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Midnight Crusade

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The ground was moist where Lance sat, grass tickling exposed parts of his legs and hands that rested upon it. Night was still daunting as ever, even with various string and fairy lights hung up around Allura’s back patio to offer illumination, the darkness still crept up to the edge of property. Lance sat there and watched it, as if waiting for something to form from the darkness and leap at him, but the night was still.

Allura assured them that her house was under a protection and they had no need to worry. Pidge of course was suspicious at first, the youngest friend obviously still shaken from the earlier, and Hunk stayed with them for comfort reasons. Lance on the other hand decided he needed some fresh air and decided to sit outside, despite everyone's protests besides Allura. She assured once again that he would be fine as he didn’t cross the barrier, which was marked by small gray stones embedded in the ground, creating a large circle around the witch's house and surrounding area. The blue eyed boy sat a few feet from a few of the stones, unfocused eyes still watching the tree line and waited.

Shuffling from behind him made his panic spike, the boy not rationally thinking about who it could be and immediately assuming the worst. The steps stopped at once, rather abruptly to be honest, and was followed by a quick breath. Lance wasn’t too quick to check and see who it was.

“I’m sorry.” Keith spoke when blue met red, amber eyes wide with what almost looked like guilt. “I didn’t mean to startle you.” The vampire says again, voice shy almost as he stands a little bit away from Lance. “You’ve been out here a while.”

“Really?” The boy asks, a little surprised by the statement. “I… Wow.” Lance spoke, feeling like he had come out her only about fifteen or so minutes ago. “How long?”

Keith began approaching again, the shuffling picking up as his feet brushed against thick blades of grass before the vampire stood next to Lance. There was an awkward moment, as if Keith wasn’t sure if he should sit down or not, amber eyes averting from blue ones as he finally began his descent to the ground. “An hour or so. Sunrise is only a couple hours away.” The vampire finally says, pulling knees to his chest.

Even without vampire powers, Lance could sense there was something more picking at Keith, and it didn’t take long for Lance to figure it out. “Do you think me being… Do you think that’s why?” He asked, skirting around saying the exact words, whether it be for his sake for the sake of others hearing.

Amber eyes were pulled to blue at that, Keith looking rather surprised that Lance was able to decipher what he was thinking. Luckily, he didn’t dwell on it. “Maybe… But would that affect your blood? Your body is human, isn’t it?”

Something flashed across Lance’s face, skin going rather pale as blue eyes widened slightly. “Your body was human at one point, wasn’t it?” The boys question was asked in a low voice, as if it was a secret of some sort.

Keith responded at first with equal wide eyes, a shot of pain going off inside of Lance’s chest as he watched what had to be the same feeling flash across those same amber eyes. “At one point.” The vampire says in an equally low voice, only his words sounded much more hollow. “But not anymore.” The boy averted his eyes, choosing to look at a fascinating patch of dead grass rather then Lance.

For some reason, those words struck something deep inside of Lance’s chest, pain and guilt washing up in waves as he watched the vampire next to him. “I want to know about your past.”

Amber eyes shot up to blue, a mixture of confusion, anger, fear, and something Lance couldn’t describe flooded red eyes as Keith looked to him. It was as if the vampire was an emotions radio and Lance was a receiver, picking up every feeling that came across the vampire in front of him. All those emotions that took over Keith’s eyes quickly had a hold on Lance, the boy feeling strange and devastated. What the hell was happening?

“Why?” Keith simply asked, as if not wanting to let anything else slip as amber and blue stayed focused on one another. Fear moved between then, the feeling making Lance’s stomach churn.

Still, the boy managed to take in a breath. “I don’t know.” Lance answered honestly, receiving a look of confusion from Keith. “Because I know nothing of my own. Not really. I mean I know my past but...” The words were hollow yet true, the boy feeling lost after learning of what he was. What he is.

It was as if Keith had wanted to say something, but instead he stopped, taking in a breath and closing his eyes. “What do you want to know?” The vampire asks quietly, eyes still closed.

“What was your family like?” Of course he would ask about this first, as Lance was always involved with his own family and wondered what kind of upbringing Keith had. So far he had only heard one story about getting a Christmas tree with his family, which Lance will never forget how happy the vampire looked when talking about it.

Keith let out a sigh, extending legs into the grass and planting hands behind him so he could support himself with his arms. “I don’t remember.” The vampire answered after a quiet moment, yet he words made Lance sit up more, a look of confusion. “It’s been a couple hundred years since I was with my family… and I was only seven when I was taken…”

Even though Lance stayed quiet, he couldn’t help but made a small sound of surprise. Taken when he was seven? By who? Keith looked like he was in his late teens, maybe really twenties, so it’s not like he was turned into a vampire when he was seven. Lance wanted to know more, but he wasn’t ready to scare the vampire away with his plethora of questions. Honestly, he was surprised Keith was even answering his questions at all. “Is there really nothing?” He asks, letting the words quietly slip out.

As blue eyes looked over to the vampire, amber eyes focused on the forest in front of them, trees sprouting high in the sky, the trunk loaded with branches and leafs that made it hard to see very far into the woods. “We lived in a small village in Texas.” Keith begins with a low voice, as if not wanting anyone else to hear. Lance even leaned in slightly. “It was only my dad, my mom and me. I remember there being cows and horses in the fields around the house, so we probably lived on a Ranch or something. My mom was always out with him in the fields, I stayed at home a lot…” The vampire goes quiet for a moment before amber eyes moved to blue. “I do remember riding on horses with my dad, he wore a cowboy hat, but not ironically like people do today.”

“You dad was a real cowboy, huh?” Lance asked, a grin spreading across his face as he thought about baby Keith on horseback living in the wild Texas. For some reason, it almost seemed right that he was from there.

“Yeah…” Keith lets his voice veer off as he looked back to the woods. “My mom took care of the house and us, but she was an even better rancher then my dad. I remember people in the village looked up to her.” It was surprising that the vampire was still going, and Lance was eating up every last bit of it. “My mom wanted to teach me to fight, I remember hearing them argue about it one night.”

“Argue?” Lance pipes up, unable to hold back his curiosity and need to say something. The boy quickly shut his mouth and covered it with his hands.

The vampire nodded, not seeming bothered with the way Lance interrupted. “My dad thought I was still too young, that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. My mom thought I was ready, as she began learning at my age.” Keith moved to bring his legs in, crossing them before leaning forward and using legs to support his arms, fingers draping at both of his outer thighs. “I was surprised when my mom actually backed down, but then again my dad said something to her that I never heard… that’s what made her stop.” Lance could feel the dread and agony seeping out of Keith. His heart stung when amber eyes met blue, those same feelings welling up inside red orbs. “Why am I telling you this?”

Blue eyes went wide, race heating up as Lance was suddenly the focus, the question also making his chest tighten. He swallowed the lump in his throat. “I don’t know. Do I make you feel comfortable… or safe?” It was odd asking, Lance honestly wasn’t even sure why he asked, but he knew that was how he felt when they were together. At the lodge, in Pidges apartment, and even now, Lance just felt safe with Keith, he felt comfortable.

An expression crossed the vampires face, almost like shock or realization, amber eyes staying focused on blue, despite the way the gaze flickered between two blue orbs. The expression quickly changed to disbelief, mouth opening as if to speak, but only a breath was passed as Keith looked at Lance. “You do.” The vampire finally said, pulling amber eyes away and back to the forest. “I like talking to you. It’s weird.”

Lance laughs, unexpectedly of course, and pulls amber eyes back to him. “Why does it have to be weird?”

“Because I don’t talk to people. I don’t really talk to Shiro.” Keith confesses, gaze moving back to the forest, as if he was feeling weird right now. “But I like talking to you.”

“I like hearing you talk.” Lance says without thinking, amber eyes snapping to his, making him realize what he just said. Red creeps up his cheeks until his whole face is scarlet. “I-I meant like I like hearing about your past and listening to you kind of thing.” The boy rushes out, feeling like a complete idiot for letting that slip out. It’s not like he liked hearing the vampires voice. Nope. Definitely not. Maybe. What?

Keith just looks at Lance with a gentle expression, one that the blue eyed boy was not expecting. He could swear he also saw some kind of smile pull at the vampires lips. “There’s not anything else though. Like I said, I don’t remember much about my past.”

“What about after you got taken?” Lance asked, instantly regretting it as that gentle expression turned much colder, as if he was trying to shut off his expressions so his emotions wouldn’t come across. Still, Lance could feel emotions pass through them like before, with fear, despair, and rage stirred together. “I-I’m sorry-.”

“They destroyed my village…” Keith cut the boy off, blue eyes going wide as much hung open. It was even more surprising when the vampire continued. “Zarkon and his vampires came to our village and killed everyone… except for the children. We were all taken.” Keith stops, whether it be for himself or for Lance to take in what he said it. “They used us as meals, drinking from us but not killing us, making sure we could replenish our blood before drinking from us again. It was their own farm.” The vampires voice was low as he spoke, fingers pulling grass from the ground absently. “I was there for years… Zarkon favored me for some reason, I still don’t know why. He already had Shiro at that point, so when he turned me I wasn’t completely alone.”

“How long were you there?” Lance asked, unsure as to why he asking and not just letting the boy continue.

Still, Keith replied. “Almost eleven years. It wasn’t by choice that Zarkon turned me, but in order to save my life. Another vampire had gone too far and nearly killed me, Zarkon killed that vampire and turned me. After that… it was another few hundred years before Shiro and I left.” The vampire had fallen silent, fingers frozen in grass as red eyes were focused on the torn green. “More like escaped, but Zarkon never really came after us, or at least made us come back. He always knew where we were, that’s his thing. We could never run away from him, he’s simply letting us live where we want.”

Lance didn’t know what to say, sitting there silently as blue eyes watched the vampire, eyes and chest stinging as every word was spoke. This poor boy, ripped away from his family and forced to live a horrible, cruel life. Fingers dug into the fabric of his jacket as he tried to keep himself calm. That didn’t seem to matter as he could see Keith sensing his tension building up underneath the boys skin.

“Come on blue eyes, don’t be getting so upset. It didn’t happen to you.” The vampire spoke casually, but it struck a cord deep within Lance.

“But it happened to you!” The blue eyed boy yelled, moving from his sitting position to almost a kneeling one as he turned towards Keith. It was almost like all that tension, the anger and grief he felt just burst out of him. “How can I not get upset about it?”

Keith looked shocked, amber eyes wide as the vampire had one arm up in between them as if to defend himself out of instinct, the other arm supporting his weight as he leaned away. Lips were apart, mouth hanging open and fangs becoming prevalent. As if at the perfect time the sky cleared, clouds passing to allow moonlight to flood the yard, Keith becoming illuminated with the silver light. Lance couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the vampire was in that moment, a ruby blush ghosting on pale cheeks. “It’s not like you knew me.” He spoke, voice barely a whisper.

“I know you now Keith!” Lance responded with a sharp voice, not wanting to yell with the close proximity, but not wanting to lose the power to his voice. “Do you not get that? Just because I didn’t know you back then doesn’t mean anything!”

It was like Keith was in shock, staring back at blue eyes with wide amber ones, unable to form a reply or respond. The vampire simply couldn’t comprehend why Lance cared, and Lance couldn’t grasp that. Of course he would have feeling about what happened in Keith’s past! What kind of stupid thing to assume that he wouldn’t be affected by hearing about it.

“I guess… I just never had anyone to care.” Keith admits, allowing himself to sit back in his regular position, legs pulled to his chest.

Lance gave the vampire an odd look. “What about Shiro?”

“He’s been with me through everything, he different. We’re both from the same sire, it makes us like brothers. But… I still can’t confide in him.” Keith almost sounded ashamed, Lance pulling himself back to sit in his legs, hands resting in his lap. “Shiro’s been dealing with his own pain, he doesn’t need mine too.”

“I doubt he would feel the same.” The blue eyed boy wanted to reach out and comfort the vampire, but he didn’t want to ruin the moment or make it uncomfortable. He decided to keep his hands in his lap.

Keith shook his head, fingers digging into the fabric of dark jeans. “No… Shiro had it worse than me. I can’t complain to him.”

Defeat was all Lance felt for a moment as he looked at the vampire, frame seeming small in the slowly dimming moonlight. “Then complain to me.” He blurt out, the sentence passing his ‘should I say this’ filter and flowing into the world. Red covers his face.

Slowly, amber eyes meet blue ones, a look of disbelief on the vampires face. “Lance…” From the corner of his eye, the boy could swear he saw Keith’s hand move.

“Keith! Lance!” A voice comes abruptly, shattering whatever atmosphere was surrounding them and bringing them back to the harsh reality of what was happening. Blue eyes look to the back door of Allura’s house, Hunk standing in the doorway. “Come inside! We’re about to talk!”

The words send shivers down Lance’s spine. What could they possibly be talking about now? He wasn’t sure he could handle anymore angel talk for the rest of the night.

“It’ll be okay.” The words come to Lance from in front of him, blue eyes snapping back to a much gentler pair of amber ones. He could swear he felt his heart stutter within his chest. What a teenager. “We’re here for you.”

Lance smiled, something pulling at his chest as that was not the combination of words he wanted to hear, but still there was more to the way Keith looked at him. The vampire stood, Lance following shortly after and heading back inside, wiping off his ass so no grass would find it way inside. That and so Pidge wouldn’t make fun of him for having a grassy ass.

When they entered the house, there was a complete atmosphere shift, an intense, determined aura seeming to fill the room and surround everyone in it. Lance was a little overwhelmed by it at first, coming from being in such a calm and little depressive state. Still, he took his seat in between Pidge and Hunk on the couch while Keith took residence in the stool next to Shiro.

“How are you doing Lance?” Allura asks as she sits in a bean bag like chair across from the couch, hands resting on her crossed knees. The boy only nodding as he wasn’t really in the mood to speak, which was very unusual for Lance. The witch picked up on that, returning the nod and quickly changing the subject. “We’ve put together a plan as we need to get the five of you to the Blades of Luna as possible.”

“Who?” Lance asks, leaning over to Pidge as the name went over his head.

“Apparently the group of vampires you were shacking it up with in the cabin.” Pidge teases, receiving a swift jab in the side that made them burst with a squeal. “Hey!”

“Sorry about that! Continue.” Lance brushes Pidge off, literally swatting away at their face as he looks to Allura.

A gentle smile passes her lips as she nods. “A few hours after sunrise we will take the five of you back out to the cabin where the Blades are currently hiding.” It was as if Allura knew Lance was about to ask. “Yes I said sunrise, as that will be the safest way to transport you all back to the cabin. Once you leave the barrier I’ve created around my home, Zarkon will be able to track you until you’ve reached the barrier surrounding the Blades. Vampires can easily outrun a car, but they can’t outrun the sun.”

“What about Shiro and Keith?” Lance asks, taking the chance to ask during Allura’s pause. She was more than likely going to get to that, but Lance was impatient.

With a soft breath, Allura continued. “We will shroud them in blankets and covers as to limit the sun rays that get them, but even fabric can’t protect vampire skin. Luckily metal can, so as long as they are completely hidden by the metal, they should be fine. Meaning, Shiro and Keith will have to hide in the trunks of the cars while you drive back to the cabin.”

“Are you not coming?” The blue eyed boy managed out again during a break, concern leaking into his words.

“Not yet, I have to run the cafe today, since three of my best workers are currently missing.” The soft expression that had been on the womens face quickly sharpened, showing just how annoyed with this situation she was. “And now I have vampires sniffing around too, so I have to set more protections around the cafe as well.”

All three of the friends felt the womens sting, guilt and shame filling the trio as if the women was punishing them, which in a sense she was. They hated being yelled at by Allura, because when she got scary, she got scary. “We’re sorry.” The trio spoke at once, as if they all were in sync when it came to this kind of thing.

With a breath, the women seemed to calm. “Not to worry, this would have happened whether you had gotten involved or not. Since you are involved it makes it a little easier to keep an eye on you, but at the same time, it makes it a lot harder now that a vampire lord has his eyes on you.” The last part was pointed towards Lance, guilt instantly flooding him as he remembers all the times he’s had a runin with Zarkon. A few too many. “But again, he would have found you eventually as all powerful vampires are pulled to strong prey.”

“That makes me feel great Allura.” Lance complained, pointing a glare at the women, only to receive one back. “So what do we do after we get there?”

“The Blades have that part of the plan already thought out.” Shiro steps in, seeming to take over when the conversation shifted more towards his territory. “They want to infiltrate an upcoming event held annually for still living royal vampires. It’s a ball of sorts, kind of like they’re reminiscing on the days vampires thrived, but Zarkon should be there, as he’s been to almost every ball that I can remember.”

“I remember those.” Keith’s voice comes out quietly, and it’s almost like Lance is the only one who heard it, blue eyes moving over to the vampire, a sad and empty feeling emitting from him, hitting Lance like harsh waves. The boy clings to the fabric of the couch to keep himself steady.

“The Blades plan to launch an attack then, not only to take out Zarkon but as many royals as possible. Only the royals who pride themselves in the old ways attend the ball, so it’s going to be full of cold-blooded monsters.” The way Shiro spoke seemed a little cold itself, as if the vampire held a grudge towards these royal vampires, which he more than likely did.

“You three as well as myself will be at the cabin during this, as it is the safest option.” Allura chimes in, as if sensing Lance was about to ask where they would be during this process. “If all goes according to plan, we can all return to life as usual in Altea as if nothing has happened.”

Lance sat there with those words bouncing around in his head. It wasn’t his doing when blue met with amber. Life as usual? That seemed much too boring compared to now. “When do we start this plan then?” The blue eyed boy asked, moving irises to violet ones.

Allura seemed a little surprised that Lance was just ready to follow the plan, not a lot of questions asked. “As I said, a few hours after sunrise. Shiro and Keith should rest now as well as the three of you, we have a long drive ahead of us.”