The bustling crowd and loud carnival music were starting to get on his nerves, but Shiro couldn't say no to Pidge and Matt. They had been talking about this for months, something about a freakshow? He hadn't been listening. Shiro didn't truly care about seeing people in costumes pretending to be poor, disfigured souls put on display for the public.
They pulled him along, stopping at different booths and food stands. Shiro just rolled his eyes, picking at his snack he bought from some guy dressed like a clown. Carnivals just, weren't his thing. Neither were circuses. He wasn't scared of anything, no, they just made him uneasy. Especially this particular group, apparently run by some schmuck named Sendak. Shiro saw him walking around, talking to different employees, and he did not like the looks of him.
He excused himself from Matt's rambling about the physics to winning the ball toss, and started wandering between the tents. In truth, he was trying to find a way to sneak out without the Holt's noticing right away. Shiro grumbled when he wandered into another tent, kicking at the dirt. Just as he turned around to leave, a small noise caught his attention.
Shiro blinked, turning back to the darkness of the tent. "Hello?"
What was he thinking? No one would be in here, and he might get in trouble for or something for snooping around. He fished his phone out of his pocket and turned on it's flashlight, blinking again at the metal bars towards the back of the tent. He tiptoed closer, shining his light into the cage.
"What the fuck?" Shiro breathed, eyes wide, staring at the thing huddled in the corner. They were- they were purple . People weren't purple. It didn't even look like makeup, and Shiro felt his stomach flip when he finally saw the shackles and the raised marks on their back.
"H-hey. Are you, are you ok?" he moved closer to the bars, inhaling sharply when their head shot up, eyes gleaming like a cats. Shiro swallowed thickly as they tracked his movements when he walked close enough to touch the bars.
"Oh, man…is- is that a muzzle? " Shiro felt his blood start to boil. This didn't seem like a circus act, and his heart dropped when they nodded slowly.
Shiro looked them over, taking in their yellow sclera and deep purple irises, their tail and ears. Like a cat, he thought.
"Can- can you come closer? I-" he trailed off. What was he supposed to do? His breath caught in his throat when they tried to move closer, almost obedient. Shiro could count their ribs, and his blood boiled when they wobbled and almost collapsed when the chains pulled back.
Shiro chewed at his bottom lip, looking around for a key or something to bust the locks.
"Is there a key? Can you tell me where it is?" He looked to them, frowning when they slowly moved back to their corner. Shiro could see the trembling that shook their frame. Now that he was truly paying attention, why was it so cold in this tent?
Shiro could feel their eyes on him as he searched through everything in the tent, but he managed to find a set of keys.
"I found keys, just, hang on-" he flinched when they lunged, pointing towards the entrance to the tent. Shiro froze, hearing footsteps approaching. He quickly found a hiding spot behind a stack of boxes. He didn't wait to see who it was, silently promising the creature he would return.
Shiro ignored the calls from the Holt's, already back at the carnival. The moon was high, the keys he had found safely tucked into his pocket. Sneaking back into the carnival was easy, no one was on guard or whatever it was they did to protect what they had. Or, maybe they didn't need to. Most people tended to stay away from things like this at night time.
He was as quiet as he could be, slinking between the tents and listening to the employees drink and talk loudly in the other tents. Shiro didn't care what they were talking about. Did they even know about the cage? And if they did, why the fuck would they let this continue?
Shiro managed to find the tent, thankful no one was watching it. He fumbled with his phone in the dark, but he eventually turned the flash light on and pointed it towards the cage.
He almost dropped the phone seeing the state they were in.
Bloodied, bruised, lacking the clothing they had on during the day.
"Fuck." Shiro swore under his breath, quickly getting the keys from his pocket. It took a bit, but he found the right one and threw the door open. They weren't shackled this time, but the muzzle was still on them.
"Hey," Shiro breathed out, keeping quiet despite his growing panic. "Hey, can you hear me?"
No response, they were barely breathing. Shiro swore again, slipping off his hoodie and wrapping it around them. He gathered their limp form to his chest, and quickly left the carnival.
It was too easy, but Shiro didn't care. He ran with them all the way back to the house he shared with his friends. They would still be out celebrating with Lance on his and Allura's engagement.
Shiro didn't stop until he was in his bathroom, sinking to the floor with an unconscious creature in his arms. He blinked, looking them over when it all sunk in.
He just kidnapped someone. He just kidnapped someone and brought them home.
"Damnit, Takashi, what the hell are you thinking…" he took a deep breath, and looked back down at them again. They looked pained, face twisted and restless. Shiro felt the dampness seeping into his hoodie, but he hoped it wasn't blood. It probably was.
He jumped a little when his phone went off, and he quickly looked at the screen. Allura. That's right, she wasn't going to Lance's party. He pressed it to his ear, hands shaking.
"Shiro? Hey, are you ok? You sound, off. What's wrong?" Allura automatically went into worry mode, and that eased his panic, just a fraction.
"I, I need you to come home. As fast as you can. I uh, I might have just done something incredibly stupid…."
There was a pause. "Ok. Ok, I'm on my way."
"Alright. And, bring some medical supplies." He hung up before she could ask him any more questions.
What the fuck was he thinking?
Tags have been updated.
"Ok….ok, first, get the muzzle off…" Shiro muttered to himself as he gently sat the creature on the floor, turning them onto their side to get at the clasps at the back of their head. He paled at the blood already soaked into his hoodie.
"Fuck.." he was quick with the clasps, slowly taking the muzzle off their face. He hissed when it stuck to their skin, grimacing at the damage to their cheek. Shiro sent Allura a text that he would be in the bathroom before he noticed the collar. He cursed under his breath, realizing he left the keys at the carnival. Shiro wouldn't be able to remove the shackles or the collar-
His head shot up when the bathroom door opened.
She stared, eyes wide and jaw dropped, but she quickly shook her head and knelt next to them.
"Start the shower, keep it warm but not too hot." Allura had immediately gone into paramedic mode, and Shiro thanked every deity that would listen for her.
He did as he was told, turning back to her and watching as she turned their head slowly.
"Weak pulse...how on Earth are they still alive?" She frowned deeply at the various wounds on them. "Have they said anything?"
"No, they- Allura they were chained up and muzzled in a cage-" Shiro stopped rambling when she gave him a look.
"Pick them up, we need to clean their wounds. I'll help."
Shiro gathered them back up in his arms, moving under the shower spray and sitting down. The water didn't even make them stir.
"Should- shouldn't the water wake them up?"
"It- is concerning. But, we can address that later."
Allura worked in silence, gently washing them down while Shiro held them. With the blood and grime being washed away, Shiro could finally make out the lighter purple markings they had, and the snow white hair that was much longer than he thought.
Shiro maneuvered them as Allura dried them off and wrapped their wounds, stretching a bit before she stood.
"I'll get a pair of Lance's pajama pants for them…" she looked them over curiously. "Hopefully they wake up soon. I'm not even sure if their male or female…"
Allura helped get them dressed, putting one of Shiro's hoodies on them and laying them in his bed. He watched the stuttering rise and fall of their chest, jumping a little when he cat leaped onto the bed.
"Hey, Black…" Shiro rubbed her head softly and chuckled a little when she curled up against their side, purring loudly. "Ok, watch over them for me. I'll be back.."
He woke up warm, and on something soft. Which was odd, but not unwelcome. Keith turned his head to the sound of purring, a surge of hope filling his chest, but when he managed to crack his eyes open all he found was a cat. He recognized the animal from the books his father would read to him when he was a kit. Keith liked cats.
Just as he went to pet the creatures fur, he blinked. The, chains were gone. He shot upright, choking on a gasp as pain burned through his torso. Keith looked down at himself, eyebrows shooting up. What- where did these clothes come from? He picked at them, careful of his claws, and lifted the bottom hem of the fabric. White and red tinged bandages wrapped around his thin frame, which confused him even further as to where he was. Sendak didn't bother wrapping him up. Ever.
Keith finally looked around, feeling the blood drain from his face. A bedroom. It was one of those games Sendak liked to play with him-
He froze when the door opened.
"Oh-" the human stopped, entering the room more slowly. "I didn't expect you to be awake yet."
Keith pinned his ears back. A human male, tall and well built. He could, he could easily overpower Keith. But, the more Keith looked at him, the more he thought there was something familiar about the human.
"Are the clothes alright? We, uh, didn't know what else would fit you…" the human trailed off, carefully sitting on the edge of the bed.
'....we..?' Keith gripped at the blanket in his lap. There was more than one human. Sendak hadn't done this to him- in a long while. What had he done? He must have done something wrong to be punished again so soon.
The human moved closer to him, slowly, like he didn't want to scare Keith. "I, I'm sorry, about just- kidnapping you like this. But- I couldn't leave you in that cage-"
Keith frowned at him. What was he talking about? Kidnapping? Couldn't leave him in the cage-
'Wait…' Keith flicked his ear towards the human. He was at the tent, and wanted to free Keith. He- must want something in return. That's how these things worked. Keith struggled to move, but managed to lean towards the human enough to reach for the button of his pants-
"Whoa, hey wait-" he gently stopped Keith's hand. "What are you- you don't need to-"
The human continued to stutter, and Keith's confusion grew, brow furrowing. Humans always wanted payment from him, but this one. This one seemed keen on not doing what others have done.
Keith flinched when another wave of pain coursed through his body, and the human pressed the back of his hand to his forehead.
"You're fever is still high…" he frowned. "My name is Takashi Shirogane, by the way. But everyone calls me Shiro. Do- do you have a name?"
Keith pinned his ears back again, looking the human- Shiro- over more. His eyes were so kind, like his father's. Normally, humans jumped at the first chance to use him, but Shiro didn't. He didn't even seem interested.
"....are you hungry?"
He blinked at the question, tilting his head. Shiro was, offering food? Humans never did that, Sendak forbid it. Keith slowly tensed at a realization, hands flying to his face. The muzzle- the muzzle was gone. It was gone, but the collar and shackles were still there.
"Hey, you're ok, I took the muzzle off of you." Shiro slowly reached out again, careful. "It's ok."
Keith flinched away from his hands, but a loud purring noise and a weight crawling into his lap snapped him out of it. The cat that had been laying next to him was kneading the blanket, purring loudly and looking up at him.
"Black seems to like you." Shiro gave Keith a soft smile. "You can take her with you downstairs, I'm sure she wouldn't mind. My friends uh, want to meet you."
Keith blinked again, carefully running his fingers through Black's fur. He didn't want to trust Shiro, trusting got him nowhere.
But he found himself nodding slowly, not like he had a choice in the matter.
"Ok, I'm- I'm going to pick you up, alright? I don't want you to fall or anything." Shiro was careful with Keith, gathering him close to his chest with one arm under his knees and the other around his shoulders. Black stayed in his arms, still purring loudly.
Keith couldn't let himself hope that this outcome would be good.
Keith let himself look around as he was carried down a flight of stairs. The walls were decorated with all sorts of picture frames of different humans standing and laughing with Shiro. They didn't seem like the types to use someone, but Keith has been wrong before.
He was sat down carefully in a chair near a table, and he watched as Shiro fuss with some things. Keith slowly ran his fingers through Black's fur, thankful that the feline hadn't left yet. As much as he liked cats, he missed his wolf the most. Hopefully, Antok wasn't making him fat…
"Sit tight, I'm gonna get my friend real quick before I bring the others in. Is that ok?"
Keith blinked up at Shiro, his frown returning. They were dragging this out, and he wasn't sure why. Sendak's orders, maybe? He nodded once, and watched the human leave the room.
He had returned quickly, a female human in tow.
"Their fever is still high, shouldn't we be worried?" Shiro bit at his lower lip as the female human set a box onto the table. She rummaged through it before pulling out what Keith recognized as a thermometer. She blinked at him when he opened his mouth before she said anything.
"Er, well, it seems you know what a thermometer is." She placed it under his tongue, giving Keith a gentle smile. "My name is Allura. I helped Shiro clean you up last night."
Keith twitched his ear, huffing softly. The thermometer beeped, and Allura took it from him, eyebrows shooting up.
She trailed off, but Keith didn't know why she was worried. That was actually just a little high for Galra- wait. Keith sighed, mentally kicking himself. Of course they wouldn't know that. His father was just as worried when Keith came down with his first cold during a visit to Earth. It had taken his mother a bit to calm him down, and that Keith didn't need emergency care.
But how was he going to tell them that?
Keith looked around, seeing a notebook and pencil on a desk near the wall. He pointed to it. Shiro raised an eyebrow, but got the hint and grabbed the book and pencil, setting them in front of Keith. He took a deep breath. Keith hadn't written in either language in years, hopefully his penmanship hadn't deteriorated too much.
"That's normal for Galra."
Both humans blinked, gawking at him and each other before Allura cleared her throat.
"That's normal? Um, alright. But what is a "Galra"?"
Keith huffed, frowning at the tremble in his hand. "I'm half Galra, half human."
"Er, ok…" Shiro rubbed the back of his head. "Can you tell us your name?"
Keith's tail twitched against his leg, unsure if he should really tell them his name. He could spell "Keith Kogane", but he wasn't sure of the Earth spelling for "Yorak". He chewed on his bottom lip, deciding to ask a question of his own.
"Why am I here? Why haven't you done anything yet?"
The question was a bold one, and could get him hurt, but he couldn't take it anymore. He needed to know what they were planning.
"I- I had to get you out of that cage." Shiro frowned, pulling a chair closer to sit in. "And, what do mean? Are we supposed to do something?"
Something cold lodged in Keith's stomach. What the hell was Sendak planning? "Don't play dumb. He always does this. What does he want? Humans always pay him for my. Services."
"...do you mean Sendak?"
Keith flinched at the anger that flashed in Shiro's eyes, and felt his chest tighten in his growing panic. He always tried to anticipate Sendak's games, it made them just slightly more bearable. But this, this was so far from the normal that Keith didn't know what to do.
"Hey, hey you're ok. Breathe, nice and slow-" Shiro hovered his hands near Keith's shoulders, trying to coax him out of his panic. "We aren't going to hurt you, we promise."
His hands shook as he pet Black, who was still purring in his lap. Keith didn't understand, he didn't understand what was happening or why he was here. He slowly lifted his hand back to the pencil, figuring Sendak had lied to him and he was going to be taken back to the humans with the needles.
"My name is Keith."
"Keith." Shiro smiled at him. "That's a nice name. Glad to meet you, Keith."
Keith looked at Shiro through his hair, squinting a bit when his vision blurred. Black jumped off his lap when he fell forward into Shiro.
"K-Keith?" Shiro caught him before he hit the floor, looking to Allura for help.
She pressed her fingers to his neck gently, frowning. "His pulse is fluttery. I think this was too much for him right now. I would take him back to your room, Shiro. And check his bandages."
Shiro carefully picked Keith up, moving slowly so he wouldn't jostle him anymore that what he already was. He sat on the edge of his bed when he got there, leaning Keith into him as he lifted the back of the hoodie. Shiro hissed at the sight of the bloodied spots on the gauze.
He managed to get Keith out of the hoodie and unwrap the old gauze. The Galra didn't make a sound, not even flinching as Shiro cleaned the lashes and gouges, wrapping fresh gauze around Keith's torso. He laid Keith back down on the bed, gently pushing the hair from his forehead.
"What did you mean by services, Keith?" Shiro whispered, watching the rise and fall of his chest. He noticed the bruising on Keith's thighs, the deep handprints around his hip bones. The picture it created wasn't pretty.
And the Galra thing, what was a Galra? Shiro never heard of one until now. Where were they from? Why was Keith here, and was he alone? What happened to him that left him unable to speak?
Shiro had so many questions, but they all had to wait until Keith was healthy enough to communicate for a longer period of time. Maybe he could talk Hunk, Matt, and Pidge to getting the shackle cuffs and the collar off of him.
He pulled the blanket over Keith, tucking him in before settling down next to him. The bed was big enough that Shiro didn't feel like he was crowding Keith, and he stayed on top of the blankets.
Hopefully, they could get more information in the morning.
Keith cracked his eyes open, ears twitching to a sound near his head. He turned and flinched when he saw Shiro sleeping next to him. Why was he on top of the blankets? This human confused Keith to no end. Others would have had him face down already, using and degrading him. He could feel the panic rising in his chest. Maybe, maybe he was supposed to take the initiative. Wouldn't be the first time, but normally Sendak left some sort of instruction. Orders for him to follow.
Slowly, carefully, he sat up, not wanting to wake Shiro until he figured out what he was supposed to do. His movement, however, startled the human awake.
"Keith? What happened?" Shiro was on alert, but relaxed a bit when he found no danger in the room. "Did you sleep well?"
Keith stared at him, pinning his ears back against his skull. He had to do something before Sendak found out he wasn't doing what he was supposed to.
"I know this whole situation is probably scary for you, but you're gonna be ok." Shiro gave him a lopsided smile, but it slowly faded into a frown. "But, what did you mean by "services", Keith?"
Keith felt his heart sink into his stomach, humans were all the same. He moved slowly, his wounds stinging and pulling as he climbed into Shiro's lap.
Shiro stilled under him when Keith took hold of his wrists, moving them to rest on his thighs. He wouldn't look Shiro in the face, already shaking.
Keith waited. Waited for Shiro to grip him harder, leave bruises, push him to the bed and roughly pull his-
"....I'm not going to do that to you."
His eyes snapped up to Shiro's face, but his panic only grew. He did something wrong-
"Is- is this what Sendak would do to you?" Shiro didn't move his hands, gaze boring into Keith. "What he had others do to you?"
Keith's chest shuddered on an exhale. What was he doing wrong why wasn't Shiro touching him? Maybe- maybe he could see Keith for what he really was. A disgusting, filthy, used up-
"I'm not going to force you to do anything, Keith. I'm not taking advantage of you."
He shook his head, trying to get Shiro's hands to move. Keith felt tears gathering in his eyes, knowing if Sendak found out he wasn't obeying orders, Shiro would get hurt, or Keith's punishment would be worse than it already was.
Shiro finally moved his hands, but lifted them to gently cup Keith's face. He flinched at the contact, expecting pain.
"Keith, look at me. Please?" Shiro's question was so gentle, tender almost in with the concern laced through his tone. Keith slowly opened his eyes, peering at the human.
"You don't have to talk about it, not until you're ready, but…" Shiro trailed off. "You do not need to do this. I'm not going to hurt you like that. Ever."
His chest heaved, and Keith felt the color drain from his face. Sendak played this game with him before, let him believe that he was finally safe and the pain would stop. He was brutalized as punishment for not being the disgusting creature he was-
Keith startled when Shiro pulled him closer, strong arms wrapped around him in such a careful manner. He froze, the fur on his ears and tail puffing out in his alarm. Shiro just held him, carding his fingers through Keith's hair. Not making a move, not slipping his hands into Keith's sweatpants. Just, holding him. It was like being electrocuted, a touch so gentle and tender.
"Are- are you feeling up to meeting the others? You don't have to yet if you don't want to." Shiro's voice was soft, kind.
The Galra felt an emotion fill his chest he hadn't felt before. Warm, trying to overcome the ice and panic in his veins. Keith was terrified, but he had to listen, so he gave the human a small nod.
He was sat down back at the table, Shiro pushing the notebook and pencil in front of him again. Keith kept his head down and his arms around his middle as Shiro left the room to get his friends. His ears twitched at the sound of footsteps coming closer.
"Dude, it's about time we meet this friend of yo-" the voice trailed off.
"What the- what's with all that makeup?" Someone scoffed. "Shiro, my guy, if this is a prank it isn't really clever."
"Lance, it's not a prank…" Shiro pulled a chair closer, slowly placing a hand on Keith's knee. "Keith, these are my friends."
Keith slowly lifted his head, eyes darting around at the group behind Shiro. The bigger one with the head band worried him the most. But, the way they were looking at him, a mix of curiosity and pity and shock, just confused him further. None of them had that hungry look that made Keith's skin crawl.
"Are- holy shit, are those your ears? " A smaller female approached him, examining him with calculating eyes. "He has a tail? Are you sure these aren't special effects? Matt, look at his eyes-"
"Pidge, calm down. Don't crowd him, ok?" Shiro gave her a look, and she backed off with a soft apology.
They all sat around the table, looking Keith over more. The hybrid fought the urge to curl into himself, to hide from their gazes. Shiro gave his knee a gentle squeeze, murmuring reassurances to him.
"So," one of the males spoke up. "Shiro where did you find him?"
"Um. Well, the- the carnival-"
"....you took him from the carnival?" There was a collective gasp. "Shiro-"
"He was in a cage, Matt. Chained up and muzzled like some animal. I couldn't- I couldn't leave him there…"
Matt sighed, rubbing his hand over his face. "Alright. So, Keith. What are you?"
Shiro gave him a look, but Keith just lifted his hand to grab the pencil. He heard someone mention the shackles and the collar, but he ignored them.
"Half Galra, half human."
"What's a "Galra"? Is-" Pidge gasped. "Oh my god, are you an alien?!"
"Pidge. Come on." Lance rolled his eyes. "Aliens don't exist. It's all makeup and prosthetics!"
"They aren't prosthetics, Lance." Allura pushed on Lance's shoulder gently. "They're real. By the way, how are your injuries, Keith?"
Keith tapped the pencil on the paper. "Hurts."
"Scale of one to ten?"
Allura frowned. "Do you know if you can take painkillers?"
"I don't remember."
"That's alright." She turned to the bigger human with the headband. "Hunk, do we still have some of that soup left?"
"Oh yeah. Want me to warm you up some? Do you like soup?" Hunk looked at Keith patiently.
Keith twitched an ear. Did, did he like soup? What was the last thing he ate? He honestly couldn't remember.
"I think so."
Hunk didn't seem happy with his answer, but Shiro stopped him when he went to stand.
"Can you and Matt look at this collar and the cuffs? We need to get them off."
Keith tensed at Shiro's words, and didn't move when his hair was moved off of his neck as Hunk and Matt inspected the lock on the collar. Pidge hovered nearby, giving her two cents every now and then. He didn't notice when one of them left, returning with a metal box. Shiro had moved to sit in front of him, holding his hands gently as they worked to get the cuffs off his wrists and ankles.
"Your legs are digigrade?" Pidge blinked, almost bouncing on her feet. "I have so many questions-"
"Pidge." Matt poked her forehead, and smiled when all four cuffs were off. "There, how does that feel?"
They shared a look when he didn't move, head down and shaking slightly. They looked over the collar more, and started to pick the lock. They jumped when it started to beep rapidly.
"What the fuck?" Hunk frowned, but moved faster to get the collar off.
Keith tightened his grip on Shiro's hands, head snapping up to pin the human with fear filled eyes. Tears rolled down his cheeks as the beeping became faster.
"Guys-" Shiro rubbed his thumbs along the backs of Keith's hands.
"Almost got it-"
The lock popped, and the collar came apart. Keith ripped his hands out of Shiro's and threw the collar onto the table as spikes protruded from the inner ring.
"Holy shit…" Hunk stared at it in horror. "Those spikes would have killed him."
Keith tuned them out, ghosting trembling fingers along his neck and his wrists. They were, off. They've never come off before. His tears fell quicker down his cheeks, and he looked at Shiro in disbelief.
"It's ok, it's ok." Shiro gently pulled Keith into his arms, rubbing the back of his head slowly. "They're off now, you'll never have to wear them again."
He buried his face into Shiro's chest, his body shaking with his choked sobs. Keith could feel someone move his hair again and gently prod the skin on his neck. He flinched away from them, focusing on Shiro's heartbeat to calm him down.
This was all too good to be true.
It took a bit, but Keith eventually calmed down. He kept running his fingers over the damaged skin along his neck, and the surgical scars there. Lance had come back with a small bowl of soup, setting in front of Keith before sitting back down.
"Gods, I have so many questions." Pidge sat near him, grinning and attempting to distract Keith from his breakdown. "Where are you from?"
Keith blinked at her, tapping the pencil on the notebook again. While he knew how to write and spell in both Galran and human tongue, the spellings for certain words were wildly different. He sounded it out in his head, trying to figure out the human equivalent to the letters.
"Daibazaal? Where is that?" Matt hummed in thought. "Definitely not on Earth…"
Pidge got up quickly and left the room, returning to the table with a large book. She flipped the pages until she found a map.
"This is a map of the Milky Way galaxy-"
She blinked, grinning wider. "So, where is Daibazaal?"
Keith looked the map over, idly stirring the soup around as it cooled. He found Kerberos and pointed to it, moving his hand up and past the edge of the book.
" Past Kerberos?!" Hunk gawked, looking at Keith like he was growing a second head. "How did you end up here? What happened?"
Keith frowned, putting the pencil down and sipping at the soup. He felt himself purr, soft, but a purr. The soup was amazing, and he curled his tail into his lap.
"Don't eat too fast, ok?" Shiro smiled, watching Keith before he finally registered the purring.
"Is- is he purring?" Lance stared at Keith, trying to wrap his head around the whole situation.
"Er, yeah. Keith, you can purr?" Shiro tilted his head, blinking when the sound abruptly stopped.
The fur on the Galra's ears and tail fluffed out slowly. Keith set the spoon back into the bowl and pushed it away, appetite gone. He was afraid to get comfortable around these humans. Allura came back with fresh gauze and ointment, quickly changing the subject.
"I need to check your wounds, Keith. Is that alright?"
Keith nodded slowly, biting his lip in an attempt to mask his pain as Shiro and Allura helped him out of the hoodie and sweatpants. The bloodied gauze was unwrapped, and Allura tsked at the wounds that were still oozing on Keith's back.
"I was afraid of this. You'll need stitches, Keith…" she huffed, digging through her box she had set on the table.
"Can't we give him anything for the pain?" Hunk couldn't believe the state Keith was in, how wounded and thin he was.
"He doesn't remember if he's allergic to anything, and I won't give him something that could kill him. We can't exactly go to a hospital."
Keith kept his hands in his lap, curling his fingers into the boxers Shiro had given him to wear as Allura did something behind him. Shiro gently slid his hands into Keith's.
"She needs to clean your wounds, ok? It- it might sting.." Shiro rubbed his thumb across Keith's knuckles.
He nodded once, hissing when Allura had begun. It hurt, and his grip tightened on Shiro's hands. A pained whine left him as he fought the urge to pull away. Shiro murmured apologies and reassurances to him, his heart aching at the growls and breathy whimpers Keith made when Allura started stitching his back up.
Hunk and Matt looked the collar over, frowning at the spikes inside of it. "Keith, did you know about the spikes?"
Keith nodded slowly, flinching as Allura tied off the stitch. He reached a shaking hand to the pencil.
"Used to keep us in line. Seen it activated once."
Keith was shaking by the time Allura finished with his back, carefully wrapping him back up. He didn't move when she pulled his hair back in a loose bun, letting her tilt his head up so she could put some cream on his neck.
"Keith, what are these from?" Allura carefully ran her fingers over the scars on either side of his neck. They looked clean, surgical almost. He pinned his ears back, grabbing the pencil again.
"Humans with needles."
"You mean doctors?" Shiro frowned, rubbing Keith's hands again.
Keith shook his head slowly. "Doctors help. They hurt."
They were silent as Allura finished up, trying to be quick as she cleaned the wounds on Keith's legs.
"The good news is that your wounds haven't gotten infected, but we need to keep them clean so that doesn't happen." Allura smiled at him, tilting her head when he pulled the notebook closer.
"When are you sending me back."
"Back? Keith, you aren't going back to that carnival." Allura swallowed a growl at the thought.
"Are you going to send me back to the humans with needles."
"If they hurt you, no. We'll think of something." She tried to get Keith to look at her, but the hybrid refused.
"For now, you'll stay with us." Shiro moved behind him, undoing the bun and braiding Keith's hair.
"Yeah, I can even teach you sign language!" Hunk smiled. "My cousin is deaf, so I know all about it. I can teach everyone so you don't have to carry around a pencil and paper."
Keith felt the tension leave his muscles when Shiro started braiding his hair, purring softly. He gave Hunk a side look, and nodded. That would be much easier.
"Great! Are you still hungry? I can heat up more soup for you."
He nodded again, and Hunk got up and headed for the kitchen.
"Awesome, another mouth to feed." Lance rolled his eyes, getting up. "Maybe Pidge can get that makeup off of him, too. Kinda creepy."
"Lance." Allura gave an exasperated sigh. "Enough." She took Lance by the arm and left the room.
Shiro huffed, finishing Keith's braid. "Don't worry about him. He's skeptical. Don't let him get to you."
Keith wrapped his arms around his middle, slowly folding into himself. His shoulders shook as he tried to hold back his sobs. Alarmed, Shiro moved and knelt in front of Keith.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Shiro glanced back at the notebook when Keith tapped the pencil on the last sentence he wrote. "Keith, I swear, I'm not sending you back, and neither is anyone else that lives here. You're going to stay here until you're healed and better again. Then, after that, if you don't want to stay here, we'll find a way to get you to where you want to go."
He couldn't take anymore. They were lying, they had to be. They just had to be lying. Keith stabbed at the notebook more, tears rolling down his face.
"Truth tell me the truth"
"I am, Keith. I'm not sending you anywhere. " Shiro pulled him closer, rubbing the back of his head gently.
Hunk came back with the soup, concern flooding his expression immediately. He sat the bowl on the table, and joined Shiro in trying to console Keith.
He ended up crying himself out, too exhausted to put up a fight as Shiro picked him up and carried him upstairs. Keith couldn't even pull away as he was tucked under the covers, rolled up and held gently against Shiro.
Keith fell asleep to Shiro humming softly, a little spark of hope igniting in his chest.
Shiro waited until he was sure Keith was asleep before slipping out of the room, heart aching for him. He was slow to go back down to the living room, mind racing. What truly bothered him was Keith's insistence that he owed Shiro something, that he seemed so sure that Shiro and the others would-
He shuddered at the thought, Keith's face when he had crawled into Shiro's lap burning in his mind. That confusion and fear when Shiro told him he wasn't going to hurt him like that. Keith must have been brutalized in the worst ways possible for him to act like this.
Shiro paused at the end of the stairs. If Keith was an alien, could- could he possibly get-
No, that couldn't be possible. Right?
He slumped into one of the chairs at the table, head in his hands.
"Hey man, I made some tea." Hunk gently set a cup in front of Shiro, taking a seat at the table. "Is he asleep?"
"Yeah, but I'm not sure how long.." Shiro sighed. "He doesn't sleep well. Where's everyone else?"
"Allura got called into work, Lance and Pidge went to get more supplies for Keith, and Matt is looking that collar over. I was helping him, but, I couldn't stand looking at it anymore." Hunk shivered. "That thing would have killed him, Shiro."
"I know, Hunk. But- but that's not the only thing I'm worried about-"
"Worried about what? Is Keith alright?" Pidge and Lance walked in with the bags of supplies, setting them on the table.
"Did you get that makeup off of him or-" Lance started, but Shiro glared at him.
"It isn't makeup, Lance."
"Look, I just don't want this all to be one sick joke, Shiro. You took him from a carnival, most of them are tricky-"
"You can't fake wounds like that. For Christ's sake, Lance, I found him chained up and muzzled in a freezing tent." Shiro's frown deepened. "And I think- I think he's been raped. Multiple times, by multiple people."
The room fell silent, all eyes on Shiro.
"What, what makes you say that-?" Pidge adjusted her glasses, stomach churning with what Shiro was implying.
He ran a hand through his hair, inhaling. "When he first woke up, he tried to get in my pants. And before we got the collar and shackles off of him, he had crawled into my lap, like he was expecting me to-"
Shiro couldn't finish the sentence, didn't want to. It made bile rise up into his throat just thinking about how scared Keith probably was, probably had no idea what was happening or why it was happening.
"It's like- it's like he's just waiting for one of us to hurt him. You should have seen how confused and scared he looked when I told him I wasn't going to do anything like that."
"Oh man…" Lance sank into a chair, hand over his mouth as the reality of Keith's situation started to sink in. "What do we do?"
"I'm not sending him back to that carnival, and I'm not sending him to whatever he meant by "humans with needles". I don't know what to do exactly, but wherever he wants to go when he feels better-"
They all jumped when they heard the front door slam shut, and Allura quickly found them.
"We may have a problem." She reached into her bag, pulling out a flyer. "The carnival is looking for Keith."
Shiro took the flyer from her, scowling.
Ringmaster Sendak's pet has escaped!
Approach with caution! Dangerous animal!
Call ***-***-**** with any information!
"Pet? Animal?" Lance's brow knitted together. "Ok, maybe I was wrong about Keith…"
"We can't let them find him." Pidge crossed her arms. "He probably wouldn't survive."
Shiro tuned them out, muttering about checking on Keith before getting up and heading back upstairs. He was quiet as he entered the bedroom, sighing in relief to find Keith still sleeping. He sat on the edge of the bed, watching the hybrid. Shiro knew he wouldn't be able to sleep, so he grabbed the book off of his nightstand and sat back against the headboard.
He was halfway through a chapter when a noise caught his attention. It was soft, but it reminded him of what Black would sound like when she was stuck on something. Shiro looked towards Keith to find him lying on his stomach, face scrunched up and his claws digging into the sheets. He trilled again, a weak sound, but it had Shiro tossing his book and moving to Keith's side.
"Keith?" His hands hovered over Keith's trembling form. He knew waking him was probably a bad idea, but he couldn't let him stay trapped in his head. "Keith, hey, wake up. It's just a nightmare you're ok-"
As soon as his hands touched Keith, the hybrid's eyes flew open. He snarled and lashed out, a claw catching Shiro right across his face. He hissed, but immediately caught Keith's hands on his next lunge, holding them up over his head.
"Keith! Keith, you're alright, it's ok." Shiro kept Keith pinned until he stopped struggling, chest stuttering with uneven, frantic breaths. His eyes widened when he finally focused on Shiro, and the bleeding gash across his nose.
Shiro blinked when Keith whined, mouthing "I'm sorry" over and over as he started to tremble.
"No, don't apologize it's ok. I promise, you were having a nightmare." Shiro tried not to wince. "I'm ok, it's just a scratch."
Keith shook his head, his eyes going distant and hazy as he turned his head, going lax under Shiro. It was when Keith moved his legs apart that Shiro realized what was happening. He was quick to move off of him, sending a quick text to Allura before cupping Keith's face gently.
"Keith, nothing like that is going to happen. I'm not upset with you." He didn't look up when he heard Allura come in, trying to coax Keith out of his attack.
"Shiro, what happened- what the hell happened to your face?" She looked between the two, joining Shiro on the other side of Keith.
"He was having a nightmare, I tried to wake him up. He didn't mean it. But.." another full body shudder from Keith had Shiro snapping his eyes back to him. Thick tears rolled down Keith's face.
Allura frowned, but tilted Shiro's chin towards her to inspect the cut. "It doesn't look that deep, but you might need stitches."
"Keith first…" Shiro took the chance to gather the hybrid into his arms, rocking gently and humming a soft tune his grandmother would sing to him before he slept. Keith was rigid in his arms, eyes wide and unfocused. He slowly, very slowly, relaxed in Shiro's arms, coming back to himself.
"You're ok…" Shiro didn't stop rocking until Keith pulled away, looking up at Shiro and pinning his ears back. "Don't worry about it. I swear, it's just a scratch."
He carried Keith to the bathroom so Allura could check his stitches and clean up Shiro's face. The hybrid kept his head lowered, arms wrapped around his middle.
"Well, no stitches for you, Shiro. But, it may scar."
"That's alright. I don't care." He got up and knelt by Keith. "Are you alright?"
Keith shook his head.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
He hesitated, but slowly nodded, eyes darting between Shiro and Allura.
"I'll give you some space." She gave him a caring smile, and left the bathroom.
Keith let Shiro pick him back up, but he could take his eyes off the human. He hurt Shiro, cut his face, and he wasn't being punished. Shiro wasn't mad at him, neither was Allura. It didn't make sense.
A warmth sparked in his chest, though, when Shiro gave him a kind smile and a patient look. Maybe, maybe he could trust these humans.
He might not have a choice.
Keith waited on Shiro's bed as he retrieved the notebook for him, ears back and body tense. He hurt Shiro, yet, he wasn't being punished for it. No cages or whips, no forcing him into bed with his ass in the air. No threats of being returned to Sendak or the humans with needles, or worse, that woman that works for Sendak. Keith's fear that Shiro and his friends were hired to hurt him by Sendak faded with each kind word and touch.
It didn't make sense.
Shiro returned with the notepad, shuffling onto the bed but giving Keith space.
"Are you alright?"
Keith looked up, pinning his ears back as he looked at the cut on Shiro's face.
"Don't worry about it. It doesn't even hurt, Allura put cream on it to help. If it scars, I'll just blame Black." Shiro chuckled, but fell into serious mode after he realized his joke failed. "Do you want to talk about your nightmare?"
He hovered the pencil over the paper, hands already shaking. Shiro scooted a little closer.
"You don't have to if you don't want to. Ok?" Shiro continued when Keith nodded. "Can I ask you some questions? You don't have to answer them."
Keith nodded slowly, looking past Shiro at the bed as he tried to calm his nerves.
"Ok. You- you are a male, right?"
He frowned, looking up at Shiro. The question was odd, didn't they see him naked?
Shiro shifted, looking almost uncomfortable. "Well, I just- when we were cleaning you up- you don't have a-" he shyly pointed to his own lap. "N-not that I was looking, but-"
Keith's frown deepened. Didn't have a what? What was-
He blinked in realization, quickly writing and doodling on the paper.
"My father told me humans use the word "intersex". Galra have a penis and a vagina."
Keith showed him the doodles. He wasn't a great artist, but hopefully it gave Shiro an idea about what Galra anatomy looked like. The blush that flooded Shiro's cheeks told him his answer, as well as the fear that he had been violated by these humans. It was obvious that they didn't touch him.
"O-oh." Shiro cleared his throat. "Ok then. But, if you have both, does- Keith, can you get pregnant?"
"No, I haven't hit puberty yet."
Keith tilted his head when the color drained from Shiro's face. "How- how old are you?"
He blinked again at the horrified tone in Shiro's voice. Keith tapped the pencil on the paper, the last birthday he celebrated was when he returned to Earth.
"The last birthday I had was when I returned to Earth, before I was captured. I was 21."
"21? But, you said you haven't hit puberty yet." Now Shiro just looked confused.
'Oh, duh. Dad was just as confused.' "I've already gone through the human aspects of puberty, not the Galra aspects. Because I haven't presented, there is a surgery that made sure I was sterile."
When a furious look overtook Shiro's features, Keith quickly continued. "Being a half breed doesn't guarantee fertility, so I'm probably sterile anyway. I'm the first human/Galra hybrid, so we aren't sure when I will present as an alpha or omega or beta. I consented to the surgery, and it was done when I was 18. It can be reversed when I'm ready."
Shiro relaxed, breathing a sigh of relief. "So, why would you consent to a surgery like that anyway?"
"Being a member of the Blade can be dangerous for omegas and betas, it's just a precaution in case suppressants run low while on missions."
"The Blade Of Marmora. We guard the throne, and seek planets to form alliances with for trading."
"Ah." Shiro rubbed the back of his head. "Is that why you came to Earth?"
Keith wilted, ears lowering as he curled his tail into his lap. "No. I came to visit my father. I thought I was being careful, stayed off of human radar. But." Keith sniffled, rubbing his eyes before he continued. "Humans were waiting at his house. They killed him, and took me."
"Oh, Keith…." Shiro scooted closer again, but didn't touch. "I'm so sorry...is, that why you don't speak? Sometimes trauma can do that-"
Keith shook his head. "Humans with needles took my voice." He pointed to the little scars on his neck, and Shiro nodded.
"I see. Do you know how long you've been here on Earth?"
"No. I tried to keep track, but I couldn't see the sun in the cage i was in. The humans with needles gave me to Sendak, for some reason."
Shiro frowned. "Do you know what year you were born?"
Keith nodded, jotting down the number as Shiro pulled out his phone. "You're 25 now, Keith...you've been on Earth for four years."
The hybrid wilted. He's been gone for so long, his mother probably thought the worst happened. Did they even know he was missing?
"Like I said before, we'll find a way to get you to where you want to go, Keith. I promise. But…" Shiro swallowed thickly, like he didn't want to ask his question. "Keith...you were raped, weren't you?"
The pencil snapped in his hand, the fur on his ears and tail fluffing up. Keith didn't want to talk about it, didn't want to think about the hands and the bites and the pain of being forced to take things far too big far too fast and the blood-
Keith flinched when Shiro carefully framed his face with his hands, thumbing the skin of his cheeks gently. "You won't be hurt anymore, Keith. I'm not going to force you to talk about it, but you can tell me anything. Whenever you want to talk, I'll listen."
Shiro pulled the hybrid into his lap, one hand cupped at the back of Keith's head while the other wrapped around him gently. Keith stilled, breath hitching.
"It's ok to cry, I'm not going to think less of you. None of us are. I'll keep you safe from Sendak, somehow. I'll do what it takes, as many times as it takes."
Keith shivered in Shiro's arms, face crumpling as sobs ripped from his chest. He knew, Keith knew this warm feeling that chased away the cold. Galra could tell when they were safe, when someone was safe. Shiro was safe, this place was safe. Keith wailed into Shiro's chest, clinging to the human like a lifeline. Shiro simply rocked him, not shooshing him or trying to talk him through his crying. He let Keith spill his emotions.
"When you feel up to it, Hunk is going to teach us all sign language. We'll figure out a way to hide you so you can leave the house when we go places. We can make this work, and this will be your home until you want to leave." Shiro carded his fingers through Keith's hair. "And when you do want to leave, I'll help you get there. Somehow."
Keith pressed into the touch, to Shiro's warmth, and nodded slowly. He buried his face into Shiro's chest, letting himself drift off to sleep.
Keith watched Hunk closely, making sure to copy the hand motions he was doing. The hybrid had a restless night, but Shiro had held him as he slept. Keith had spent most of the night just watching the human, frowning at the scratch he had left on his face, wondering why Shiro was treating him as something more than an animal.
"You're catching on pretty fast." Hunk smiled at him. "I'm impressed."
"It's like Galra sign." Keith fumbled a little, needing to repeat some letters. "But, thank you."
"Don't thank me, I'm happy to teach you! You'll get better hang of it the more you use it. It took my cousin a bit to get used to it as well." Hunk motioned for Keith to follow him into the kitchen. "Wanna help me make lunch?"
Keith blinked, tilting his head slightly as he followed Hunk. He wanted help? But, why? Hunk seemed to be a very good cook if the soup he had given him was anything to go by. Why need help from something like Keith?
"Usually I have Lance taste test, but that's because he likes to snack when I cook." Hunk chuckled. "But i want to know what you like and don't like."
He tapped a stool for Keith to sit in, giving him a gentle smile when the Galra slowly climbed into it. Keith picked at the sleeve of the sweatshirt Shiro had given him while Hunk got things ready.
Hunk gave him different ingredients for him to taste; vegetables, what Hunk had called "cold cuts", and some sweet things that he had hidden away from Pidge. Keith poked at one of the candies, unsure if he was truly allowed to have it.
"Go ahead. I only hide them from Pidge because she would eat them all the time if we let her. Insatiable sweet tooth." He winked at Keith, going back to whatever he was making.
Keith blinked, picking out one that was in a silver wrapper and shaped like a raindrop with a flat base. He unwrapped it and popped it into his mouth, groaning softly. It was pure chocolate, he hadn't had chocolate in forever.
Hunk smiled at the noise, but didn't comment on it, just slid the bag of chocolate towards Keith. "Just don't eat too many at once, ok? You're still getting used to food."
He nodded, eating one more piece before tapping on the countertop to get Hunk's attention.
"At the Garrison trying to get them to let him pilot again." Hunk frowned a bit. "I'm not sure if he told you, but it's not a secret, but Shiro was sick for a long time. He's fine now, the doctors were able to cure him, but the officers there are keeping him from piloting. Something about they can't guarantee his disease will come back."
Keith frowned. Garrison….it sounded familiar, but Hunk continued.
"Iverson wants Shiro to come back, it's Sanda that is causing grief-" Hunk looked up when he heard the door close. "In the kitchen!"
Sanda? Keith shivered as a chill ran up his spine. That name was familiar too….
"No luck, as usual…" Shiro sighed, tossing his bag onto the counter when he entered the kitchen.
Keith felt the blood drain from his face, and his heart stopped. That uniform, it was familiar. They lied to him, they all lied. Shiro worked for the humans with needles, they were just trying to get him healthy and then send him back.
"Keith? Hey, what's wrong?" Shiro stepped closer, eyes widening when the hybrid flinched back hard enough to fall off of his seat.
He backed away when Shiro stepped closer, his back hitting the wall. Keith didn't wince when he felt the stitches pop, and he kept his eyes on Shiro. He couldn't run, he had nowhere to go. They would put that collar back on him if he wasn't good, he didn't want that. Ever.
"Keith-" Shiro paused again when Keith moved, getting onto his knees but putting his arms behind his back. He hung his head, ears pinned to his skull. It was a pose Garrison officers were trained to put detainees in while they were being arrested, but why would Keith-
It clicked, then. Shiro wasn't stupid.
"Hunk." He kept his voice low as he shed the uniform quickly, leaving him in a tank top and shorts. "Take these, and-"
"Right, got it." Hunk took the uniform and slowly left the kitchen.
Shiro chewed on his lip, crouching near the hybrid. "Keith."
Keith flinched, but didn't raise his head. He wasn't told to, he wasn't allowed to move unless he was told.
"Keith, you don't need to sit like that." Shiro gently placed his hands on Keith's shoulders, slowly moving them down his arms. "Come on, you might have popped your stitches…"
Shiro carefully moved Keith's arms back to his front, rubbing his elbows and trying to get him to look up. A weak, trilling sound filled the space between them.
"Easy, you're alright. I swear. Nothing is gonna happen to you." Shiro moved his arms up, keeping a constant and gentle pressure on Keith, and framed the hybrid's face.
Keith startled when Shiro coaxed him to look at him. He searched the human's face for any sign of deceit, any sign that Shiro would hurt him. He had the chance. Keith felt weak, he was cold and his stomach hurt and he always got like this when he was scared he just wanted to go home-
Shiro rubbed his face gently, careful of his cheek, murmuring to him in a soothing tone that had Keith trilling again. He hated that he still trilling like a kit when he wanted his mother.
"You feel cold…" Shiro moved Keith into his lap before getting to his feet, cradling the shaking hybrid to his chest. "Allura is still at work, but I can check your back, ok?"
Keith just stared at him, vision darkening at the edges. Nothing made sense anymore, Shiro's actions didn't make sense. The humans with needles were cruel, like Sendak. But…
"Sendak didn't hire you, did he?" Keith's hands were slow, but the realization took the air from his lungs.
"No, Keith. I just-" Shiro sat him down near the tub, carefully tugging off the sweatshirt. "Matt, Pidge, and I were at the carnival. I tried to leave since they aren't my thing, and I found you in that cage…"
Keith tuned him out after Shiro had said something about an infection. The whole situation just seemed like a coincidence, pure luck that Shiro had wandered into his tent. Things like this didn't happen to Keith.
He jumped a little when Shiro held him as they moved under the shower head, warm water chasing away the chill under his skin. He trilled, upset and desperate for physical contact and affection that he didn't care how pathetic he sounded.
Shiro cleaned his wounds, redressed him, and carried him back to the bedroom. Keith couldn't stop trilling. He wanted to go home, to his mother, to Kosmo and the rest of the Blade. And a small part of him wanted Shiro to come with him too. Keith wasn't sure why, he barely knew this human, but he clung to Shiro anyway. He clung to him and trilled and shook, Keith didn't care if he would be sent back. He would willingly go if he could just stay in Shiro's arms for a little while longer.
Keith fell asleep to Shiro humming softly, tender fingers carding through his hair.
Shiro worried his lip with his teeth as Allura looked over the hybrid, a deep frown on her face.
"His temperature is low, but it may just be stress that's making him sick. There's no sign of infection, his wounds look clean…" She brushed Keith's bangs from his forehead as he slept. "If only I could get him to the hospital, then I could be sure."
"Is there anything I can do to help more? He's- he was terrified of me when he saw me in my Garrison uniform. They had him, Allura. They had him. What if they hurt him too?" Shiro started to pace, his heart thundering in his chest from the sick possibilities. "What if they experimented on him? Who knows what Sanda has in the restricted areas-"
"He may have been scared, but I think he trusts you the most, Shiro." Allura straightened, patting him on the shoulder. "He's been through a lot. We just need to show him that not all humans are monsters."
He nodded slowly, looking back to Keith when Allura left the room. Shiro sighed, running his flesh hand over his face before he laid down on the bed. He watched Keith sleep for awhile, how the hybrid's brow was furrowed and how he shivered. Against what his brain was telling him, he shimmied underneath the covers and gathered Keith into his arms, humming softly whenever the hybrid fussed in his sleep.
"I'm not giving up on you, Keith." Shiro held him close, keeping his voice at a whisper. "I promise."
Keith was confused, again, to say the least. Shiro wasn't sending him back to the humans with needles, and he wasn't sure why. None of Shiro's friends mentioned it, either. They told him that they weren't going to send him back, and a small part of him was starting to believe it.
He currently was sitting on the couch, watching Lance play some sort of game on the television. The hybrid was tired, still recovering from his panic attack a few days ago. They told him that he could trust them, and he felt like he could. He figured a nap wouldn't hurt until Shiro got home from wherever he went.
Slowly, Keith stretched out on the couch, closer to Lance. A small part of him was nervous, but-
"Huh?" Lance froze as soon as Keith's head pressed against his leg, and he looked down to see the hybrid looking up at him nervously. A small smile crossed his face as he leaned back more into the couch. "You look exhausted, dude. Come on, get comfy. You know you can't curl up like that with your back."
Keith blinked, but moved further up so his head was comfortably resting on Lance's thigh, facing the television. Lance switched it to a normal program to watch, glancing down at Keith every so often. Hesitantly, he rested his hand on Keith's shoulder, rubbing his thumb against him. Lance felt the hybrid tense up, but slowly, very slowly, the tension bled out of his muscles.
Lance smiled to himself when he heard the soft sounds of sleep coming from Keith, and ended up falling asleep himself half way through the show he was trying to watch.
The more he found out things about Shiro as the days went on, Keith realized, the more a curious feeling built up in his chest.
Said human was currently unwinding his bandages, with Keith sat on a chair in the dining room. The hybrid sat as still as he could, ears twitching to the sounds of Hunk in the kitchen.
"Well." Allura stood next to Shiro, carefully running her fingers along the skin between the wounds. "Looks like we can remove your stitches, Keith. How does that sound?"
He nodded, hoping the heat that flooded his face wasn't blush when Shiro moved in front of him and held his hands.
"It might sting, ok?" Shiro gave him a smile, and Keith timidly returned it.
He growled softly at the feeling of the stitches being removed, gripping Shiro's hands tightly. Shiro murmured reassurances to him, rubbing his thumbs along Keith's hands.
"All done. And it looks like you're starting to put on weight. Which is a good thing." Allura patted him on the head, and handed back the hoodie Shiro let him wear. "How do you feel?"
Keith blinked, and stretched a little. His back was sore, and he still felt the pull on his skin, but he felt so much better than he had in a long time.
"I feel great. Thank you."
It wasn't long before Hunk had finished dinner, ushering everyone into the living room for a movie night. Keith's tail thumped against his thigh when a plate of food was put in his hands, and Shiro sat closest to him as they piled around the couch when the movie started.
Keith was thankful for the lights being out during the movie, or else Shiro might have noticed him sneaking glances, just to watch the human laugh with his friends. The warm feeling grew, and the realization of what it could possibly mean ruined his appetite. He was falling in love with Shiro, hard. Galra courted in a very specific manner, and it all started with a warmth building in their chest. Keith was imprinting on Shiro.
He was making a mistake.
He didn't want to fall in love, not yet anyway. There was no fathomable way Shiro could love him back. Keith was broken, used up, scarred and useless. He didn't have the stamina he used to, the agility or strength, everything he needed to impress a potential mate.
"Keith? You alright?" Shiro leaned in, his voice kept at a whisper.
Keith nodded slowly, pushing his food around on his plate. He wasn't hungry anymore. The hybrid set his plate down, motioning towards the stairs and left the living room before Shiro could stop him.
He slowly made it to Shiro's room, curling up underneath the covers as the unbearable loneliness crashed into him. He couldn't be loved, not now, not ever.
Keith just needed to accept it.