always be there."

Matt nodded, then he glanced at Keith. "Thanks for befriending Katie. She acts grouchy, but she's really lonely." He frowned slightly, eyes lost in thought. "She's smart and opinionated--the two things high schoolers hate the most. So, thanks."

"I get what it's like to be lonely," Keith told Matt.

--

"You know," Hunk said as they crossed the Oregon border, "for a lone wolf, you're really good at making lonely people feel like they're part of something."

Keith... hadn't thought of it that way. "You think?"

"I do. And I'm betting Shiro does as well."

Shiro...

He was looking forward to making Shiro feel less lonely.

--

Final Notes: Sorry about the wait. Depression/anxiety have been kicking my butt lately (but it looks like my new meds are finally kicking in, so yay). Additionally, I have lived in the southeast U.S. my whole life, so major apologies for any major Oregon and/or California fail. ;_; I am also aware that this is slowly morphing into a gen fic with ships rather than a super shippy fic. All I can say is that there will be lots of Sheith (and Allurance, and Hunay). It's just going to be a very, very slow build. ;_; Since this is an indulgent AU for me, I'm also taking time to write out gen/found family interactions that I love to death, and want to write/see more of.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me (10/?)
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith, Hunk/Shay
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Canonical parental death, alluded to past child abuse. Nothing is explicit, but please keep this in mind. Characters dealing with past trauma. One brief moment of implied suicidal ideation. Again, this is a chapter heavy on the comfort part of the h/c genre, but please keep that in mind.
Notes: SHEITH CHRISTMAS FLUFF TIME. Also, I've reorganized the fic so the chapter numbers make more sense.

--

Keith woke up with a low-grade migraine and a too familiar pain in his chest. Usually, he was up as soon as the alarm rang, but today he fumbled for his phone.

Like always, he checked to see if Grandfather Kolivan had sent him a text on one of his countless burner phones.

Nothing.

He set another alarm for as late as he dared and then collapsed back onto the mattress.

Kosmo came in, and while he had every right to nip at Keith's feet until he got like often did when it was time for a walk but Keith wasn't cooperating, he hopped into bed with him. Keith was too tired to do anything but hug Kosmo as thanks for understanding.

He wished they could stay there forever.

But eventually, the alarm rang and he couldn't ignore his obligations. He forced himself out of the bed and trudged to the bathroom. He took a two-minute shower, dressed in his work clothes, then brushed his teeth. He didn't bother with breakfast--he wasn't hungry. All he really wanted was a cigarette, but Hunk would smell the smoke, then lecture him for the rest of the day about how it would kill him.

He took Kosmo out to the apartment complex's crummy dog park because he knew he didn't have the energy to deal with peppy morning people with their peppy norming pups. While he waited for Kosmo to do his business, Keith glanced at the window to Shiro's apartment. Scratch that. He didn't want a smoke. He wanted Shiro. But Shiro had so many other problems, so dark and terrible he still wouldn't tell Keith what haunted him. Keith was meant to protect him, as many times as it took. Not the other way around.

It was bad enough Shiro had to patch him up on that last disastrous mission to find out about his mother.

Kosmo nudged Keith's leg.

Keith made a face as he took out his scooper.

--

Most days, taking his motorcycle to work soothed his nerves. But today was freezing cold, and it started snowing heavily while he was dealing with the morning rush. Chilled to the bone, Keith stood in front of the space heater and pretended that would be enough to warm him up.

The day only got worse. It was right after winter break, so every college student whose parents could afford to gift them with a fancy car was wanting a tune up. Boring work for boring people who gave Keith and Hunk dirty looks when they thought they weren't looking.

"Hurry up," the latest example in entitlement, a young man with well-groomed brown hair and immaculate clothes ordered Keith. "My family is waiting for me, you know!"

... That was it.

Keith ignored the man's sputtering as he stomped into the office. He didn't want to keep a cool head. He didn't want to breathe deeply. He--he just wanted--

"Keith, what the heck, man?!" Hunk was standing in the doorway. "Since when do you walk off the job?"

"Since I've been neck deep in brats eating up our time, your time, with maintenance checks that they don't need," Keith snarled at Hunk. "I'm tired of working for people who don't respect us." Back in high school, that would have scared him off.

But they were both twenty-five now, and Hunk just frowned. "Hey, I get it. I would much rather be video calling Matt about the new project. But late-stage capitalism doesn't care about our hopes and dreams."

Keith was too angry to trust himself talking at this point, so he glared down at his boots.

"... It's more than snobby customers, isn't it," Hunk realized. "Keith, none of that was your fault. You gotta realize--"

"Don't tell me what to do." Keith's voiced oozed venom at one of the few people who had always been kind to him, but he no longer cared. Hunk had crossed a line. "I still have some vacation days. I'm taking them now."

WHAT?! The customer screamed loud enough to filter through the office walls.

Hunk poked his head out the door. "Don't worry, James, I'll finish the tune up." He gazed at Keith, eyes big and sad, but mouth set firm. "Keith. If you don't wanna talk to me, fine. But please talk to Shiro."

Keith grabbed his jacket and helmet and sped off.

He waited until after dark to walk Kosmo again.

And he did that for the next two days.

Shiro didn't need his grief.

--

It was the day that he got up, and realized he didn't want to be in a world without his father in it that he realized he needed to call Shiro, and now.

He hated himself for how quickly he grabbed his phone after his morning ritual and caring for Kosmo, but if he didn't do it now, he never would.

"Hey, Keith!" If Shiro was made he hadn't talked to him lately, it didn't show. "I was actually about to head to the library to type you an email since my phone is literally a fossil. What's up, buddy?"

It hurt to talk, it hurt to breathe, but he managed to ask Shiro to come to spend the night.

"... Yes, yes, of course," Shiro said in the tone when you know something's gone horribly wrong, and you need to refocus your life to correct that wrong. "Just let me grab my toothbrush and a change of clothes."

I still have your spare toothbrush and some clothes that fit you. Just please be here now. But Keith thanked him and waited.

Shiro lived fifteen feet away from Keith, but it still felt like too long. Too long. Too many years of loneliness and "parents" who beat you even if you look at them funny, and kids who make fun of the orphan who couldn't afford clothes without holes in them.

"Keith."

Seeing Shiro in the doorway didn't magically erase every negative thought. But it was so, so much better than before.

Keith hugged him tightly. Everything was bad and rotten, except for Shiro.

--

"If you want to talk about it, I'm here."

Keith considered that as he finished off the pizza he'd ordered for them. He was still feeling crummy, but a full belly and roughly three hours of cuddling with Shiro had helped. "I don't know," he admitted and was relieved when Shiro didn't react to that. "It's still a raw wound. I'm always low this time of year."

"I understand." Shiro kissed the top of his head. "But my offer stands."

God, how could someone who'd been so hurt still be so good? Keith had been hurt, and he wasn't good at all.

"My dad died around this time." A fireman rushing in to save a family that was too poor to afford heating, and were using the stove and the burners. He'd saved the family, at the cost of his own life. "Right before Christmas."

"Oh, God, Keith, I'm so sorry." Shiro sounded like he was going to cry as he held Keith even closer. "If there's anything I can do--"

Keith held up a hand to Shiro's mouth. "Just listen. Like you promised."

"Always."

"I was never popular with the kids at school. They made fun of me for being poor, and the lack of a mom." Keith closed his eyes, remembering their tiny faces scrunched up in glee as they made the weird kid cry, again and again. "I think one especially creative girl told me that my mother ran out of the hospital when he saw my ugly face when I born."

"Ugh. I hope karma got her."

"Actually, she's a doctor now. I found this out when she requested to add me as a friend on Facebook. I declined, in case you're curious."

"Good boy." Shiro kissed his shoulder.

"Anyways, my first day back after grieving and being placed with my first foster family, one boy tells me that my dad died to get away from me. I responded by breaking his arm. I regret it."

"You were in a fragile state, Keith."

Keith laughed hollowly. "Thankfully, his mom felt the same way and didn't press charges. Of course, I was still kicked out of school and my new family was so terrified of me, I was dumped into another family." God, that family. That was something he wasn't ready to tell even Shiro just yet. "Things were... disruptive for a long time until I met Hunk and his family. They helped me declare my independence when I was seventeen. And then they let me live with them until Hunk moved out for college and wanted me to live with him in his new apartment so he wouldn't feel lonely."

"God, Keith," Shiro breathed, his chin on Keith's shoulder. "You're so strong."

"I don't feel strong right now. I ran from work."

"Trust me, Keith." There was something dark in Shiro's tone that made Keith still. "Sometimes running away is the bravest thing one can do."

Whatever it was, Keith didn't push. Shiro would tell him in his own time, as Keith did with Shiro.

--

The next day was Christmas Eve. It turned out that an old Gameboy was one of the few things Shiro hadn't had to sell off in whatever had happened to him, so they took turns dying in Super Mario Land.

Keith invited him to stay another night or two. Shiro happily accepted.

Christmas was spent sleeping in and watching the cheesiest specials they could find on Netflix. Keith didn't have anything "festive" in the house, but Shiro enjoyed the mac and cheese he made for them.

They shared a bed that night, but no more than that.

"I...I have a lot of scars from an accident," Shiro whispered, clad in nothing but a tanktop and sweatpants, his long hair strewn out on the pillow. The moonlight filtered in, making him look ethereal. "And my ex-boyfriend didn't handle them well. I know he was full of bull, but it still hurts. A lot." He took an unsteady breath, running his left hand up Keith's bare chest. "I still can't believe I managed to get this far with you." He smiled faintly. "No prosthetic, no overshirt. This is as much of me as I can give right now." The smile faded. "I do want to get further, one day."

"We'll get there," Keith promised, kissing him deeply. "Or not. This is more than okay."

--

On the morning of December 26, Keith was awakened by a text notification from Hunk: Shay and I were wondering if you were in the mood for some belated Christmas cheer? :D

"Shiro." Keith reached over Kosmo (who had somehow wedged between them during the night) to nudge his boyfriend. "Shiro. Are you cool with Hunk and Shay coming over?"

"Sure," Shiro rumbled sleepily, turning over on his stomach.

Keith typed in a lower-case 'y' before getting up to change and let out Kosmo.

--

"Hey," Hunk crooned as he glided into the apartment, wearing an expensive leather jacket that Shay must have gifted him. "We didn't want to end the holidays without saying hey to my bro and his babe."

Keith rolled his eyes.

Shiro smiled. "Well, as the aforementioned babe of the bro, I'm glad you could make it as well."

Shay smiled as she took two gifts out of her large lavender purse. "I do not wish to hear any negative comments about our deciding to bring gifts because you did not." Her tone was unusually stern. "Both of you gift us every day with your presence. Now, Shiro, we purchased you a smartphone, since I'm wary of your current one continuing to work."

Shiro looked down at the phone, pensive. "I appreciate it, but this must have been so expensive."

"Hush! Please respect my request!"

"'Sides," Hunk added, "Now you can watch Star Trek whenever you want."

"Hmm. Point taken." Shiro beamed at Shay, clasping her hand. "Thank you. Really. This... I'll always treasure it."

"Okay, time for Keith!" Hunk grinned wickedly. "I lucked out and found a Switch bundled with Smash Bros for you--"

"Okay, Hunk, return that right now. I know how expensive those are--"

"My current partner pays me well," Hunk reminded him. "' And now you can game with your friend whenever you want!"

"Keith?" Shiro glanced at him 'innocently.' "You're a gamer?"

"I'll tell you about it later. Better yet, come over next week and you can watch me play." Something told Keith that Shiro and Katie would get along.

Hunk put in the dinner he'd made to reheat before asking to talk to Keith in the bedroom.

Keith didn't want to, but he owed it to Hunk.

Any holiday cheer drained from Hunk's face when they were along. "Were you able to talk to Shiro about it?"

"... Yeah. And I'm sorry."

"You should be," Hunk snapped back. "I--we were all so scared, Keith."

"I know."

"You almost died, Keith!"

"I know," Keith said as Hunk grabbed him in a tearful hug. What else could he do?

 

"Okay, I got it out of my system." Hunk wiped at his eyes as he slowly drew away from the hug. "But please, Keith. Talk to me, or Shay, or Shiro, or even Ryan if he ever answers his phone."

Keith did his best to smile. "Okay."

--

Keith and Hunk played their video game while Shay talked to Shiro, all doing their best to balance their food and drinks on the coffee table since Keith's kitchen was too small for the four of them. Hunk had tried scolding Shiro for sneaking Kosmo bits of the dinner but eventually gave up.

It was warm and bright and loud.

And for that year at least, the bad memories intertwined with the holidays for Keith were just that.

--

Final Notes: Hunk and Keith's friendship means a lot to me. It was one of the best parts of the series Yes, even S8--it was one of the few bright points of S8. So I try to include whenever I can. As you may have guessed, we are slowly inching into angsty backstories, but since this is a super indulgent AU, no one is going to be miserable forever.

James has appeared! I don't know if he's going to show up more, but obviously, he would learn to be less awful if he does lol.

Chapter Text

Title: A World for You and Me (11/?)
Fandom: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Characters/Pairing: Shiro/Keith
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, anything mentioned here by name isn't mine
Warnings: Past child abuse, attempted kidnapping, brief suicidal ideation. Yeah, this is kind of a heavy chapter.
Notes: Despite the warnings, this is primarily Sheith fluff/some comfort for Keith after how he's been feeling.

--

After Christmas, Shiro became more protective.

Not in a bad way. Keith certainly wasn't complaining when Shiro wrapped an arm around his shoulders when they were together, or how there was more steel in his voice when he asked Keith if he needed help with the daily chores and errands of his life. If it hadn't been for that incident right before the holidays, Keith would have assumed Shiro was just becoming more confident in their relationship.

But it had happened, and it complicated things. Because Keith refused to burden Shiro, someone who still hadn't fully healed from pain so deep he couldn't even speak it. He needed Keith to protect him.

But he was selfish and kept agreeing when Shiro offered to help.

He was so selfish.

--

"Found it!" Shiro pumped up his left fist in victory when they finally spotted the one brand of dog food Kosmo would eat at the very end of the pet food aisle at the local Safeway. "They only have it in jumbo size, though. Is that okay?"

Keith did some mental math. It would hurt when he saw the receipt today, but it'd pay off in the long run. "Yeah. Lemme just grab it--"

Shiro held up his metal hand. "Your shoulder's bugging you, remember?"

... Why had he complained about that on the ride there? Because he'd flinched at a flare-up of pain when he opened Hunk's car door for Shiro, and Shiro had asked, and Keith had whined about his freaking shoulder for the rest of the ride. "Shiro, I'm fine--"

"And I'm built for heavy lifting," Shiro said as he stretched. "Just give me a sec." He squatted, pulled, and the prosthetic creaked.

It was going to fall apart--"Shiro, stop!"

He hadn't realized how loud he was until Shiro looked at him, eyes wide. The girl stocking selves mirrored his expression.

"I'm sorry," Keith said, fighting to keep his tone neutral. "But there was some sound of strain coming from your prosthetic."

"Yeah. That's because it's old, and it gets a little creaky sometimes," Shiro said as he stood up again. "I know how it works, Keith. I wouldn't do something foolish."

Face burning in shame, Keith looked away.

"Keith, please look at me."

He couldn't.

"This is more than just panicking that I was going to mess up my prosthetic, isn't it?"

"No. Yes. Kind of." Keith stared angrily at store brand cat shampoo. "I don't. I don't want you to feel like you need to take care of me."

"Why not?" Shiro wasn't angry. Somehow, that made things worse.

"Because you--you need someone to--"

"To protect me, is that right?" He still wasn't angry, but there was a weariness to his tone Keith had never heard before, not even when Shiro was at his lowest.

"... Yes."

Shiro placed his prosthetic hand on Keith's left shoulder. Distantly, Keith realized Shiro was making sure he didn't aggravate the older injury his right one had suffered the last time he had visited Grandfather Kolivan. "Keith, please understand that your seeing me as someone with value, someone worthy of love has changed my life. But I had a boyfriend a few years ago who... after my accident, treated me like I couldn't make any decisions on my own without his 'guidance.'"

He was astonished that Shiro was sharing something from his past... and sick that he was making Shiro relive that. "Shiro," he said, finally looking up at him. How could he be so calm, when Keith was fighting not to fall apart in front of the stock girl trying to do her job and also not intrude? "I never meant to do that."

"I know. There's a big difference between what you do and what he did." Shiro smiled bitterly. "And don't get me wrong, if I'm ever kidnapped by aliens or something I would want you to rescue me. But Keith," and he cupped Keith's chin so gently. "I like what we have together. How we help each other. And since I want it to continue, I'm just gonna say it now: I'm not made of glass. And you don't have to be a rock."

The stock girl long forgotten, Keith melted into Shiro, one hand reaching up to stroke his long, dark hair. He wasn't good at talking, so he hoped this would be enough.

Shiro pulled him close. "So, how about I get the dog food so Kosmo doesn't eat us in our sleep?"

Keith laughed breathlessly at that. "Yeah, okay."

The prosthetic did creak again, but that was the only sign of stress as Shiro plopped the last thing on their grocery list into the cart.

"Hey," Keith said to the stock girl on their way to check out. "Sorry about that."

"No worries," the stock girl said coolly. Her badge read Leifsdottir. "You aren't the first couple to experience conflict during my shift today, and statistically, you won't be the last."

"Oh."

--

"Thank goodness Hunk lends us his car for big shopping trips," Shiro mused as the snow came down harder. "I like the freedom a motorcycle gives you, but the car roof and the heater are a godsend today."

"Hm." Those were nice, but it was also nice to have Shiro at his side, glancing at him when they were at red lights.

He liked what they had as well. He wanted it to keep going.

And that would require more than just protection when needed. It required honesty.

"Shiro. I know you said you wanted to try to clean your apartment today, but would you like to stay over for dinner first?"

"Well, yes." Shiro smiled at him. "I don't suppose I could convince you to make flatbread pizzas?"

Keith grinned as he turned onto the road that eventually led to their apartment complex. "You saw that mozzarella cheese I got?"

"I always zero in on cheese, Keith."

"Okay, flatbread pizza it is." And the truth.

Every last ugly facet of it.

--

"It's beautiful," Shiro said as Keith place Shiro's serving in front of him. "Everything is, really." Keith did his best to make his tiny kitchen intimate. The lights are off and the candles are lit. Kosmo shuffling around the house negates the image a bit, however.

"I'm glad you like it," Keith said as he cracked open his soda.

They eat, and Shiro talked about the pizza and Kosmo. Keith built his courage.

"I was thinking," he began. "About helping each other."

Shiro put his soda down. "I was, yes."

"I... I should explain what was going on during Christmas."

Shiro gazed at him levelly. "Only if you feel up to discussing it, Keith."

"I am." To his surprise, it wasn't a lie. "I told you before about the foster homes I grew up in. A lot of them were abusive." It was strange, saying it out loud aside from the couple of therapists he'd tried back when Hunk was still in undergrad. "The worst homes were the second one and the last one. The second ones beat me so bad I had to go to the hospital, one time."

Shiro's eyes were shining with tears, but he didn't say anything. It was a relief.

"The last one, though... it's a long story." How could he even begin? "It wasn't too bad, at first. The mom worked a lot and the dad watched TV all day. They left me alone. Until the dad started having fights with the mom and took it out me--but he was smarter than the pasts families. He made sure to hit me where no one would see. And no one's gonna believe a punk with a record over a decent member of the community, right?"

Shiro was silent but took his hand.

"I didn't see any way out of it. Not until I turned eighteen. But then one day, I came home and the dad was talking to this big guy--about a head taller than you--in all black. He had on a mask, too.

Now Shiro spoke. "What did you do?"

"Like any sensible person when a masked stranger is in your home, I made a run for it--or at least I tried to. The dad hit me... really hard in the head, and locked me in my room." He took a breath, feeling where that monster in the shape of a man had struck him. It was healed, but there was still a patch of a scar, hidden under his hair. "I won't lie. For a moment there, I thought about just giving up. The universe had wanted me dead for so long, it seemed like it was only polite to stop struggling against it. But as he dragged me into the room, I thought about how Ryan and Hunk would miss me at school tomorrow, and I fought back."

"How?"

Keith smirked. "I pickpocketed his phone. I texted Hunk and Ryan. They got me out, then called the police." A head injury was something no one could ignore.

It'd been a cold December day. The window had a fancy computer lock (Keith had thought his foster father had "just" been paranoid that Keith would sneak out the week before he'd put them up), but there was no computer Hunk couldn't reprogram. They were all silent as the dead as Ryan slipped in, helped Keith up, and Hunk pulled them out the window.

Thankfully, they were also his neighbors, so the escape to Hunk's house had been quick.

Ryan had kissed him twice. Once on the cheek, and then on the mouth. It had surprised Keith in his haze because Ryan wasn't the type of guy who did PDAs. But not only had he kissed him but Ryan also stroked his face with his hands, gently whispering to him it was okay, the ambulance would be here soon. Hunk tearfully explaining everything to his parents in the kitchen.

"I'm glad you did," Shiro's grip tightened on his hand.

I think you know everything at that point. The police arrested the dad, but the man in black was long gone. Hunk's mom's aunt is a lawyer, so she helped me get stuff together so I could declare myself as independent."

There. He did it.

He told Shiro everything.

He wanted to tell Shiro everything.

He... he...

He was trying to put his dishes away, so Shiro wouldn't see him cry, but a sob forced itself out of him. The next thing he knew, Shiro was hugging him tightly, and all the crying he didn't do that night was happening now, secure in Shiro's arms.

--

Shiro did the dishes and blew out the candles that night, and Keith was grateful, taking the chance to rest on the couch and pet his dog. It was so strange. He'd never felt comfortable talking about what had happened to anyone--not even Ryan and Hunk, and they had been there. The few times Hunk brought it up like during the holidays, he'd kept the conversation as brief as he could. But now... all this time, he felt like he needed to protect Shiro, but it wasn't until Shiro sat next to him--not judging, not trying to make it magically better--that he felt he could be vulnerable enough to talk about what was in the top five for the worst days of his life.

"Hey," Shiro said as he stepped from the bedroom, in one of the Hunk's many leftover shirts.

Keith grimaced. "Sorry about the marinara sauce on your shirt." The panic and the hug had come so quickly together, the dirty plate had been smushed between them.

"A small price to pay." He sat down next to Keith, face serious. "Do you want me to spend the night? Cleaning my apartment can wait for a few hours."

"... Yes. Please."

--

He woke up in the morning, a few minutes before his alarm. Shiro wrapped around him. Kosmo was curled up in a ball next to the bed.

He assessed how he felt. Still like he wanted to rip off his skin. After a moment, he called Hunk.

"Hey, bro."

"Hey, Hunk. Um. Do you mind if I. You know, take a mental health day?"

"Sure," Hunk said gently. "Always. I'm just glad that you're not trying to work through it every year like you did before."

"Yeah. I am, too. Call me if there's an emergency at work. Love you, too. Bye."

He curled back into Shiro, letting him shield Keith from the world.

--

Final Notes: Originally the next chapter was going to be a lighter one, but I realized I wanted to explain some of the things I hinted at with the Hunk and Keith conversation in the last chapter a little more.

Was the man in black Sendak? Yes. More on that later. (Also, hello, Leifsdottir. Hopefully, I'll find a way to squeeze her in some more.)

And hopefully the next chapter will be lighter and more fun. I guess we'll all find out eventually -_-

(And yes, I know I had them eat pizza in the last chapter, but I love pizza. Pizza power.)