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Whumptober 2021

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Day 1 prompt: “you have to let go”

 

Tags: Season 1 or 2, Hypothermia (but not really), non-consensual drug use, restraints, delirium/confusion.

 

 

Falling asleep when it feels as if you’re gradually freezing to death is never a good idea. Of this Keith is… pretty certain. The medical classes that the Garrison had forced students through were never his strong suit, not compared to flying. Maybe he should have taken them more seriously, at least then he might be a little more clear-headed and able to assess the current situation.

 

The details of how it all started have grown fuzzy. He and Shiro had been on a… scouting mission? Data collection mission? On a planet that had long since been abandoned in favour of more livable colonies by its original inhabitants, a bizarre species of people – he thinks he remembers them having no visible mouths – their voices instead seemed to emanate from somewhere within them and it was only thanks to Allura's diplomatic skills that the rest of the team had avoided making asses out of themselves by accidentally offending them.

 

Their original home planet had been equally as bizarre. A landscape of perma-frost where strange looking plants nevertheless managed to grow, their tendrils ducking and weaving above and below ground, becoming one with the architecture. At some point in his exploration he’d nudged a particularly bulbous bulge at the base of one of the plants and immediately regretted it when some sort of thick liquid oozed out in response, its sickeningly sweet scent hitting him even through his helmet, though when he’d asked Shiro had said that he couldn’t smell anything.

 

He can’t recall much of the rest of their time on that strange, cold planet, but at some point the smell had receded – or maybe he’d gotten used to it, and instead a dull awareness of something watching them had bled into the back of his conscience, phantom eyes watching their every move, buildings that felt as if they were speaking, whispering words over his shoulder while he and Shiro explored. Even when the words had gotten louder Shiro hadn't reacted, he'd only noticed something was wrong when Keith had been unable to take it anymore and started trying to look for the voices origin. Really if anything Shiro had been a hindrance, getting in his way as his searching became more frantic, trying to get his attention as if there hadn't been an unknown threat bearing down on them, somehow sucking the warmth out of their armour. 

 

Or maybe he’s just delirious. He’s pretty sure all of that had happened, only there must be some gaps missing in his memory because one minute it was only him and Shiro and the next he’s being manhandled, half-dragged somewhere before he’s thrown back into awareness in the castle ship’s medical bay with Coran’s worried face obscured by the bright light that’s being shone in his eyes. Shiro’s still here, but now he’s holding Keith’s arms back for some reason, preventing him from huddling into himself for some warmth to combat the liquid cold that feels as if it’s thrumming through his veins.

 

“Shiro?” His hearing is muffled, body chilled and the only reason he knows that the words have made it out of his mouth is because he can feel the vibrations of his slurred speech in his throat. “ ‘s cold.”

 

“I know.” Shiro’s voice is calm, collected, not at all like the dread curling through Keith’s own gut that’s making his voice come out in stuttered, shaky gasps. “Coran, any news?” Shiro’s hands leave his for a moment, giving him the chance to hug his arms closer to himself, stilling when his fingers feel something that shouldn’t be there. There’s a line of something going into the back of one of his hands, straight into the available vein. Surely that’s not right.

 

In the same moment that he gets the idea to try and take it out Shiro is somehow one step ahead of him and his hands are there again, trapping Keith’s arms securely at his sides, much to his dismay.

 

Keith thinks Coran is speaking, there’s muted sounds resembling the lilting tones of Coran’s voice coming from somewhere in the vicinity, but Keith can barely think past how cold he feels and he’s far too out of it to feel rude about interrupting whatever Coran’s saying with his next sentence.

 

“It’s so cold...” His voice gets caught on most of the words, to the point that he doubts that the other two are even able to understand him, tongue and lips going numb, body unable to keep anything but the essentials warm.

 

“I know bud.” Shiro soothes, giving an extra squeeze to his arms for good measure.

 

The sound of Coran’s muffled voice continues on, though he’s only able to catch bits and pieces of it. He misses his explanation of what caused him to be here in the first place, restrained in place and violently shivering in the medical bay, but he does manage to drift in enough to catch. “He’s not actually freezing, he just feels as if he is” and, more worrying. “I have something… give him… better to let him sleep it off until… clears out of his system.”

 

He thinks Shiro asks him whether he caught all of that, but his only response is to furrow his brow in confusion although now that all the feeling in his face has gone he can't be sure if he's even managed that. What is Coran talking about? He can feel himself slowly freezing, there’s no way he’s just imagining the deep ache of cold in his bones.

 

“Keith,” Shiro waits until he slowly blinks up at him, as much focus as he’s capable of currently giving honing in on trying to keep up with his next sentence. “Coran’s just going to give you something, okay? It’ll help you sleep.”

 

Go to sleep? When he’s this cold? His first aid knowledge isn’t the best but he’s pretty sure he vaguely remembers something about it being a horrible idea for hypothermic people to go to sleep. He needs to tell Shiro, remind him of the basic first aid that he’s apparently forgotten. Maybe alteans can go to sleep when they’re freezing, but Keith definitely can not and should not.

 

“N-no,” His protests amount to basically nothing in the face of Shiro’s own strength keeping him secured to the bed, he can’t even make his mouth form properly around the words he wants to say. I’m too cold, I’ll die if I go to sleep!

 

Whatever’s in the tube leading to his wrist begins to bleed a different colour and Keith watches in horror as the new substance travels down from where it’s been administered, edging closer and closer to his veins, if it goes in-

 

“Shiro! No!” Distantly he can hear the bed groaning from the force of his struggles, blood rushing too loudly in his ears to hear the panicked cry that leaves his lips when the new liquid finally reaches his hand and enters. The effects are near immediate, body slowly losing the ability to fight until he slumps back in Shiro’s hold, eyelids gradually growing heavier and heavier even though panic still holds a firm grip on his heart.

 

Dimly he can hear Shiro’s voice hushing him, hands releasing their restraining grip until he feels one of them – the human hand – carding gently through his hair.

 

“Just let go,” Even as Keith wills his eyes to stay open he can feel them treacherously closing, darkness descending over his vision. “It’s okay, you’re okay.” The other’s voice is the only thing he’s really capable of registering now, everything else fading away. “I’ll still be right here when you wake up.”

 

Chapter Text

Day 2 prompt: garotte

 

Tags: Season 2, Asphyxiation, emetophobia warning (nothing happens).

 

 

Taking out sentries one by one from a safe distance was Lance’s designated job for this mission, and he was doing a damn good job of it so far if he may say so himself. So much so that it was almost boring. Sentries walk in very predictable patrol patterns once you watch them enough. Honestly, the Galra really need someone like Pidge of Hunk to take a look and improve their AI.

 

That’s a dumb thought though, he should just be grateful that the sentries in this base are apparently about fifty updates behind some of the others they’ve encountered. He’s missed a couple of shots, enough for them to have raised a base-wide alarm at the sight of other sentries laying out of commission on the ground. But they haven’t and he’s just counting his blessings that his side of the operation is running so smoothly, especially when there’s a feeling of vulnerability that comes with this mission, neither he or Keith have brought their lions with them in favour of them all using Green's cloaking abilities to lower the chances of being detected. As much as he wishes he could feel Blue’s comforting presence and know that she's close by, he has a lot of faith in Pidge’s bond with Green – if anything goes wrong with the mission it definitely won’t be with them.

 

Pidge is clear to enter the data room and almost immediately she sets to work hacking into the outdated system, inserting some sort of bug into it, Lance isn’t entirely sure to be honest.

 

With Lance taking care of any outside sentries, it’s Keith’s job to handle any actual galra that may be in the base - despite their rivalry Lance can't deny Keith's close combat skills. Their sources had told them that this is a mostly sentry operated facility, but it’s not impossible that there may be some galra hanging around for various reasons.

 

“Shit.” Well, that bodes well.

 

Pidge’s harsh exhale is clearly audible over the comms, but she doesn’t elaborate past another angry sigh.

 

“Pidge?” Lance asks, having to manually force his focus onto the next sentry, picking it off with practiced ease and a single shot from his blaster.

 

“There’s a galra here. Big guy.” She answers, voice distracted by her work. “He hasn’t spotted me yet though.”

 

“I’m on it.” There’s Keith’s confident voice, the red paladin presumably charging into action even as both Pidge and Lance urge him to wait to see if they can just sneak past him and avoid a fight.

 

Lance revels in his long distance skills, but it’s still annoying and worrying when he’s not in the heat of the battle and can’t clearly see what’s going on around the other paladins. As it is, he can only tell when Keith clashes with the galra by the sounds of his shouts over the comms, too busy to reply to any of Pidge or Lance’s enquiries.

 

“Got it!” Pidge exclaims and Lance can feel his shoulders loosen in relief. “I’m on my way out. Keith can you handle that guy?”

 

“Yeah, I-” His voice is cut off by another grunt. Lance can only guess how the fight’s going but Keith hasn’t screamed or anything so he can only assume that things are okay. “Pidge, you should be clear to get out.”

 

He hears Pidge mutter a hesitant affirmative, then sets to work scoping their exit site out and picking off any stray sentries lurking about. They’ve made it this far unharmed and he doesn’t want to let his guard down too early.

 

It doesn’t take too long for Pidge to reappear out of the base, grinning in Lance’s direction before she makes her way over to the green lion. Lance keeps his eyes trained on the exit for any sign of the red paladin so they can get out of here. The quiet that had fallen over the comms as Pidge situated herself back in her lion had been alright for a time, but it doesn’t take too long for it to become concerning.

 

“Keith?” Lance stresses, straining to hear any sign of him over the comms again. “You good?”

 

There’s a few more ticks of nothing, both Lance and Pidge holding their breaths from their positions, then he sees Pidge move as if to get back out of Green’s cockpit.

 

“Pidge, stay there.” He says and even to himself his voice sounds strange, lacking its usual nonchalant energy. “You need to be ready for us to take off.” He hops over the barrier he’d been using for cover, moving in the direction of the base’s exit. “I’ll go get him.”

 

“Lance-”

 

“Stay there.” He tells her again and there’s a few moments where he thinks she might refuse, but then she admits defeat with a stressed huff, biting out a vague threat about how they ‘better come back quickly’.

 

Entering the base is easy thanks to his previous work in taking out the patrols, but that’s where the easy parts end. Once he’s made it in he immediately gets turned around – every corridor looks exactly the same - the same greys and purples lining the walls, what seems to be the exact same door over and over. The base might be manned by soulless sentries but does it really need to look as if it was designed by one too?

 

“Uh… Pidge? Little help?” He asks. As much as he would love to be able to pull off retrieving Keith on his own he knows when he’s beat and needs the help of someone else – more than he can say for the red paladin’s own mindset.

 

“Let’s see...” A few ticks of Lance awkwardly standing there, body tense in the middle of a corridor pass by before Pidge continues. “Turn to your left and keep going, Keith should be somewhere around there.” Lance utters a quick affirmative before he sets out in a run.

 

It’s not hard to tell when he reaches the right area. To say this part of the base has been wrecked would be putting it lightly – so much for straight in straight out leaving no trace behind. There’s signs of Keith and the galra’s fight everywhere, twisted metal and smashed windows lining the corridor, it really is a wonder that there’s somehow no alarms going off yet, this base really is a backwater.

 

Any other thoughts are quickly cut off by the sight of Keith’s helmet laying on the ground, visor smashed in and a few specks of deep red blood marring the white surface. He quickly plucks it off of the floor, wedging it under an arm as he continues at a renewed pace. All he has to do is follow the trail of destruction, steps gaining even more urgency when he spots a new smattering of blood trailing down a sharp outcropping of metal.

 

He knows when he’s found them because he can hear whoever Keith’s fighting. They’re not talking, instead what’s coming out of the galra’s mouth is more of a twisted laugh that reverbs straight through Lance’s stomach and has him lightening his steps to try and gain the advantage of surprise, silently peeking around the corner when he reaches them.

 

Okay.

 

Wow.

 

Pidge really had not been lying when she said the galra was huge. He’s massive. Easily the biggest Lance has seen so far – why Keith had thought it was a good idea to take on this guy alone he has no idea.

 

There’s something in the galra’s hands. Keith is on the floor beneath him, his own hands uselessly trying to push at the galra on top of him but there’s no real fight behind his movements, no strength even as he attempts to strike at the huge body above him, finger ineffectually scrabbling at the galra's chest. When nothing he tries works his hands fall back down and Lance’s eyes follow the movement as they drop to rest at his neck, or they would if there wasn’t some sort sort of material in the way. Choking him.

 

The big galra’s choking him.

 

Lance doesn’t even think, not really, instead he acts on pure instinct. He’s at an advantage, the galra’s not even noticed him, too preoccupied with the paladin below him. He barely even registers that he’s raised his blaster until he watches big guy slump forward, it doesn’t even really hit him that he’s just taken a life, everything’s narrowed down to his teammate sprawled across the floor.

 

“Shit, Keith-” Other words leave his mouth, things like don’t worry and you’re okay that don’t sound convincing at all. By the time he manages to stagger over and shove the weight of the galra off of him Keith’s managed to violently claw off the fabric that had been around his neck, nails leaving nasty-looking marks on his skin in his blind panic. Keith doesn’t seem to notice when Lance drops down beside him, helping to pull the offending fabric off entirely. Instead he rolls onto his side to take some of the most painful sounding breaths Lance has ever heard. Every attempted inhale gets caught on a cough that stops him from taking a full breath, eyes red-rimmed and pooling with unwanted tears.

 

He can’t answer any of Lance’s questions in this state, so he settles for setting firm hands underneath the other’s arms, hauling him into an upright sitting position that he immediately breaks by curling back over himself into another coughing fit, occasionally heaving as if he’s about to throw up.

 

It’s as Lance’s hand falls to rub comforting lines down Keith’s back that the base’s alarms finally decide to kick in, plunging the base into a frantic panic of emergency sirens.

 

“Sorry buddy but we’ve gotta go right now.” He says, somehow finding enough strength to drag the red paladin off of the ground, barely remembering the helmet that had been yanked off of him. It soon becomes apparent that he’s going to have to take most of Keith’s weight for the journey back when he all but collapses against him, feet dragging in an effort to unburden Lance a little.

 

“Lance, what’s happening in there?!” Pidge’s voice breaks through the constant screeching of the alarms.

 

“We’re okay." Keith still can't take a full breath without breaking down into coughs. "Well-” He cuts off his explanation in favour of lifting Keith back up when he nearly falls back to the ground. “We’re on our way back, make sure you’re ready to get out of here!”

 

It’s a struggle to get Keith out, when they first start it’s more like he’s bodily dragging him back out of the base than helping him, but gradually Keith’s legs become a little steadier and by the time they’re staggering up Green’s ramp he’s almost able to take his own weight. Almost being the key word, because when they finally cram into Green’s cockpit and Lance makes the mistake of thinking Keith can set himself down he immediately collapses to the floor.

 

Pidge is asking rapid fire questions but Lance can’t answer any of them at the speed she apparently wants, too focused on stabilising Keith’s shaking frame so Green’s takeoff doesn’t end up with him getting even more hurt. She resigns herself to not asking any more, directing her focus onto getting off of the base unscathed though she does occasionally twist her neck to nervously check on the other two.

 

“We’re alright Pidge, don’t worry.”

 

“You can’t tell me not to worry when you’ve turned up with Keith looking like that.” Fair point. Keith is currently hunched over himself again in the throes of another fit, strands of hair plastered to his forehead from the exertion of the whole ordeal. It continues until Green levels out and they can all breathe a sigh of relief, settling down into the calm of travelling back to the castle ship.

 

Pidge’s chair turns to face them and then she’s kneeling in front of Keith with him, analytical eyes checking him over for injuries.

 

“That big guy you spotted earlier was strangelling him.” Lance supplies when he watches her eyes flitter over the emerging bruises around his neck. She frowns, moving to gently turn the red paladin’s head to the side so she can examine them more, brow furrowing when she takes in all the self-inflicted scratch marks that came with Keith ripping the fabric away from himself.

 

Luckily for them all Keith’s finally stopped choking on air, one hand coming up to push his hair out of his eyes while he leans back and takes deep breaths. Honestly, he looks like absolute shit.

 

“Taking on that guy on your own was a really stupid idea.” Pidge bites out, worry turning to anger at the man in front of her. Keith only nods and closes his eyes, apparently unwilling to challenge her at all.

 

“How bad is it?” Lance asks, briefly wondering if they should call ahead and make sure there’s a pod ready for him.

 

As if the universe can sense his thoughts, a call from the castle ship comes through, revealing the worried faces of the others on the bridge.

 

“Paladins, are you okay?” Allura asks, and Lance can see as she looks from him to Keith to Pidge, probably checking on them all.

 

“Yeah, Red started going a little crazy in the hangar.” Hunk tells them, his own face coming into view on the comm feed. Pidge rises from her position on the floor to approach the camera fully, ready to give a report of the mission now that she’s satisfied that Keith’s injuries aren’t life threatening.

 

“We’re all fine.” Pidge scoffs at him and the other’s look a little skeptical from where they stand on the video feed. “Well, Keith’s a little injured.” He amends.

 

Apparently accusing Keith of not being okay is enough to rouse him from where he’s concentrating on his breathing slumped against the wall, and his mouth opens as if he’s going to deny it, but he only gets as far as trying to muster his voice before he’s cut off by another coughing fit, back heaving as he hunches back over himself.

 

“Keith?” Shiro’s voice comes through the comms, stable and soothing as ever but Lance can hear the concern behind it.

 

“He can’t talk right now.” Lance says, daring to rest a hand at Keith’s shoulder comfortingly. “He’s okay but he needs to go to the med bay once we get back.” Keith opens his eyes just barely to glare at him, which Lance quickly returns. There’s no way he’s letting him get away with retreating back to his room.

 

Distantly he can hear Pidge giving the mission report, answering Allura and Shiro’s questions and putting Hunk’s worries to rest. He can see that it annoys Keith that he can’t interject and tell them not to worry about him, can’t interrupt and try to claim that he’s fine. Whenever he tries Lance shushes him, knowing it’ll only leave to more heaving on air. “Don’t worry, I’ll do all the talking once we get back.”

 

The looks Keith gives him is irritated but not angry, he probably doesn’t have the energy for that right now, relaxing back into position in acquiescence. It’s strange for Keith to actually be letting Lance comfort him, even if his words are just weak attempts at jokes to try and lighten the mood. When Keith lifts his hand to massage at his temple Lance notices how much it's trembling, he’s probably crashing hard after the adrenaline rush earlier, and he doesn’t think before he places a hand over Keith’s forearm, giving it a squeeze that he hopes conveys the comfort that he obviously needs, lips lifting to try and give him a reassuring smile.

 

Keith doesn’t return the smile but he does lean a little more into where Lance has moved to sit beside him, eyes closing again to rest back against the wall and wait for the bombardment of questions that are probably waiting for them both back at the castle ship.

Chapter Text

Day 3 prompt: “who did this to you?”

 

Tags: Pre-Kerberos, implied child abuse.

 

Shiro hasn’t known Keith for very long, it’s been mere days since watching the kid ace all the tests the flight simulator could throw at him before taking off in his car out of spite, but apparently he’s managed to find himself in more trouble. Maybe Shiro had just been too optimistic in ignoring Keith’s teacher’s warning that the kid is a “discipline case”, or maybe he’d just wanted to think that the teacher was being too harsh.

 

But there’s no denying the urgency in the message he’s just received from the Principal of Keith’s current school and there’s no room to put off addressing the situation, apparently he’s needed right away to decide the kid’s future. Again.

 

Having so much power over a person’s life isn’t a responsibility he takes lightly or even particularly likes. The feeling of giving someone a chance at a life in the Garrison that they might not have otherwise been able to access is a good one, but it comes with the flip side that he can also decide if a person isn’t cut out for it.

 

He had hoped that offering Keith a place in the garrison would be enough to make the kid stop acting out and be on his best behaviour, at least for the time being. That hope is quickly dashed once he enters the school and makes his way to the office. One look at the serious faces as he approaches the Principal’s office is enough to dissipate that hope.

 

Sure enough Keith is sat in there with the Principal, looking smaller than usual from the way he’s hunched into his chair, stubbornly refusing to look up when Shiro enters the room and the Principal waves him in.

 

“What happened?” He asks for lack of a better way to phrase his questioning, better to get straight to the point. There’s an available chair next to where Keith is sitting in front of the Principal’s desk, and Shiro scoots himself into it, feeling somewhat like he’s back in school and about to be lectured. He glances to his side for a second to gauge the kid’s reaction but apparently he’s decided to just pretend that Shiro’s not there.

 

“One of his teachers noticed some marks on him, we think he’s been in another fight.” Shiro winces, if it’s true it will definitely not look good on Keith’s record when he tries to convince the garrison to take him on.

 

“With one of the other students?” He asks, turning to regard the boy, looking over the collar of his jacket to spot the rather large bruise that’s trying to peek out, but Keith quickly catches on and hunches his shoulders to block the two adults’ view with a scowl.

 

“We’re not sure, he’s refusing to talk.” Shiro doesn’t like the way this grown man is speaking about the child in front of them, a child who’s currently sat on his hands to keep from fidgeting, one knee bouncing anxiously in place. It sounds more like some sort of interrogation than anything else, no wonder the kid’s nervous. There could be any manner of explanations for bruises.

 

“Can I speak to him alone for a few minutes?” The Principal raises an eyebrow but eventually acquiesces, rising out of his seat and lumbering out of the office, though not without throwing another look at Keith as he leaves. It’s this stare-off that reveals more of the bruise marring Keith’s neck as he turns his head to glare at the Principal as he leaves.

 

It’s a nasty looking bruise, purples giving way to tender looking yellows in a pattern that looks almost familiar as Shiro stares at it, and it takes him a few seconds more to identify it as a mark left behind by a hand. Keith must have really got up close with whoever he’s been fighting against this time, but Shiro does note that in this instance Keith doesn’t seem like he’s the instigator, from what he can see of the kids hand whenever they reappear out from under him there’s definitely no signs of any bruising on his knuckles, maybe he just doesn't want to admit that he obviously didn't win this one.

 

It’s definitely starting to look more as if it’s Keith who’s been attacked, something that dawns on Shiro with no small amount of guilt when he realises he’d also fallen into the same thinking as the other adults – he’d also thought the fight must have been Keith’s doing in some way.

 

There’s something else about the print that’s nagging at the back of his mind, a distant voice shouting something that he can’t quite decode just yet. He doesn’t get much chance to look at the bruise any longer, because once Keith realises that Shiro’s looking at him his head quickly turns to face him, levelling the man with a sharp glare that dares him to ask him any questions. Unluckily for Keith, Shiro’s not so easily deterred.

 

He’s about to ask Keith more, mouth barely parting on words when the nagging feeling in the back of his head suddenly slams him with a realisation that crashes into his conscious with enough force to make him feel as if he’s been physically winded. The reason the handprint looks so strange on Keith’s neck is because it seem so out of proportion – it’s not something another kid’s hand would be big enough to do, surely. That just leaves a heavy implication that he definitely does not feel prepared enough to tackle, but apparently that’s exactly what he’s going to have to do today.

 

Something in the way his eyes probably widen tells Keith everything that he needs to know – that Shiro knows, or is at least suspicious, and he immediately ducks his head back into the position it was originally in, refusing to meet Shiro’s eyes with his own.

 

“Keith,” His voice is quiet, low, the name spoken on barely a breath, worried that Keith will only curl into himself more if he dares to speak any louder. Even that proves to be too much and he flinches even so slightly, eyes gluing themselves stubbornly onto the floor. His focus remains directly on his worn shoes as Shiro continues, deciding to stick to his original line of questioning rather than lay out all of his suspicions immediately. “Who did this?”

 

There’s no response, though really he isn’t sure whether he expected one or not. The only sign that Keith is listening is the way his brow furrows every so slightly, the gears in his head evidently turning to try and figure out whether he’s willing to bother trusting Shiro or not. Keith doesn’t speak, the only thing that fills the tense silence is the monotonous ticking of the wall clock, though Keith’s jaw is clenched so hard that he’s almost surprised he hasn’t heard some sort of crack yet.

 

Taking a chance, Shiro shuffles off of the chair to instead kneel closer to the boy and he tries not to be too hurt when Keith only tenses harder, looking about five seconds from bolting from the room. Once he situates himself properly so that he’s below Keith instead of towering above him something gives. It’s small but Keith does relax just the slightest bit, though he still looks as if he’s fighting a war with his head over whether he wants to actually engage with Shiro at all.

 

“You’re not in trouble, I just want to know.” Keith’s head angles out of view entirely, using his bangs to his advantage, if he tilts his head just right it becomes impossible to see his eyes and get a read on him.

 

“Was it one of the other kids?” It’s not a nice thought, but he honestly hopes that it was. The thought of the alternative has something dark forming in the pit of his stomach.

 

Shiro is stubborn.

 

Keith may be even more so, if the way he’s rooted himself to the chair and committed to not responding is any indication.

 

“Keith, I need to know.” He says, voice lowering even further, willing the kid before him to just confide in him. “I promise I really do want to help.” Still nothing, so he’ll just have to lay his suspicions out in the open.

 

“Was it an adult?” Even as he says that he hears when Keith grabs at the chair beneath him to ground himself, nails scraping across the plastic. Everything in him pushes him to act on his instincts, to treat Keith like most of the other kids he knows, to comfort him. But Keith isn’t like most kids, he’s seen too much already to really be comforted by the empty promises of a near stranger, too wary of the ulterior motives of every adult around him. His head tilts back up just enough that Shiro can properly see his face again. His scowl is gone, replaced by fear. Of what? Of Shiro?

 

“Will-” Keith’s voice is strange, strangled, as if he’s trying to manually hold back any tremors, “Will this stop me from going to the garrison?”

 

“What? No!” He raises his hands then immediately realises he doesn’t know what to do with them, he doesn’t want to touch Keith and shatter this brand new line of communication. “This isn’t your fault.”

 

Keith’s eyes close as he composes himself, and when they open there’s something too tired in them to belong on the face of a kid, a dull resignation in his voice when he next speaks.

 

“Then it doesn’t matter. Forget about it.”

 

The words temporarily derail Shiro’s thought processes, how does he even begin to tackle this? He leans a little closer, trying to convey some sense of security and comfort.

 

“Keith, I can’t just ignore this-”

 

“Yes you can!” Keith bolts up then whips around to face him, reminding Shiro of something like a cornered animal with no choice but to fight. “If I get into the garrison I’ll live there instead, it’s only a few more weeks living with my foster parents,” Well, there’s his confirmation of who the culprit is, even if it had already become apparent. “so it doesn’t matter.”

 

“Keith-” It’s the wrong thing to say, Keith immediately storms back in the direction of the door. Shiro thinks anything would be the wrong thing to say at this point. Keith’s beyond being reasoned with right now, obviously feeling exposed enough to resort to just lashing out.

 

“Stop trying to mess things up and leave me alone!” Is all he shouts, then he’s practically sprinting back out of the office and Shiro briefly catches a glimpse of the Principal’s bewildered face when the door opens for a split second before he’s left alone.

 

He can’t escape the feeling that he’s somehow made things worse. Keith seems to actively resent him now instead of trusting him, maybe he’d pushed too hard.

 

But no, he can fix this – has to fix it. He will just have to continue to be there for the kid and prove that he means what he says. He does care about him and want the best for him, even if Keith is too scared to see it, to believe it. The last thing Keith needs right now is to be proven right – for Shiro to abandon him at the first sign of trouble, so with a quick internal declaration he admits to proving Keith wrong.

Chapter Text

Day 4 prompt: comfort (alternative prompt)

 

Tags: Season 2, post galra reveal, fantastic racism.

 

 

“Keith.”

 

He doesn’t turn, can’t bear to look into Shiro’s eyes and confront the disgust that must be in them, how betrayed he must feel to find out that Keith apparently comes from the same people who imprisoned him for an entire year, subjecting him to unimaginable trauma in captivity.

 

So instead he keeps walking, the dull throb of his injured shoulder an almost welcome distraction from having to think too hard about what he’s just found out. It’s a good distraction, but it’s not perfect. Logically he knows he has to confront this right now, there’s certainly no way the rest of the team will be able to just ignore it. Not Shiro. Definitely not Allura.

 

Where he’s going isn’t important, he just needs to get away. From the Blades, from the team, from Shiro – before he has to deal with them all inevitably rejecting him.

 

A metal arm firmly grabs his forearm, making him flinch as Shiro stops him in his tracks, walking in front of Keith to block his exit. Shiro’s mouth moves but Keith barely hears it and he can’t look at his lips to try and read the words from them because then there’s a chance he’ll accidentally see whatever hateful expression is on Shiro’s face.

 

The other hand moves to grasp his other shoulder, retreating when he hisses in pain at the contact and settling instead at his neck, trying to turn his head to get his attention. Instead Keith can only crumple, the adrenaline rush of the Blade trials finally wearing off until he’s sinking down to his knees. Unfortunately, Shiro follows him down. He must want to get it over with now, to tell him what he really thinks of Keith now that everything makes sense. Why he doesn’t fit in properly with the others. Why his temper can be so short sometimes.

 

Shiro’s still talking, still trying to get Keith’s attention and Keith turns his head out of Shiro’s surprisingly gentle hold, choosing instead to look away from the other man, his next sentence cutting off whatever it is that Shiro’s saying.

 

“I didn’t know.” The words come out weaker than he wanted, even he’s not sure if he’d believe him. Shiro falls quiet in response and Keith finally dares to look up.

 

“I didn’t know.” He states again, tone verging on desperate, trembling with the effort of trying to sound convincing when the truth is that at this point he’s even managing to doubt himself. Did he really never know? Surely there must be things he’s forgetting, things about himself that must be different that he’s just pretended not to notice. No doubt if he’s not immediately rejected someone’s going to want to run a thorough examination of him and point out all of his differences for everyone to see. But for now he can’t think outside of his pleading for Shiro to understand that he’s not a traitor. “Shiro, I swear-”

 

“I believe you.”

 

It takes a few seconds for the words to hit, long enough for Keith to already be in the middle of stuttering out some sort of apology before he realises that Shiro has spoken. “I…. what?”

 

The contempt that he’d expected on Shiro’s face just isn’t there. What is there instead is Shiro’s usual understanding, marred only by concern for him. For Keith. The person he’d just found out is part galra. “I believe you, Keith.”

 

For a minute Keith can’t respond, too many thoughts rushing through his head at once and his jaw has decided to stubbornly clench and forbid him from getting any words out past the searing burn he can feel in the back of his throat, vision blurring with tears that he will not let fall. Not that he has much of a choice when Shiro mutters out a small ‘Oh, bud.’ and pulls him closer, cradling Keith’s head to the crook of his neck. Keith in turn makes a small, choked sound, immediately losing the battle against his own tears as they decide to fall anyway, only increasing when Shiro’s hand cards down and through his hair in soothing strokes.

 

Who knows how long they kneel there with Keith willing himself into composure. He shouldn’t make this about himself - out of everyone he’s not the victim here. Even chanting those words in his head like a mantra it takes a good few minutes for him to rein in control of himself, words finally returning to him.

 

“I’m sorry.” Shiro’s hushing him but be can’t stop now or he’ll never be able to start again. “I don’t know what to do. I can’t be a paladin anymore. Allura-” He breathes in another shaky breath. “She’s never going to forgive me for this.”

 

It’s telling that Shiro doesn’t respond to that line of thought. Instead he only squeezes him a little closer, redirecting Keith’s focus when they eventually part, pulling Keith back up to his feet and grasping his uninjured shoulder. “Why don’t we get you to the medical bay for now.”

Chapter Text

Day 5 prompt: anxiety (alternative prompt)

 

Tags: Early season 1, space uncle Coran.

 

 

Spending an entire year isolated in a desert - obsessing over the vague clues of a conspiracy theory that had belonged to only himself - hasn’t exactly done wonders for Keith’s social skills. Not that he thinks he’s ever had particularly good ones, but there’s a definite gulf between himself and the other paladins.

 

For the past year his life has almost entirely consisted of his shack in the desert with only himself for company, to suddenly be sharing a space with six other people will clearly take some getting used to.

 

Pidge, Hunk and Lance already know each other, that much was immediately clear. The three of them being close and at ease around each other isn’t unexpected. What baffles Keith is the fact that everyone else is apparently already comfortable with each other, lounging around together and sharing easy jokes over meal times.

 

He’s the exception though, of course.

 

He has Shiro, he guesses, but Shiro’s pretty busy now, being the leader of Voltron and all, and has been spending increasing amounts of time around Allura and Coran, forming plans and learning about the currently active civilizations in the universe who might be willing to join them against the Galra. Allura and Coran are learning along with him too, new peoples have sprung up in the ten thousand years – or is it decaphoebes - they’ve been asleep and old ones have long been wiped out or disappeared.

 

Lance has apparently decided that he is his rival. He isn’t sure what exactly he’s done to the other boy but this isn’t exactly the first time someone has hated him right off the bat, it’s practically a talent of his at the point – so unlikable that some people are able to single him out as someone to scorn without even having to know him for very long.

 

Pidge and Hunk are Lance’s friends, and whenever they’re not with the blue paladin they’re working on something technical that takes up most of their attention. Keith usually just feels in the way if he’s around them when they’re nose deep in tech, trading ideas back and forth.

 

The worst is when they all gather for meal times, voices overlapping with each other in conversation as they easily get to know one another better. Keith usually just tries to stay quite, he’s too good at accidentally spurring Lance into taunting him to want to risk saying too much. He doesn’t get away with being completely silent – Shiro usually prods him into contributing something to the conversation – but he definitely tries his hardest to be.

 

It’s been another hard day of training – Allura’s been pushing them hard to try and get them to reach their full potential. Since forming Voltron she’s had a lot more positive outlook about their likelihood of success, and they’ve each been trying their hardest to keep it that way, none of them want to go back to the days of being randomly woken up by her testing their reaction times to the emergency alarms.

 

Unfortunately for Keith, team training means having to interact with the others and today’s been all about close quarters combat. Training with Shiro and Pidge had been fine, Shiro because it was just like old times and Pidge because she’d been fully in training mode, all about learning what she can without taking much time for small talk, analytical as ever. Practicing with Hunk had been nerve-wracking in a strange way. Not because Keith wasn’t confident in his own fighting abilities, he was clearly more skilled in this area of combat than the yellow paladin if the ease in which he’d consistently gained the upper hand against the other boy was anything to go by.

 

No, what had made Keith so anxious about training with Hunk is the fact that Hunk likes to joke around as he trains. It throws Keith off, and by the end of his spar with Hunk he’d been sweating more out of anxiety than exertion. Keeping up with Hunk’s moves had been fine but his jokes had been a whole other story, so many had gone straight over Keith’s head, if Hunk's occasionally raising eyebrow was anything to go by, that he genuinely doesn’t know how many of them he’d missed completely. A lot if Lance’s snarky comments had been anything to go by, occasionally quipping something along the lines of it being hopeless to try and joke with Keith. The jokes Keith had managed to catch he’d fumbled, responding awkwardly even if Hunk had tried to smooth it over and set him at ease.

 

Training with Lance had been the worst though. It usually is. Beating him in a spar made him irritated at Keith’s skills and trying to teach him moves or go easy on him only seemed to make him even more annoyed, biting out remarks about how Keith ‘doesn’t have to rub it in’.

 

They were still at it when Shiro calls for them to stop for the day, Lance shoving himself out of Keith’s hold with an frustrated huff, side-eyeing him as he moves to leave with the others. Keith can’t find it in himself to join them.

 

“Keith.” Shiro’s voice breaks him out of his thoughts and his stomach plummets when he sees all of their eyes watching him curiously. “You coming?”

 

“No I-” He gestures vaguely around the training room. “I’m going to stay and work on a few things.”

 

“Of course you are.” Lance scoffs, eyes rolling as he turns to leave, though of course Keith misses the joking tone of his words. Instead all he registers is that he’s annoyed him and that anxious feeling spikes once again. He thought Lance would be glad to not have to see him, but apparently saying that he’s going to continue training without them hadn’t been the right answer.

 

Shiro looks at him hesitantly, as if weighing up his options, but eventually he too turns to leave with the others and Keith breathes out a sigh of relief, watching the doors shut behind them. Then it’s just him and the dull hum of the castle ship for company. It’s distinctly unlike the shack, here there’s none of the noises of nature around him to soothe his anxieties away, just the same constant drone that stops him from ever being fully at ease.

 

He does the only thing he can think of – and sets straight back to work continuing training, setting the training bot to a level that’s challenging but not too overwhelming. It’s all he can do to take his mind off of how badly he’s doing with getting to know the team. When he’s training he doesn’t have to think past the strain of his muscles occasionally protesting a risky move against the bot, he just has to settle into the rhythm. It’s familiar, it’s easy.

 

It’s easily over an hour before he finally stops, though it’s not easy to tell the passage of time in the castle ship since all the ways to measure it in space are still so unfamiliar to him – he at least thinks a varga is a little over an Earth hour. He eases himself to the floor against the wall, panting with exertion and doesn’t hear when the door to the training room slides open again.

 

“Oh, there you are number four!” The sound of Coran’s voice makes him jump, eyes darting to where the altean is practically prancing into the room.

 

“You weren’t there at meal time.” Coran says, voice bright as ever and eyes crinkling at the corners. “Not to worry, there’s plenty leftover if you want to go now.”

 

It’s tempting, but he can ignore the gnawing in his stomach if he needs to, it’s a skill he’d acquired as a kid. Shiro might think it’s unhealthy, but it’s pretty useful now so what does he know. If he goes to eat now the others will probably still be there in the lounge and Keith doesn’t want to interrupt by showing up.

 

“Thanks, but it’s alright, I already ate.” He replies and Coran’s smile immediately becomes just that bit tighter, but he doesn’t actually call Keith out on his obvious lie.

 

“In that case, I could use your help.” He says instead, barely even waiting for Keith’s reply before he’s motioning him out of the training deck, giving him no choice but to follow.

 

It's when they head in the direction of the lounge and kitchen that Keith starts to get that familiar tingling sensation of nerves and when Coran actually leads him into it he almost wants to make some sort of excuse to immediately back out when everyone briefly glances at their entrance, though they’re all quick to return to whatever it is they’re doing.

 

Coran busies himself finding something in one of the drawers, muttering a small ‘aha!’ when he eventually pulls out what looks like some sort of small screwdriver, though the tip looks nothing like the ones that would be found on Earth. Keith also doesn’t miss that as he pulls out the tool he also grabs one of the energy bars the paladin’s have taken to having when they really have no time for a full meal, casually throwing it for Keith to catch.

 

From where he’s lounging on the sofa Lance opens his mouth but to his surprise Coran’s cheerful voice hurriedly interrupts whatever he’s about to say. “No time to talk my lad I need Keith here to help me with a small technical issue.”

 

“Need any more help?” Hunk asks, looking at them from over the sofa, Pidge’s mop of unruly hair soon appearing to join him.

 

“Oh no that’s quite alright.” Coran waves them off easily. “I only really need one other person.” Then he’s marching Keith back out, quickly ducking into what looks like some sort of store room and digging around in a mess of parts and Keith can't even hope to distinguish one husk of machinery from another.

 

“What exactly do you need help with?” Keith asks as he watches Coran locate and haul up the strange looking tech, motioning for Keith to help him lift it before he’s guiding them back in the direction they’d come from.

 

“I’m going to set up this small medical bot for the training room.” He explains. “That way none of you will have to run to the medical bay if you get a small injury during training.”

 

Keith nods along, helping even as his overworked muscles protest at the weight of the heavy metal and he’s glad when they finally make it into the room so they can set it down.

 

Coran lowers to the floor and Keith follows with him, digging out the space screwdriver to start messing about with the circuitry of the bot. It doesn’t take Keith long to notice that he’s not being particularly helpful, more than anything it feels as if Coran just wants someone here to talk to as a way to talk himself through any bumps he encounters as he tries to restart the machinery. Keith asks small questions here and there, questioning the extent the bot can help before it reaches its limit and a full on healing pod is required, not even really noticing when he pulls out the energy bar and finishes it off, too busy absorbed in watching Coran’s skilled hands work. Coran will occasionally point something out, waiting for Keith’s small nods before he continues off on whatever tangent he’s happened to go on.

 

“You’re quite quiet really, aren’t you.” Is the only thing he does eventually say that catches Keith off guard while he’s mid wondering aloud if Shiro would let the bot scan his prosthetic arm so that it recognises it as a part of his body and not a foreign object. If it was anyone else it might sound like an accusation but with Coran it’s more of an observation that he’s saying out loud to himself, no judgement in his voice, instead there's a soft smile playing at his lips, eyes wrinkling in the corners. “That’s alright.” Then he’s promptly continuing his one sided conversation as if he had never interrupted it in the first place and Keith settles back in place.

 

Time moves surprisingly fast while he’s watching the older man work, it’s only when the automatic lighting dims a tad that he realises the castle ship is going into its night cycle. They could manually disable it and continue on with their work, but Coran looks as if he’s finished anyway as he secures the hatches of the bot and settles it into place, stretching a knot out of his shoulder from sitting hunched over the tech for too long.

 

“Well then, it’s probably about time I turn in for the night. We’ve a lot to do tomorrow.” He nods to himself, satisfied with his work for the day..

 

“I- yeah, me too.” Keith replies, shuffling a little where he stands. “Oh, and thanks.” He says, maybe a little too quickly and quietly for Coran to hear.

 

He does though, if the small smile that graces his face is anything to go by. Sensing that nothing else needs to be said, the altean pats him on the back before he’s bounding away to turn in for the night, leaving Keith to make his own way back to his room, which he’s grateful for since it spares him having to elaborate on why he’s thanking Coran in the first place. He gets the feeling that Coran knows this, and he has to reassess what he’d first thought of the man, he’s a lot more perceptive than he’d thought, though maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, he’d obviously has experience with those younger than him after all his years watching Allura grow up.

 

To his surprise Keith actually finds himself relaxed as he heads to bed for the night, turning in to fall asleep almost as soon as his head hits the pillow.

Chapter Text

Day 6 prompt: touch starved

 

Tags: Love bug (platonic) vaguely truth serum-y really, implied child abuse, abandonment issues, platonic cuddling,

 

 

The way Hunk is tutting as he wraps a bandage over the oozing sore on his exposed wrist is really starting to get on Keith’s nerves, but at least he’s not gagging anymore, even if he is looking a bit woozy as he watches the blood slowly seep into the white of the material.

 

It hadn’t seemed so bad when at first, a small pinprick from some sort of vaguely arachnid looking creature that had barely left a mark. At first. That had soon changed.

 

Thinking back, Keith’s willing to reluctantly admit that it might have been a good idea to get Hunk’s attention when the bite had first begun to burn, but he’s willing to admit that he’s maybe a little bit stubborn, and Hunk had only become suspicious when he watched Keith scratch at his wrist a few too many times to be merely adjusting it. What he’d at first though was just a sheen of sweat stemming from exertion – this jungle was ridiculously humid – soon turned out to be from a fevered sweat that was setting in, making him both shiver and feel too hot at the same time, it was a confusing mess. When Hunk had finally managed to get him to reluctantly reveal his injury it was swelling to concerning levels, the skin red with concerning flecks of black in some places.

 

“You really should have said something.”

 

“I know.” Keith feels small compared to how Hunk is looking down at him, shoulders hunched forward, dark eyes darting between the jungle surrounding them and the dense undergrowth at their feet as if he expects another weird alien bug to appear and take another bite out of one of them.

 

“It’s not good for you to hide injuries. We’re a team, you know.”

 

“I know.” He feels bad at the way Hunk flinches away from the venom in his words, but whatever venom is currently making its way through his blood is taking effect fast and they need to hurry back before it gets too serious. “I would have told you, but I didn’t think it looked too bad at first.”

 

It takes a couple more minutes of Hunk flitting between concerned exasperation and slightly panicky fear before he manages to formulate a plan. A plan which unfortunately involves Hunk having to guide them both back out of the jungle and into the yellow lion when Keith gets too disorientated to properly find his way around. Red will just have to follow along behind them on the way back to the castle ship, but he’s sure she won’t mind, if her concerned growls are anything to go by she just wants him to get back and get checked over.

 

He groans in discomfort as he settles down on the floor in Yellow’s cockpit, wrist throbbing though the initial oozing of the wound has started to settle surprisingly quickly, maybe his body just had a quick but painful reaction to the bite and the worst of it is over. But Keith should really know better than to get his hopes up like that, and he continues to shiver through the worst of the fever as Hunk pulls up a comm link to the others on the castle ship.

 

It’s strange. The lions' cockpits aren’t that big, there’s no way for Hunk to get very far away from him. But for some reason as Hunk moves away from Keith and towards the console the beginnings of fear begin to grip him, the thought of being left alone even if it’s just at the back of the small space making him uneasy.

 

“-yeah, the reaction happened pretty quickly I think, but he didn’t tell me exactly when he was bitten.” Hunk’s voice floats through to him, apparently he’d been so consumed in his thoughts that the yellow paladin had managed to get through to the castle ship and start talking with them without him noticing.

 

Coran hums a long, drawn out sound, one hand rubbing over his chin from where Keith can see his projection. “Can you show me what the bite looks like?”

 

“Yeah, one second.” Hunk replies, and Keith tries to squash the confusing happiness he feels when his teammate rounds back to come towards him again. “Sorry buddy.” He says as he hauls Keith back up to half drag him towards the console, knowing that the red paladin isn't always massively comfortable with physical contact.

 

Actually, Keith decides, he doesn’t mind this. Usually the others touching him makes him nervous, jumpy, scared of something he can’t identify, but right now he actually just wants to sink into Hunk’s side and stay there for the foreseeable future. His wrist is moved towards the camera and Hunk gently removes the bandages, revealing the bite mark underneath. It looks better than it did when it first started oozing. Weirdly better, actually. It still looks bad but it’s dried up quite a lot, a small scab forming where the weird space bug had bitten him.

 

“Oh!” It’s not a bad ‘oh’, more surprised and familiar. “That looks like a pyal bite.” He must be looking at the very distinctive looking black specks that are gaining ground over the rest of his skin, though their expansion is slowing enough to put Keith at ease. “You’ll be perfectly fine number four – you know there was a trend for a few decaphoebes where people would get purposely bitten so they could act on things they were too scared to do normally – why I once tried it in my younger years so I’d be brave enough to try and barter with-”

 

“Coran.” Keith grits out. “What exactly does this bite do?”

 

“To put it simply, it amplifies feeling, emotions - things you want to do. For example if you were feeling a bit thirsty the bite will convince you that you need to drink as much as possible immediately. True feelings come out quite often after a pyal bite – there was one time an addar I was friends with got bitten and instead of going to declare his love to an ogar we were friends with like he intended to do he ended up declaring all the reasons I annoyed him it was really quite rude-”

 

“Great.” Keith groans, sinking back down to the floor when Hunk lets him go so he can rest his head on his knees. “How long will this last?”

 

“That’s hard to say, different species metabolise things differently, humans tend to metabolise things slower than alteans, though I suppose you’re not entirely human are you.” He says thoughtfully.

 

Keith perks up a bit at that. “Do galra burn through things like this quickly?”

 

“Ah, unfortunately not lad.” Coran replies apologetically. “Even slower than humans in most cases I’m afraid. You might be looking at the effects of this lasting for around three quintants.”

 

A sound almost like a whine escapes from him at that and he curls up tighter into himself, willing the throbbing in his wrist away. He can hear Hunk talking with Coran but he doesn’t concentrate on the words, too busy throwing himself a small pity party on the floor of the cockpit to care about whatever it is they say to each other, he only zones back in when Hunk comes to crouch in front of him again.

 

Hunk’s hand comes to rest firmly but gently on the forearm of his unwounded arm, and suddenly the throbbing in his other arm seems to go away entirely. “We’re gonna head back now, are you okay where you are?” He asks, eyebrows pinched together in concern. Keith nods dumbly, too distracted by how fine he feels now compared to a few seconds ago, an out of place but pleasant feeling replacing the pain instead. Like getting into dry clothes after being caught in the rain, or settling into a freshly made bed. 

 

“Alright.” Then with a reassuring smile Hunk’s leaving to go to the pilot’s chair and after a small delay the pain starts up again and he cradles his wrist closer to his chest with a small hiss that has Hunk shooting him a concerned look from where he’s sat before they’re taking off.

 

The pain had lessened with Hunk next to him - more than lessened it had disappeared entirely into an almost euphoric feeling that he wants back immediately. If this is his body’s reaction to the bite, telling him that he actually wants to be around people more than he admits then that’s really not news to him. He knows this, he just doesn’t dare act on it. The other’s have already decided that he’s some sort of ‘lone wolf’ who should be left alone most of the time, he doesn’t want them to see any of his vulnerabilities, an old fear telling him that they’ll only use it against him at some point. More than that he doesn’t want to feel like some sort of burden by relying on them, doesn’t want them to feel obligated to be nice to him or anything.

 

There’s no ignoring the spikes of discomfort that keep shooting through him though, aching in a way that leaves him breathless and panting to try and catch his breath again.

 

“Keith, you good back there?” Hunk worries, turning his head to look back at him from where he’s piloted the lion into a relaxed cruise, the cockpit ceasing all of it's previous rattling until a dim quiet settles over them instead.

 

No, he isn’t good, he wants Hunk to come over here, but he bites his tongue to stop himself from voicing that. He can’t. What will the other boy think of him if he admits that? He’s tried this before, admitting that he wants any sort of physical comfort usually ends horrifically. More than a few times when he’d tried it with foster parents he’d been met with hostility, some telling him he needed to be tougher and ‘be a man’ and leaving marks on his skin that were the complete opposite of comfort. Mr. Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Aston were a few among a long line of others that he’s honestly forgotten the names of as he was ricocheted through the foster care system from family to family, staying with some for a few months and others for only a few weeks. What never changed though was the fact that all of them without fail sent him back to the home, citing various different reasons, some, like Mr. Williams and a few others, would claim that he was too clingy and they couldn’t handle a kid who needed so much attention. Those were mostly the earlier homes though, by the time he’d been in the system for a few years he’d learned better.

 

Which just lead to him being rejected by other families for being too aloof. He could never figure out what any of them wanted from him, he still can’t figure out what anybody wants from him. The others tease him for being so standoffish but there's the fear that if he ever said how he really feels that they'd just tease him for that instead.

 

The pain in his body lowers to a hum when he sees Hunk leave the chair to approach out of the corner of his eye, disappearing entirely into an almost high when he moves and cups his cheek, tilting his head from side to side and looking into his probably glazed eyes with concern. The euphoria is somehow worse than the former agony of the bite, and he can't prevent a strangled sob from leaving his throat that only has Hunk pressing closer into his space, he can’t take this anymore, the urge to break down and tell Hunk only rising higher by the second.

 

“Don't.” He bites out before immediately going back to gnawing at his lip, trying to will himself from saying more. He almost wishes he’d reacted to the bite the same way Coran’s former friend apparently had, becoming hostile and pushing everyone away even more, but that’s not how this bite works, and that’s not how he truly feels about the others so of course that’s not how it’s manifested.

 

“Don’t what?” Hunk asks, backing off a bit. “Sorry, is me being around making you feel worse?”

 

Keith looks up in surprise, pained tears building in his eyes when he takes in the hurt on Hunk’s expression, like he believes that Keith hates him and the bite is making him want Hunk to go away. “No-” Try as he might he can’t fight anymore, Hunk being sad is the final straw that makes him lose the battle against the venom, body screaming at him to do what he wants to do – to erase the hurt Hunk’s feeling and to get rid of the pain in the humiliatingly vulnerable way he knows will work. His body moves without his permission, on autopilot as he lunges forward towards the yellow paladin. If Hunk thought that he secretly hated him and was about to attack him he’s just got the surprise of his life when instead Keith’s arms wrap around him tightly, pressing himself as close to the other as physically possible, hands clutching uselessly at the fabric at the back of Hunk’s shirt.

 

This is it, it’s going to happen again. Another person is going to react badly to him being so needy, is probably going to grab him and shove him away with disgust.

 

But this is Hunk, so of course that doesn’t happen, and Keith doesn’t know why he ever doubted him when he feels Hunk’s arms finally move to wrap securely around him, one hand landing on his head where he’s hidden his face against one of Hunk’s shoulders in embarrassment.

 

“Oh buddy, why didn’t you just say?” Hunk hums, vague amusement present in his voice but it isn’t teasing and it’s a million times better than the horror and disgust he’d expected to be met with, making him squash his face into the other even harder when he realises that Hunk really doesn’t mind. Hunk's a good hugger. He'd always assumed as much but now here's the proof in the comforting weight of Hunk's arms around him.

 

He lets Keith stay there even after more than a few minutes have passed, starting to hum something Keith doesn’t recognise after a little while, and he has to bite back a sob when the pleasant vibrations under his cheek only make him feel even better. Time passes as if he’s experiencing some sort of high – and he guesses he is, really – before they’re flying into the hangar where the others are probably waiting for them.

 

And oh, the thought of the others only makes the feeling stronger, no doubt he’s going to make an absolute ass of himself with his vulnerability when he gets back to the castle ship, having to admit that he doesn’t want to be as alone as the others seem to assume he does.

 

This is going to be a very long three quintants.

Chapter Text

Day 7 prompt: numbness

 

Tags: Stabbing, bloodloss, protective Lance, worried team, open ending.

 

 

Keith prides himself on being clear and in control during battles. Sure, emotions might get the better of him sometimes but he’s never usually so… lost.

 

The world around him feels distant somehow, like he’s watching through some sort of screen. He can see his hands wielding his bayard and watches the rough motions of his body as he takes out a small squad of enemies. But that’s all he’s doing, watching. It’s almost like the connection between his brain and body has gone dark, something muddying it. As it is the only think he can feel with any real clarity is the disorientation of losing so much sensation. Perhaps he should be worried, but for now the battle has to be his top priority.

 

One of the galra fighters had gained the advantage in his last scuffle, landing a punch to his gut that had knocked the air from his lungs and sent him stumbling to the ground until he’d managed to pull himself together and carry on to take them out. Maybe the adrenaline rush is wearing off and that hit they’d landed on him had done more damage than he thought, making him woozy from the lack of oxygen. It’s a little annoying that he can’t feel much at the moment to figure out or remember where exactly it was on his stomach that he’d been hit, if it was higher maybe he’s bruised a rib or two.

 

Hunk and Lance are somewhere nearby. No. Just Lance. Hunk is… with the other paladins, he thinks, taking charge of protecting key evacuation points for civilians fleeing the devastation with Shiro while Pidge works on scrambling any empire surveillance to use the confusion to their advantage.

 

A few more fights where he’s more of a witness than a participant and then the battlefield is falling strangely quiet, or maybe it’s just the ringing in his ears, a dizziness overcoming him that forces him to tilt his head back to the sky to try to take in a few deep breaths and clear his head. He can’t risk shutting his eyes and leaving himself vulnerable, so instead he focuses on the the warships dotted throughout the sky. A few have been taken out, their metal carcasses burning up as they fall through the planet’s atmosphere, but most of them appear to be leaving, retreating into space.

 

That’s… good. The battle must be going well for them.

 

Something is demanding his attention. There’s an annoying sound in his ear, or maybe there are different sounds, the tones of it changes frequently and only increase when his vision flickers a little and he lets out a groan. The noises are quiet for a few ticks then before they continue, somehow faster and more frantic than before and Keith stills, trying to figure out where exactly the sounds are coming from when the battlefield around him has fallen so still. Somewhere in the back of his mind he briefly thinks he hears his name being called but he brushes it off as his imagination.

 

The only warning he gets that he’s being approached is some sort of gut feeling that wills him to turn around in barely enough time to stagger back at the lone galra storming towards him, though they don’t have a blaster or anything so Keith figures he’s got a pretty good chance of being able to take him out if he can just will his body to co-operate and move in time with his thoughts. Or maybe it’s his thoughts that are slow, dulling the instincts that make him such a good red paladin.

 

Luckily for him though Lance is indeed nearby, he’d been right about that at least and the garla’s body slumps to the ground just before he manages to reach Keith, stopped in his tracks by their blue paladin's sharpshooting. Keith only just manages to step to the side in time to avoid being crushed by the falling deadweight of the enemy’s body.

 

“There you are! Why weren’t you answering?” Lance’s face is stormy as he approaches, fear projecting into anger that dims when Keith doesn’t answer past what must just be a blank stare because he can’t find any words right now, as soon as he thinks them he loses his train of thought before he can even try to part his lips around them. “Keith?” He asks instead, lowering his blaster until it eventually transforms back into his bayard. Then it’s suddenly clattering uselessly to the ground when Lance eyes roam him properly, face transforming into a look of horror that Keith can’t understand.

 

“Oh, fuck.” Lance’s steps quicken as he strides towards him, arms out as if he’s worried he might fall. “Oh fuck.”

 

Is there something wrong? Maybe he really is fading into nothingness like his senses want him to believe he is, because he can barely feel it when Lance grabs at him as if he’s about to cradle him.

 

“Shit, shit.” The words would sound more normal if they were coming out of Keith’s mouth but this is Lance so there must really be something wrong, Keith’s just not sure what it has to do with him. Those sounds return to his ears and his brain finally catches up with him. The comms in the helmets. Right. Those sounds are the team’s voices, maybe they were calling him before, too.

 

“Keith is hurt.” Is Lance hyperventilating? Maybe he’s worn out from the fight.

 

“How hurt?” Shiro’s voice comes across to him clearer than the others, though he thinks he can hear Hunk briefly panicking in the background.

 

“Um- I think- I think he’s been stabbed by something.” Has he? Keith wants to shake his head but is reminded of the dizziness that keeps hitting him whenever he tries to move it too fast and instead settles on looking down at where Lance’s gaze is focused.

 

“Oh.” That's definitely more blood than should be there. He’s pretty sure there shouldn’t be any. He doesn’t want Lance to worry when he’s not even convinced that it’s his, it could be from any one of the enemies he’d taken out with his bayard. “’s not mine?” He tries, but apparently Lance isn’t convinced.

 

“Don’t talk, just-” Lance looks around frantically as if he’s going to find the answer and pull it out from the air, giving up and coming up behind Keith to grab him a little more securely.

 

“One of us is coming.” Shiro’s voice is firm, in charge. A leader that Keith will never be even if he muttered something about wanting Keith to take over after him once, but Keith likes to think that Shiro was just delirious that day. “Pidge, do you have their location?”

 

“Yellow’s closest.” Pidge replies, Keith just barely catches it as he’s lowered to the ground by Lance.

 

A startled hiss leaves his mouth when he reaches the ground, sensation rushing back to him and almost bowling him over with the immediate pain that hits him. His stomach feels like it’s on fire, like someone is holding a flame to him and not letting up. He doesn’t want to admit it, but maybe Lance was right. Dark blood is seeping at an alarming rate from a gap in his armour and apparently has been doing for some time if the way his entire lower half is covered in it is any indication. Numbly, he looks at the direction he’d come from and takes in the steady path of blood that he must have trailed throughout the battlefield, no wonder that enemy solider had found him.

 

“I’m on it, I’ll be there in about a dobosh.” Hunk’s voice filters through. Hunk who hates anything to do with blood, and Keith’s about to go bleed all over the inside of his lion.

 

“But,” Keith begins, but he has to stop when another wave of pain threatens to tear a scream from his mouth. “… you don’t like blood.”

 

“Don’t worry about that right now.” Hunk’s voice is gentle and soothing in the way only Hunk’s really is, different to the way Shiro’s levelheadedness is comforting. Hunk isn’t good at hiding his fear but he is good at looking after others.

 

“...kay.” Hunk must be really good at being comforting today, because it feels like the fight is leaving his very bones, body slumping back against Lance’s hold on him. Lance is talking, he isn’t sure if he’s talking to him or to the rest of the team but he can vaguely feel the vibrations against his back, too tired to respond when he’s shaken a little, Lance trying to get his attention.

 

“…be here soon.” Lance’s face is right next to his now, he looks like he’s shouting but Keith can’t hear him clearly, as if he’s trying to communicate with him through water. He’s too tired for this, can’t the blue paladin go bother someone else for once? Allura maybe, it’s her turn to deal with him for a little bit. He’s shaken more when he closes his eyes but honestly the castles emergency alarms could be going off and he wouldn’t be able to pull himself back from sleep. “please… have to stay awake...” But he can’t, giving in to the temptation of letting himself drift off.

Chapter Text

Day 8 prompt: “definitely just a cold”

 

Tags: Sickfic, team as family, fantastical illness.

 

Keith had been making himself scarce for a little while, uncharacteristically shirking training responsibilities and not staying any longer than necessary around the others for mission briefs. He would avoid joining the others at meal times, it’s only when Shiro physically goes to his room and drags him out that he finally relents and does so, disheveled beyond just messy hair, he looks like he hasn’t slept in days. It’s a startling sight for the others when he follows Shiro and joins them in the lounge to eat, they can only marvel at how much he’s somehow deteriorated since seeing him briefly last night.

 

“Keith, you okay?” It’s Pidge that finds her voice first, and Keith doesn’t reply beyond looking at his teammates through tired eyes, pouting stubbornly as if he's annoyed that everyone's clocking on to him being sick so easily.

 

“I think,” Shiro starts, one had firmly on Keith’s back. “we need to take a trip to see Coran.”

 

“What?” Keith mumbles, ineffectually trying to back away which only presses him harder into Shiro’s hand. “It’s just a cold, I’ll be fine in a few days.”

 

Shiro tries to reason with him, but because it’s Keith, of course he continues to protest, forcing Shiro to sign and pull down the collar of his shirt every so slightly, exposing the skin of his neck for the other paladins to see, each of them sucking in a breath at the sight. Pidge is curious as ever and strides closer, tugging the fabric to see for herself even as Keith weakly glares at her. The… markings? Rash? That mars his neck is a strange sight to behold, specks of a bright blue colour that have no business ever naturally occurring on the skin dot his neck, presumably travelling down the rest of his body.

 

For a second Pidge thinks it’s some sort of prank, something Matt would pull on her when they were younger – actually never mind, Matt would probably still pull something like this now. But this is Keith and Shiro, Shiro wouldn’t want to prank the team with something that would worry them and Keith would never pretend to be sick when he barely likes admitted when he’s ill for real. And he does look ill, the closer Pidge looks at him, eyes bloodshot with dark circles marring the skin underneath, he must have been trying to deal with this illness himself for the past few quintants, long enough for him to be losing sleep over it.

 

Hunk tuts a little at Keith’s stubbornness, saying “I think this is more than a cold buddy.” at the same time that Lance mutters a small, not entirely unserious “you’re not contagious are you?”.

 

They all hear Lance but none of them pull back, too worried for their teammate to worry about whether Keith could pass on whatever the hell is wrong with him to them, huddling close as they make a group trip to the medical bay, Pidge pinging Coran along the way. It’s hard to ignore the way Keith starts to droop as they walk for a little longer, apparently all out of energy if the way he begins to lean into Shiro is any indication.

 

He must really feel like shit if he’s willing to look anything resembling vulnerable in front of them. Pidge is pretty sure that he trusts them by now, after everything they’ve gone through, but Keith has a thing about always looking strong and she gets the feeling that whatever is the cause of all his issues trusting the others is not something to take too personally, they’ll all just have to be patient. So for him to look so openly vulnerable must mean he’s either feeling more comfortable around them or he’s just too weak to care.

 

Trust Keith to be the one to contract some sort of space rash, the only question left is where he could have picked it up from. They haven't been to the space mall recently, so at least they can narrow down the species that they've come into contact with on their missions. There were the Taujeerians, but surely their biology is too different for something to be contractible to both them and humans. Except Keith is different. They all come to the same conclusion at once, the sight of Keith so uncaring of his image, not even trying to protest being taken care of, jogging their memories.

 

“You don’t think-” Lance starts, stopping briefly to nudge Keith a little more securely into Shiro’s side when he starts to slip loose. “That this is because of that mission a few days ago?

 

It must be, the timing is too perfect and Keith’s actions too similar to what they had seen, all of them casting their minds back to that one very strange mission a few quintants back.

 


 

It was supposed to be a risky information extraction mission – a quick smash and grab into a Galra base for military intel. The team had expected to be met with soldiers, sentries, every defense available in the base’s arsenal, but that’s not what had happened. Instead, what they had faced was a half-assed automated defense system that was easily incapacitated by the joint efforts of Hunk and Pidge’s engineering skills, leaving the base so defenseless it was almost sad.

 

“This is weird.” Lance’s voice had had a wary edge to it as they stalked down the eerily quite hallway, twitching at any movement as if they expected it to all turn out to be a trap, like the galra wanted to lull them into a false sense of security before they’re overrun.

 

“Yeah,” Hunk murmured, blaster still held in a slightly shaking grip. “Why is no one attacking us?”

 

It turned out that there were galra soldiers on the base, but they were in no state to respond to an attack. They entered a room that must have been one of the sleeping quarters, but instead of the galra inside springing into action and attacking they barely even seemed to register their entrances. It was a bizarre sight, seeing the soldiers they so often feared strewn about the floor, curled up around themselves and in some cases each other. Even when a few did notice them they didn’t move to respond, in some cases a few even struggled to heave themselves as far away as they could from the paladins – which wasn’t very far and made for a pitiful sight.

 

There had still been a sort of lingering fear inside of them all that questioned whether this was some sort of trap, but this wasn’t the sort of ruse the galra would pull, at least not those in the empire, they wouldn’t bare to let themselves be perceived as weak.

 

Suddenly bits and pieces had slotted together, at least in Pidge’s mind they had. The strict, non-mixing patrol routes she’d seen when she’d first hacked into the base to gather intel, the entirely machine response to the team entering. These galra couldn’t fight back because there was some sort of illness making its way through the base. Well, it had long made its way through, apparently most if not all of the galra on board had been struck down.

 

The whole mission hadn’t really felt like a victory as they stepped over the groaning bodies on the floor. It was too easy to gather the intel they wanted and leave, they hadn’t had to have any final, desperate fights or even really run when they left the base, all a little quiet as they piloted back to the castle ship. There wasn’t much celebrating that night, it was a hollow victory that most of them didn’t really feel like they’d won since they’d barely had to fight for it.

 


 

They had all cast it from their minds, convinced that whatever was afflicting the galra wasn’t something that would effect themselves. Of course they had all forgotten that they have someone who is part galra on the team. Figuring out the cause of Keith’s illness isn’t really a comfort, this is only going to get worse for him if the state of the galra on the base were any indication.

 

Coran is ready for them when they enter, face concerned as they lift Keith up onto one of the examination beds, pulling out tools the others had never seen before, machines that light up and beep as the scan Keith.

 

“How strange.” He says as he reads all the lines of altean script that are popping up on the screen.

 

“What is it Coran, is he going to be okay?” Shiro worries, even as Keith glares with all of the strength he has left, which isn’t much judging by the way his eyes are drooping, willing Shiro to not worry about him.

 

“Yes he’ll be fine in a few quintants time, but it would just appear that this is a very new illness, this must be why those galra you ran into were caught so unaware by it.” He muses, stroking at the hairs of his moustache as he reads a few more reports before him before turning to placate them. “This isn’t something that is compatible with human biology, so none of you have to worry.”

 

“If I’ll be fine can I go back to my room?” Keith mutters even as he’s falling asleep where he lays.

 

“I would really feel more comfortable being able to monitor you here.” Coran replies, looking apologetically at Keith as he pouts.

 

“The galra on that base were really messed up though, they didn’t even try to attack us when they saw us.” Lance says. “Is that going to happen to Keith?”

 

“I’m afraid so.” Coran sighs, readying a syringe of what Pidge identifies to be the painkiller he injects them with to alleviate the pain of small injuries that they sometimes receive. “The phase will probably begin some time tomorrow and last for around a quintant, then it’s only a matter of waiting until the spots recede to know when the illness has fully passed.”

 

“You know what that means then.” Hunk begins, lightening the mood and getting a smile from Lance and Pidge, even getting a small upturn of Shiro’s lips. “Looks like we’re staying here with him for the next few days.”

 

To everyone’s surprise Keith doesn’t even argue with them, warming something in their hearts to know that he does actually want them all around. Then it’s all a question of gathering the materials needed to make the medical bay a little more comfortable, Lance, Hunk, and Pidge briefly leaving to grab everything they need.

 

When they return two things have happened: Allura has apparently gotten word of what has happened and has joined them, fussing over the data with Coran and offering brief remarks about how best to keep the boy comfortable; and Keith has fully passed out in his exhaustion, apparently not caring how many people are around to see him.

 

It's with some alarm they notice that the blue dots have creeped up further, reaching up to the curve of his jaw, though Coran reassures them that they’re only temporary. Allura and Coran are reading the newest reports on the illness, apparently garla communications have been booming recently with reports about it, in some sectors entire ships have been redirected to cover for other ships that have temporarily succumbed to the illness.

 

As much as they want to treat all of this like a sleepover they can’t be too unruly or loud in case they accidentally wake Keith up from his sleep. So instead they settle for lounging around with each other, Lance, Hunk and Pidge taking turns passing around a handheld console and trying to beat each others high scores while the other three talk amongst themselves, probably about how best to keep Keith comfortable through all this, although as time drags on they all eventually settle down to catch some sleep, arranging themselves in the available spaces.

 

They know things have gotten worse when they’re all awoken a few hours later. Pidge squints into the muted light of the room, brain catching up with her and she eventually recognises the sound as Keith whining. It’s a strange sound, something he must only be capable of making due to his galra side and she remembers some of the galra on the base making a sound similar to it. They might not be able to understand the full context of it but it’s a sound that has them all throwing pitying looks at Keith regardless as he curls inwards on himself, hands clawing at the skin of his upper arms.

 

It’s not hard for Shiro and Hunk to remove Keith’s hands from his arms, and as soon as Keith seems to notice who exactly is around him he’s snaking his arms around Shiro to cling to the man, reminding Pidge of the galra they’d seen cuddled up together. It makes sense, during her studies she’s learnt bits and pieces of how galra social groups work, family groups not necessarily related by blood that act as one unit to protect each other. The whole thing is a strangely wholesome imagine when compared with the realities of the empire, though Pidge also knows that there have been some very unsuccessful attempts to alter galran culture and sever the instinct for these packs to form, it sort of makes her want to do more research into how exactly these groups work.

 

But that will have to wait until after, when Keith isn’t in unimaginable levels of discomfort. He doesn’t protest when he’s moved from the actual bed into the makeshift sleeping area the others have constructed, though he only fully settles down when he casts a glance around to make sure that they’re all there.

 

Thankfully Coran is there to offer him something more to dull the pain and he doesn’t have to be awake to experience it for very long, drifting off to the feeling of knowing that his entire makeshift family is there with him.

Chapter Text

Day 9 prompt: tears

 

Tags: Pre-garrison, grief, loss.

 

 

 

“Why don’t I have a mom?”

 

Asking this question is one of the first solid memories Keith has. He had never had any problem with his family consisting of just him and his dad, it was fine by him that it was just the two of them together. He had everything he needed, or he had just never thought to question it. It was only when he began to meet and interact with other kids that he started getting questions from them – questions that would often get the other kids a stern glare and a telling off by their parents for being rude, but they made Keith think.

 

Even so many years later he’ll never forget the way his dad had frozen in place for a second, eyes flashing with hurt before he’d taken a deep breath and turned to him with his pain replaced by a more solemn look and Keith had just known that this conversation would be different than any his dad had had with him before. He must have been around six or seven when it happened, when he’d realised for the first time that things can’t always be innocent or light-hearted, that sometimes asking questions can lead to pain.

 

His dad lead him to the couch and sat down with a small sigh, one arm lifted, beckoning him up. “Come here, kiddo.” Keith eagerly followed, hopping on and shuffling into his dad’s side, squeezing closer when his arm came down to hug him. For a while his dad didn't speak, instead he took a few moments to consider his words before he'd eventually opened his mouth.

 

“Your mother had to leave.” His dad started, chin resting on the top of Keith’s mop of hair.

 

Keith pulled away a little to be able to see his father’s face properly, staring up at him through his thick bangs – he must have been due a haircut at the time.

 

“Why?”

 

His dad thought for a moment, searching for the right words and Keith understands now why he’d found it so hard to explain, but as a kid what his dad had told him was incomprehensible. “It’s difficult to explain right now, sometimes adults need to do things that kids can’t understand.”

 

Keith’s face scrunched up the way it did when he was thinking and in return his dad smiled and ran his thumb over where the crease had formed between his eyebrows. It didn’t make sense to him, why someone would have to leave, surely they could just stay if they really wanted to? What would make her so willing to go?

 

But then he remembered the way other kids acted around him, how he could never seem to get through any interaction without one of them frowning at him in disapproval, no matter how hard he tried to fit in, and for the first but definitely not last time in his life, he blamed himself. Maybe his mom had seen what everyone else but his dad saw, had realised that there was something different about him and just had to leave.

 

“…Did she not want to stay?” He asked, voice small and trembling a little and he remembers the way his dad’s face had crumpled and his hands had cupped Keith’s head gently.

 

“Keith,” His dads thumb rubbed over his cheekbones soothingly. “She would have done anything to be able to stay here with us, I promise.” When tears started to fall from his eyes his dad had wiped them away before pressing Keith back into his shirt, one hand coming up to card through his hair comfortingly. “She loved you more than anything in the world.”

 

It was a strange feeling, to cry over the loss of someone he didn’t even remember, but from then on the hole in their family became more noticeable. Keith could see how much it had hurt his dad to talk about his mother, so he decided to not bring up the subject in the future unless his dad did.

 

Keith’s grief wasn’t entirely over the loss of the mother he’d never really known – it was a grief brought about by learning that anyone – even someone like a parent – can leave at any time, whether they want to or not. If his mother had to leave, there was nothing to say that his dad wouldn’t also have to leave him, and then he’d be completely alone.

 

“Will you always stay?” He hiccuped into his father’s shirt and received a small squeeze in return, his father's voice rumbling through his chest as he soothed him.

 

“Always,” He rubbed a hand down Keith’s back. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Day 10 prompt: self-sacrifice (alternative prompt)

 

Tags: Post-Naxzela, near death experience, self-esteem issues, abandonment issues, suicidal ideation, clone Shiro.

 

 

A numbness had settled over Keith as the mission concluded, Lotor surrendering himself into the custody of Voltron while Keith himself simply drifted, brain stuttering over the fact that he should be dead right now. If Lotor hadn’t arrived just in time Keith’s ship would have crashed into the barrier, he wouldn’t have lived long enough to find out if his plan had worked or not but he’d been more than willing to try it. His life isn’t important compared to the lives of countless others, compared to the lives of the paladins who pilot the universe’s only hope.

 

He’s always known this of course, but his time in the Blade has only strengthened his belief that his individual life doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, it’s simple pragmatism.

 

“Keith.” Matt’s voice through the comms interrupts his thoughts. “We’re meeting back on the castle ship to debrief.” And he leaves it at that, letting Keith take a few minutes to pull himself together before he’s piloting his way back. It’s strange to land in the hangar in a normal ship and not a lion, even stranger still when he arrives and there’s no one around, but if he thinks too hard about it he’ll start to miss what he once had.

 

Keith had wanted to just return back to the Blades and leave the paladins to deal with Lotor however they see fit. He’s not one of them anymore anyway so what does it matter if he’s there or not.

 

He’s not sure where exactly Lotor is, but it’s not on the bridge, as he finds out when he arrives and scans the room. Another thing that happens when he enters is that the conversation the others were having abruptly cuts off, all eyes turning to face him in a way that reminds him of the day he’d left for the Blades, when he’d arrived to get immediately chewed out by the team for his shitty job as black paladin.

 

It’s hard to get a read on everyone’s expressions. Shiro’s is oddly closed off, giving away nothing as Keith approaches. Matt and Pidge’s are eerily similar, or maybe it’s just the family resemblance, but they both look a strange mixture of sad and exasperated. Allura is biting her bottom lip every so slightly, expression anxious while Lance, Hunk, and Coran all look some degree of sad.

 

“Is everyone alright?” He asks, the only reason he can think for everyone to be wearing such strange expressions is if something on the mission went wrong. He half expects to be told that one of their allies didn’t make it, that they’d lost a huge number of fighters, or that the galra had taken some unexpected victory in another system. He definitely doesn’t expect what happens next.

 

“Matt told us what happened.” It’s Pidge that answers him, then stares at him expectantly as if he has any idea what they’re talking about.

 

“What do you mean?” As soon as the blank question leaves his lips everyone’s expressions shift a little, a few more degrees towards hysterical, as if he’s missing something obvious.

 

“Don’t act like you don’t know.” He doesn’t know why Lance sounds so bitter when he looks so worried, coming to stand directly in front of Keith to point an accusing finger at him. “Matt told us about you trying to fly into the barrier. The only reason you didn’t hit it is because Lotor showed up.”

 

Oh. That’s what this is about. Although he doesn’t see what this has to do with anything when possibly their most important prisoner ever is waiting to be processed somewhere nearby. “...What about it?”

 

“What about it?!” Matt sputters for a moment, trying to begin about five different sentences at once. “Keith you almost died!” Matt’s shouting at him, it’s weird to see him actually angry at someone, whenever he saw him at the Garrison and from the little he’s seen of him since he seems like he’s managed to retain his joking personality. It’s gone now though, if the way he’s glaring at Keith is any indication. “You were going to get yourself killed!”

 

“It was the best option at the time.” He bites out, trying to keep his voice even and pragmatic. “If that barrier hadn’t been destroyed we all would have died. It was a better option for it to just be me.”

 

“What do you mean just you?” Hunk butts in. “You didn’t think we’d have anything to say about you trying to die for us?”

 

Keith doesn’t know how to answer that. The death rate among members of the Blade of Marmora is staggering, they knew this when he joined and weren’t particularly against it. They were fine with him joining and probably dying for the sake of the universe when it’s with the Blades, why should they suddenly be against it in this instance?

 

“And you were going to just fly straight back to the Blades.” Matt says accusingly and Keith winces. He’s right, his original plan was to just to go back and only have to talk to the paladins again through the detachment of a screen. He doesn’t want to have to explain himself to them though, doesn’t know how really. He struggles whenever he tries to put his reasoning into words - he doesn’t want to be here because being here is just a reminder of how much he was never needed in Voltron, they’re doing just fine now, better than when he was either the red or black paladin – especially when he was the black paladin.

 

“The mission’s over.” Is what he settles on. “I was going back to where I’m needed.”

 

“See, I knew letting him stay with the Blade was a dumb idea.” Pidge scoffs. “You’re becoming too much like them. There are always other options, it’s not just about dying-”

 

“Keith’s right.” Shiro’s words startle everyone else into silence and even Keith finds himself looking at the black paladin in shock, even though he’s the one who’s just been trying to convince the others that his plan was the only way. “It would have been the best option.”

 

It’s one thing to think to himself that his death would have been the best option, but something about hearing it from Shiro’s mouth hits him with enough force to make him want to collapse under the weight of his own legs, as if the other man’s words have plunged into his chest and ripped something out. Somehow though he manages to keep it together, jaw and hands clenching with enough force to hurt, averting his eyes from the stony gaze of his older brother to the floor instead.

 

Maybe he’s just selfish, but somewhere deep inside him he recognises that he wanted Shiro to argue with him about his decision. He wanted Shiro to care. But he needs to grow up, that’s not how the universe works and no matter how close he and Shiro are Shiro is a leader, he knows when it’s necessary to sacrifice someone. So of course Keith shouldn’t be surprised that to Shiro he’s just another individual soldier.

 

Matt’s mouth is moving as if he’s trying to form words but none are coming forth, instead he’s only making aborted, if angry, gestures in Shiro’s direction. Apparently everyone else is just as surprised as he is, because the other paladin’s are all trapped in varying degrees of shock, faces ranging from hurt to rage in Shiro’s direction.

 

“Shiro-” It’s Lance that finds his words before anyone else, . “What-”

 

“What are you talking about?!” Pidge finds her voice before her brother can manage to find any words, the sound of it shrill enough to pierce through the haze that’s settled over Keith’s mind and made the world foggy around him. Hunk’s moved to stand next to Lance before him, one arm raised as if he’s about to put it on his shoulder but instead Keith takes a step back to avoid it.

 

“We’re in a war.” Keith shrinks when he feels Shiro’s gaze fall to him and reflexively turns his body to better face the exit. “One person’s life isn’t important.”

 

Something erupts in the room then, something that has Matt and Pidge springing into action as they turn on Shiro, arguing something at him that Keith can’t hear past the blood rushing in his ears. Somewhere he thinks he can hear Allura’s authoritative voice trying to quell the argument, but when he looks up he sees that even she is looking at Shiro with an expression of disapproval.

 

Keith doesn’t understand why. Shiro might have put it bluntly but he’s right, Keith’s life doesn’t particularly matter. He’d caused enough arguments as red and black paladin he doesn’t want to somehow be the cause of them when he’s not even a part of Voltron anymore.

 

“It’s okay.” He’s never been particularly good at diffusing arguments but they all tone down their shouting when they hear him start to speak. “I’m- going back to the Blades now.” His fight reflex might be legendary at this point but his flight is even better, managed to dodge out of the way Lance tries to grab him and keep him in the room and before he’s even registered where he’s going he’s back at his ship. He must have run, if his ragged breathing is any indication, but he’s managed to get here without anybody catching up to him.

 

Or maybe their concern was all some sort of performance and they needn’t bother bother actually chasing after him, maybe Shiro’s convinced them of the truth.

 

Either way, Keith scrambles back into his ship and tries to leave as quickly as he can without looking back.

Chapter Text

Day 11 prompt: drowning

 

Tags: drowning, asphyxiation, loss of consciousness, open ending.

 

 

Flying a Qonor shuttle is like handling a brick with no maneuverability. This had become abundantly clear when Keith had to pull out all his years of training just to evade a single small galra patrol ship that had still managed to get a hit in to the hull of the shuttle, soundly knocking out one of the engines in the process.

 

They must look so pathetic that the galra ship hadn’t even bothered to check if they’d finished the job, they’d stopped being chased as they got caught in a gravitational pull and entered some unknown planet’s atmosphere.

 

Or maybe the garla ship had just known to avoid this particular planet and its bizarre pulls. Keith had tried to pull out all of his knowledge to slow or at least stabilise their descent, but nothing seemed to be working. They’d practiced what to do if a ship lost an engine hundreds of times in the flight sims at the Garrison. But the simulations hadn’t prepared them for just how outlandish different planets atmospheres can really be. They’d trained for landing on bodies similar to Earth in case the possibility of terraforming other planets became available – not whatever this mess is.

 

The shuttle is groaning hideously under the pressure of their descent, shaking at the seams at the force of their fall as they rapidly pick up speed. Keith’s glad it’s Pidge who’s with him and not Hunk, no doubt Hunk would have thrown up the second the hit to the shuttle had resulted in a tailspin. All of Keith’s experience isn’t enough to stop it, as soon as he thinks he’s figured this planet out and is about to pull out some maneuver it’s as if the laws of physics change again, jolting them into a different direction and angle, harsh enough that both Keith and Pidge have definitely come close to throwing up more than once.

 

“Keith, can’t you do something?!” There goes Keith’s hope that Pidge would be able to figure out the technical aspect of this planet’s atmosphere, apparently it’s bizarre enough that even she’s panicking a little, hands clawing at the arms of the chair she’s strapped in to, wide eyes staring at Keith, waiting for an answer that he doesn’t have.

 

“I’m trying!” They hit another wave of whatever energy this planet’s giving off and a shout leaves Pidge when the force slams her head into the back of her chair with a horrible smack - it’s a good thing they have their helmets to cushion the blow even a little. “Try to contact the castle!”

 

She groans in pain but sets about the task quickly with her precision concentration, fingers moving rapidly over her communication device, desperately hoping that the beacon she’s trying to send isn’t scrambled before it can reach the others. It beeps as it sends, but that doesn’t tell them if the message has been received or not, only that it’s out there. There’s nothing she can do but sit tight and trust in Keith’s piloting skills, but that faith flies out of the window when she sees the terror in Keith’s eyes once they break through what passes as clouds on this planet.

 

They’re heading into water.

 

Maybe she should prefer this to the prospect of landing on land, but at least once you’ve crashed into the ground you’re stable, landing on water means being at the mercy of the waves.

 

Against all reason she hopes Keith might be able to pull some sort of trick out of nowhere that will have them stabilising or at least landing safely, but all that hope dissipates when he jabs a few controls, giving up with a exasperated yell when the shuttle continues its bumpy freefall.

 

“We’re going down, hang on!” It’s almost quiet after that, the both of them too busy watching the rapidly approaching waves, anticipating the moment they’ll hit.

 

When they do hit there’s no denying it. There probably wasn’t even any point in them trying to brace themselves, all the air is knocked soundly out of them when they crash into the waves, the only thing stopping them from slamming into the walls is the fact that their seatbelts have remained blessedly secure.

 

For a while all that can be heard is the sound of metal being pulled apart by the force of the shuttle’s entry into the water, then the sounds of waves crashing and spraying against the hull as it settles into a precarious floating position, the odd motion of the shuttle on the waves making their stomachs turn.

 

Then an odd silence settles over them, punctuated only by their ragged breaths as they try to take in the situation. Honestly, Keith had thought the fall would be the end of them, from how badly the shuttle’s held up so far he’d expected it to break apart on impact, but apparently it’s still intact enough for them to be able to take stock of the situation for a few moments.

 

Unclipping his seatbelt, he nearly trips on his way to check on Pidge when something rolls underfoot and briefly knocks him off balance. Pidge’s helmet must have come loose at some point and been thrown off of her, probably from the force of their landing. It’s rolling across the floor as the shuttle rocks to and fro, occasionally crinkling when it rolls over bits of its smashed in visor.

 

“Are you alright?” He scans over her exposed head, letting out a relieved breath when he can’t immediately see any signs of blood and she looks aware enough to rule out a possible concussion.

 

“I’m fine.” She glares at Keith when he looks doubtful, though the effect is ruined a little by the swelling bruise where she must have hit her cheek against something.

 

The communicator Pidge had been trying to contact the castle with is another casualty of the crash, laying in three pieces on the floor, still blinking with red light occasionally. “Did you manage to get through?”

 

“...I don’t know.” She admits, chewing on her lower lip a little in agitation before she’s unclipping herself from her seat to stand shakily on the rocking floor. Keith almost brings his arms up to support her, but she’s quick as ever to find a strategy that works for her until she’s able to stand without looking as if she’s about to topple over any second.

 

Now that their breathing has calmed down somewhat, it doesn’t take long for them to notice another noise leaking into the space, one that has a jolt of frozen fear running straight down Keith’s spine and he knows the second Pidge notices it too because she rushes over to the source, staring helplessly at where the water is beginning to enter through a crack in the hull.

 

“What do we do?!” Pidge isn’t a person who panics easily, but now her breath is beginning to stutter, one hand shaking as she tries to futilely put it over one of the newly formed gaps in the shuttle’s casing.

 

Keith draws a blank for a few moments, they can’t try to open the door at the shuttle’s side or they’ll be immediately flooded, but then he remembers that there is a hatch for emergencies built into the top of the shuttle. It had made him nervous when he’d first seen it, having more than one exit might be useful in the event of a crash but they also weaken the ship’s overall structural integrity. Now though, it might just save them.

 

He rushes over, trying to ignore the fact that he now has to wade – the water is coming in faster than they could have anticipated – and grabs at the circular handle of the hatch. He tugs, frowning in confusion when it only moves an inch before stopping and refusing to be moved any further. Pidge joins him, though physical strength isn’t her forte she still tries to help him, grunting in exertion as they try and force the handle to budge. But it’s not just a problem with the handle, it’s unfortunately more than that. The metal of the hatch has been warped, twisted and deformed so much that even if they could unlatch the locking mechanism the door itself probably won’t open enough for either of them to squeeze out of.

 

That doesn’t stop them from trying though, neither of them thinking clearly when the threat of being flooded and sinking to who knows what depths is becoming a reality. By the time they finally accept that the hatch isn’t an option the water has already risen enough to reach Keith’s hips. “It’s no use.”

 

He’s waiting for his visor to light up or his comms to activate and let him know that the castle got their message, that someone’s coming right now to come save them. But nothing of the sort comes, and he turned to face Pidge with a grim resignation. She’s panicking, eyes flitting as if she’s trying to think up a plan and coming up empty, hands wound around loose strands of her hair and tugging.

 

It’s that action that makes Keith remember her smashed helmet that’s probably still floating around the space with them, functionally useless. He’d almost forgotten about the threat of drowning, secure in his own suit as he is, but Pidge is fully at the waters mercy as it slowly climbs up their bodies, the shuttle groaning as it begins to be pulled under completely. She turns to look at him helplessly, as if he has the answer to their situation but he doesn’t, he doesn’t have the sort of smart solution that she or Hunk could normally come up with. All he knows is that it’s only a matter of minutes before the water reaches above her head.

 

So he acts.

 

Pidge is too stunned to immediately fight him when he rips off his own helmet and secures it onto her instead, thankful that the paladin’s suits are so malleable and will adapt to fit the wearer. She only comes back into her body when she hears the telltale click that indicates it’s been secured, roaring back to life from her previously shocked state.

 

“No!” She moves as if to throw the helmet off but Keith stops the action, grabbing her arms to keep them from raising any further, preventing her from trying to yank the helmet off.

 

“It’s okay.” He’s not really thinking, his mouth is just moving around empty platitudes. The water is cold as it rapidly rises up to his shoulders, speeding up now that the shuttle is fully submerged. “It’s okay.” And then he can’t say anything else to try and soothe her because he has to take a deep breathe before they become fully flooded.

 

Pidge is still trying to figure out a way out of this, even as all the tech of the shuttle goes dark and the only light illuminating the space is from their armour, casting the two of them in an eerie glow. Keith can’t hold his breath forever, and he’s having to forfeit moving too much in favour of preserving oxygen.

 

Not that he can hold out for long, and she can only watch in horror when his chest spasms horribly, demanding for him to take a breath. It almost makes her wish they were in the same situation, that neither of them had functioning helmets, then at least she wouldn’t have to watch helplessly from the safety of her suit when the red paladin finally loses consciousness, and she knows that his body will be taking automatic breaths in now to try and save itself, flooding water into his lungs.

 

She swims over to grab him, hating the way he doesn’t respond at all to her clutching at him, and doesn’t even notice when a pair of yellow glowing eyes briefly stare back at her through one of the windows, doesn’t even register when something takes hold of the shuttle and begins to drag them back to the surface.

Chapter Text

Day 12 prompt: forgotten (alternative prompt)

 

Tags: Season 4 (post Keith joining the Blade), abandonment, referenced torture, another open ending.

 

 

It shouldn’t surprise Keith that he’d eventually gotten captured. He knew the casualty rate of Blade missions, and he knew one day sooner or later it would be his turn to become a part of the statistics.

 

He’s just disappointed in himself that he managed to get caught during a simple reconnaissance mission, but they’d simply been outnumbered and outmatched. He’s not sure what became of the Blades he was on the mission with, he hasn’t seen anyone but his captors since being dragged into the cell.

 

The rest of the Blades won’t come for him. It’s just not what they do. If they tried to recover every lost operative they’d lose more members than they could save, it’s just logical and practical for him to be left here.

 

Individuals don’t matter much against the backdrop of an intergalactic war.

 

It’s been… three days? Five? How do you really measure time on a prison ship in the middle of space anyway. He thinks it’s been around three to five days just based on the healing of the gash going down his left forearm, though it reopens every time one of his captors comes back to interrogate him, whether from them reopening it themselves or just from the strain of whatever other interrogation method they choose that day.

 

They want information on Voltron, of course. They’ve apparently not got the memo that he isn’t a paladin anymore but he still has inside information that could be useful to them. Not that he will tell them anything, regardless of how much he just wants the pain to stop whenever the ship’s captain enters the room with a new torture technique up his sleeve.

 

The last time the captain was in here, he’d been held down in some sort of liquid, a hand in his hair pushing him down until he’d nearly passed out, waiting for the last possible second to yank him back up, shoving him back down whenever he’d tried to take a gasping breath. Whatever that liquid was must have irritated his eyes, he tries not to dwell on whether the damage is permanent or not, there’s no telling how much longer he’ll be around anyway. The details of his cell are slowly getting more and more fuzzy until he can barely make out anything more than a few feet in front of him, and even then his vision is blurred.

 

When the captain comes back into his cell - it feels like only a few hours since he was being submerged, he’s still barely got his breath back – he can only recognise him from the distinctive shape of the purple blur he creates.

 

“I found out something interesting a few vargas ago.” The captain’s a talker, he likes to taunt Keith with information, try and threaten the lives of allies in exchange for something useful about Voltron. Keith never answers, though he has started humming or smiling to himself when the captain says something particularly hurtful. “You’re not the bargaining chip I thought you were. There’s probably not even any use in trying to ransom you to Voltron.”

 

Keith makes a noncommittal sound and hears the way the captain scoffs, apparently this isn’t the reaction he’d wanted. But he should be used to it now, Keith’s not exactly been compliant with their questioning, he’s refused to answer even basic information so far.

 

It doesn’t stop the captain from talking though, it never does. “Apparently Voltron was spotted, fully formed, at a battle recently.” He says it like he’s just reading out a casual fact from a news report, waiting for Keith to show some semblance of shock, anything more than the dull resignation he’s trapped in. “How long have you not been a paladin?”

 

Keith closes his eyes in response, not that they’re doing him much good at the moment anyway. He can’t let anything slip, can’t let the captain know that some of the paladins are flying lions they’re still not fully experienced with.

 

He’s not sure he could answer even if he wanted to though, it feels like an eternity since he’d sat in the the seat of Red’s cockpit, he even misses Black in a weird way despite how much he’d hated the role of black paladin. But things are better off this way, Shiro’s leader again and Red has found another paladin, she’d probably reveled in the opportunity to get rid of him. Some of his hurt must show on his face because the captain pounces on the opportunity as soon as his brow furrows.

 

“If we did send them a message, would they even respond?” Keith can imagine the way his lips are probably curling up in that cocky smirk that he’s grown accustomed to over his time in captivity. “Have they forgotten about you already?”

 

Then he changes tactics, and Keith cringes at the hot breath in his ear. “Why stay loyal to them? They’ve abandoned you.”

 

A clawed hand tilts his chin, considering something. “There’s galra blood in your veins. There could be a place for you in the Empire.” He draws back and has to bite back a groan when the wound on his arm reopens again. “You could be a part of something greater, something where everyone is valued for the part they play.”

 

He hates that something about that sounds… nice. Not being a member of the Empire and doing their bidding, Keith would rather die than help in any way. But the thought of being wanted is nice even if it is just a pipe dream, a fantasy for him to escape to instead of being mentally present during the torture.

 

The captain squeezes the hand at his jaw a little and Keith kicks out, his foot landing a hit at the other’s shin, causing a growl to erupt from the captain and suddenly he finds himself being yanked up by the hand on his neck. “Or you could keep up with this silly game.”

 

Keith opens his eyes then to try and glare defiantly. The effects probably ruined by the fact that he can’t see clearly enough to pinpoint the other’s eyes but he figures that as long as he’s staring into one of the blurs of glowing yellow in his vision then he’s probably hit his target. “Fuck you.”

 

The breath is knocked backed out of him when he’s unceremoniously dropped back onto the cell floor.

 

“Apparently this is useless.” He growls, more to himself than to Keith. “You weren’t a useful enough asset for them to keep, I doubt there’s much you can tell me.” Keith’s eyes focus somewhere else, away from his captor and fixing instead on one of the far walls, if they’re going to kill him he’d rather they just get on with it, no use drawing it out, there’s no one coming for him for him to hold out hope for. “There’s not much point keeping you around.”

 

Keith huffs out a small, private laugh to himself. Nothing new there.

Chapter Text

Day 13 prompt: cauterization

 

Tags: Minor character death, medical procedures.

 

 

By the time Keith manages to stagger into the escape pod the doors are already beginning to slide shut. It’s another close call, one second slower and he would have been left to his fate on the galra fuel base.

 

Kolivan glances at him briefly before he’s ejecting the pod from the vessel and setting their course, thankfully they’d disarmed the ship’s arms so their escape should be relatively uneventful. Kurik has also made it, Keith notes with some relief. He’s a relatively senior member, Keith doesn’t usually see much of him because he tends to keep to himself in the medical bay, but it’s good to see that he’s made it, even if he does look a little worse for wear, leaning against the wall and panting. When he removes his mask and hood his fur is skewed, eyes downcast – or at least Keith thinks they are, it’s difficult to tell exactly where some galra are looking sometimes.

 

There’s a noticeable absence in the pod that has Keith scanning the room as if there’s some chance that he just hasn’t spotted their missing their fourth member yet.

 

“Iruka?”

 

Kurik shakes his head. “She didn’t make it in time.”

 

He tries not to let it get to him too much, to let if flow over and off of him the same way Kolivan does. But the whole situation just reminds him too much of Regris’ last mission, and Keith slumps to hide his downtrodden expression behind his hair.

 

'We’re in a war. All blades know the risks.' It’s a mantra he’s found himself repeating in his head a lot lately, every mission seems to end with at least one member never coming back. But if they do this and succeed, then future generations will be free from having to make the same sacrifices. Or so he tells himself.

 

“-eith.” Kolivan’s voice breaks through his thoughts.

 

“Huh?”

 

“I asked if you were injured.”

 

He makes a questioning noise before he looks down at where Kurik and Kolivan’s faces are angled, at the scorched material of his suit at his right hip that’s slowly oozing blood. “Oh.” Apparently remembering the injury makes the pain return and he hisses when he straightens up and tugs at the injury. “I think… one of the druids got me with something?”

 

It’s hard to make sense of everything that happened during the mission, once things really kick off during Blade missions events tend to pass by in a blur of quick, decisive motions. But now that they have the long journey back to base ahead everything is rushing back, making it hard to think past all the delayed emotions backlogging his thought processes.

 

Kurik is motioning him towards what could work as a table, already on hand with his medical supplies. It’s nothing compared to the arsenal he has on the main Blade base, but it will probably do to ease Keith’s injury while they wait to arrive at their destination.

 

“Can you remove the upper half of your suit for me?” Keith does so, grunting a little when the movements pull of the injury more and he eventually has to accept the other blade’s help to get it down away from the injury at his side.

 

At some point Kolivan must have come over to assess the situation himself, but Keith is more focused on trying to stay still and ignore the urge to flinch away whenever Kurik touches too close to the wound. Kurik makes a sort of tutting sound, one of his fangs visible from where he’s grimacing at the wound, face grim and when Keith tries to analyse what it means none of the answers are good. Kolivan’s face mirrors the other blade, but then his expression is never not austere. They’re talking to each other, something about not letting the druid’s magic get any further in but Keith can’t hear much of it past the pain distracting him.

 

“-e’re going to have to cauterise the area to ensure it doesn’t spread.” Kurik’s looking at him again, looking for permission that Keith gives with a determined nod, teeth gritting together.

 

The other blade sets to work, pulling out an instrument that looks sort of like a pen but somehow it sets Keith at ease a little. When he pictures cauterisation in his head he sees something messy and haphazard – fire or a heated up piece of metal pressed into skin as a last resort – but this instrument looks pretty precise and he trusts Kurik’s medical experience. He just has to stay calm, get it over with.

 

He can do this.

 

Apparently he’s wrong. The second the tip touches his skin and he feels the sharp pain of the wound not just being touched but being burned again he’s bolting up from the table, hands reaching blindly to knock the offending instrument away. His breath is coming in harsh pants when he comes back to himself, wincing in apology and a little embarrassment at the two senior members.

 

“Shit, sorry.” His fingers leave dents in his palms as he clenches his fists at his sides, trying to will himself to lie back down and let them get to work.

 

“It’s alright.” Kurik’s voice is calm, but his eyes are communicating something to Kolivan that the other man understands immediately and Keith realises what’s happening then Kolivan shuffles closer to push him back down gently but firmly. The table is cold beneath his back and he can’t help the involuntary shivers but he doesn’t fight them, he understands that this is necessary.

 

That understanding disappears again when Kurik goes back to work and lightning hot agony is tearing him up from the inside. It’s like the wound has a direct link to his spine, every touch to it sends sparks flying up his body and if it weren’t for Kolivan’s significant weight holding him down he’d be up again. As it is he can only convulse sharply against the table, occasionally smacking the back of his head with his jerky movement until Kurik must pass Kolivan something that he then slides beneath Keith’s head to cushion the blow.

 

He’d been on the other side of this situation once when he was still a paladin. One of their exploration missions had gone south and had ended up with him having to hold Pidge while Shiro cauterised a wound on her leg to prevent infection. Is this how she had felt? At the time he’d tried to be soothing but now he thinks it probably wasn’t enough. A sound leaves his throat that has even Kolivan wincing a bit, a small twitch of his eyes disturbing his otherwise resolute expression, but then finally Keith’s body decides it’s had enough and simply ceases trying to resist anymore.

 

The wound is relatively small but it is deep, and so by the time the wound has been properly cauterised and Kurik is clearing his supplies away Keith is in a daze, barely registering anything in his surroundings.

 

Distantly he notices that Kurik is returning, face apologetic about the whole ordeal while Kolivan simply returns to ensuring their course is going to plan.

 

“Try to rest, the journey will be at least another twenty vargas.”

Chapter Text

Day 14 prompt: crash injuries

 

Tags: set immediately after chapter 11, drowning, hypoxia, cpr.

 

 

This planet is terrible. The contents of Hunk’s stomach have threatened to rebel and try to escape at least ten times since Black and Yellow entered the atmosphere and were hit by some of the most horrific jet streams they’ve ever had the misfortune of experiencing.

 

It hadn’t taken them long to get here, Allura had been ready with a wormhole practically the second an emergency beacon reached them and nearly sent Hunk into a full blown panic. If Keith and Pidge are sending out emergency beacons something must really be going wrong. The mission they’d originally been sent on had been practically risk free, so when the wormhole had sent them to a planet completely off of the green and red paladin’s original of course Hunk was immediately worried.

 

Black and Yellow were the best options for navigating in such a harsh environment thanks to their sturdy builds, but of course Lance refused to be left behind in an emergency so he’s here clinging onto the back of Hunk’s chair, occasionally rubbing a hand between his shoulder blades when turbulence has his stomach somersaulting.

 

The distress beacon Keith and Pidge sent out tells them that they’re somewhere directly below their current location. That’s a problem, because this entire planet is one giant ocean.

 

It creates another problem when it comes to finding them due to the low visibility of the ocean but they shouldn’t be in any significant danger – their suits are made to withstand every change in pressure and force space can throw at them, they should be fine, if a little freaked out, wherever they are.

 

Still, there’s no use delaying, and after they’ve established that Yellow will be the best suited to travelling into the ocean’s depths Hunk is on his way. It’s almost a relief, the rocking of the ocean is nothing compared to trying to fly on this planet and Yellow has no trouble making her way down, eyes adjusting their strength to light up the way below them.

 

Hunk squints into the darkness, his radar is telling him that he’s getting close, but it’s impossible to see very far ahead of him at this depth and he only knows that he’s reached them when he’s directly on top of them and the can take in the mangled form of their shuttle.

 

The shuttle is a mess, metal banged up and twisted in places, clear evidence of another ship’s weapon marks streaked across the hull. They must have lost an engine, rendering them unable to resist the planet’s gravitational pull. As good of a pilot as Keith is nobody would be able to do anything to pilot against such forces and win.

 

There is a twin pair of dim lights illuminating the inside of the shuttle that Hunk can just about make out through its window. Paladin armour.

 

“This is creepy.” Lance murmurs behind them and he has to agree, the whole view is like something out of a horror movie.

 

It takes a bit of maneuvering to get Yellow’s jaw firmly but gently around the shuttle, but when he does it’s quick work to start their ascent back up to the surface.

 

“Everything alright down there?” Shiro’s voice filters through the comms in an almost bored manner, the black paladin must be getting restless waiting for them to emerge again.

 

“We’re good, but I think we’ll need your arm to cut through the shuttle one we reach the surface, it got pretty banged up on the way down...” Hunk trails off when a sense of unease from Yellow prods through to his subconscious but he can’t quite make sense of it. The shuttle is heavier than it should be, all the damage must have let water enter it but Keith and Pidge’s suits should be compensating for it just fine. Maybe that’s what has her worried, but when Hunk tries to push this through their connection she rejects his comfort entirely, not so subtly speeding up their ascent.

 

“Yellow’s worried.” It’s strange for Hunk to not be the most panicked one in a situation and he honestly doesn’t like it, he feels like he’s missing something. “Keith and Pidge haven’t said anything over the comms either.” Lance shrugs beside him, he has no answer but his brow furrows a little, slowly becoming as concerned as he is.

 

Shiro’s quiet for a few ticks, considering his response before he replies. “Maybe something’s damaged their comm systems. Once you get up here set the shuttle on Black, I’ll come out now and meet you both there.”

 

Once Yellow emerges from the depths water immediately starts escaping back out of the shuttle in a steady downpour, cascading down Black’s back when he sets the small ship onto her next to where Shiro is waiting. Figuring he might as well help too, he sets Yellow down into a hover next to the black lion and makes his way out, sending a small thanks to his own lion when she helps them get onto Black’s back without having to jump the precarious distance between them.

 

With Shiro setting to work cutting through the shuttle’s hull Hunk walks back around to its window and breathes a sigh of relief when he makes eye contact with Pidge through it, but then he immediately sucks in his breath again when he sees the panic in her face.

 

Pidge is gesturing frantically at him through the window, hands trying to convey something that seems to amount to ‘hurry the fuck up’.

 

There’s something off about her outfit. It takes him a couple more ticks to pinpoint the discrepancy, the colour of her helmet doesn’t match the rest of her armour, but then that means-

 

“Shit, Shiro hurry it up!” Apparently Lance has pieced it together before he could because the blue paladin is scrambling up to where Shiro is cutting open the shuttle’s emergency hatch. Lance’s tone has obviously shaken Shiro up a bit, because he’s practically punching through the twisted metal now until they can both work together to prize it off of its hinges, moving faster than Hunk’s ever seen him move as he plunges in the second the door is removed.

 

For a few moments there’s nothing, then suddenly Keith is getting shoved out of the opening by Shiro, Lance helping to haul him out fully before Shiro and Pidge are emerging too. Hunk’s heart stills when he sees him, just as he’d feared Keith doesn’t have his helmet on. It’s terrifying to watch Keith’s deadweight be hauled about, not responding when Shiro is dragging him back up to heave him towards Black’s cockpit.

 

There’s no time for them to waste splitting up between Black and Yellow so instead they’re all hurrying into Black’s cockpit, Lance frantically hailing the castle ship over his comms. “We need you to wormhole us back right now and have the medical bay ready!”

 

Black’s moving without Shiro sitting in the pilot’s chair and Hunk doesn’t have to look out of the window to know that Yellow is following close by. There’s no time to be gentle and Shiro is practically collapsing with Keith, setting the red paladin down on the floor of the cockpit to look him over and Hunk can’t ignore that he can see the tremble in their leader’s hands as he reaches for Keith’s neck. He just wishes Keith would do something.

 

But Keith doesn’t do anything. Doesn’t move, doesn’t sit up, doesn’t start hacking up water and start complaining, doesn’t even breathe-

 

Keith jerks suddenly and Hunk’s relieved just to see him move, thinking it means he’s conscious until he realises the movements are entirely automatic and involuntary, shoulders seizing up in violent twitches.

 

“Hunk-” Shiro doesn’t elaborate but he doesn’t have to, within seconds Hunk is throwing himself to the floor beside them, hands reaching to hold Keith’s shoulders down while Shiro tilts his head back. He must have removed the glove on his flesh hand at some point because he’s holding his bare hand under Keith’s nose now, making a noise that Hunk never wants to hear come out of Shiro ever again when he doesn’t feel anything.

 

“Fuck!” Any hope that the situation will get any better dissolves entirely as he watched Shiro’s hands cross over the centre of Keith’s chest, briefly fixing his positioning before he starts pressing down over and over again in hurried, rhythmic movements. Distantly Hunk recognises that Pidge is crying from where she’s curled up in a corner of the cockpit, Lance hugging her to his side and hushing her though it doesn’t seem to do anything to comfort her. Lance is trying to be strong, but Hunk can see the way his eyes keep darting towards them, locking onto Keith’s pallid face before jerking away again and taking deep breaths to calm himself.

 

He feels useless just kneeling here. Keith’s muscles have stopped seizing so now he’s just resting his hands on the red paladin’s shoulders as if that can ground himself, as if it will make things better. Shiro stops his compressions, hands reaching for Keith’s face to tilt it back, one pinching over his nose before he’s leaning down to breathe for him.

 

Hunk watches Keith’s chest slowly rise and fall, rise and fall, before Shiro’s back to pushing at his chest. He’ll definitely have bruised ribs after this, will probably spend the next few days complaining to the black paladin about being too rough, but that’s only if-

 

No. He will survive this. Hunk’s sure of it. Or maybe it’s denial, that’s a thing that happens right? Maybe it’s shock that he’s feeling instead, not denial. All of the garrison’s first aid training is starting to blur into one, a slush of nonsensical bits and pieces information that he can’t wade through and piece together. Trying feel likes trying to wade through mud, he just doesn’t have the energy right now.

 

The view out of the black lion’s cockpit changes into the dizzying view of the inside of a wormhole and Hunk would be relieved if he could feel past the numbness overtaking his body. It doesn’t take long, less than a dobosh but it feels like more than a varga before Black finally touches down in the hangar and Hunk is moving on autopilot, following close by when Shiro frantically scoops Keith back up into his arms to stagger back out of the cockpit.

Chapter Text

Day 15 prompt: delirium

 

Tags: set directly after chapter 14, hypoxia, delirium, confusion, brain injury, injury recovery.

 

 

Black’s cockpit is quiet without even the hum of the lion to provide some white noise. Try as he might, Lance can’t find any words to ease the situation, not after watching Shiro try and fail to breathe life into the red paladin. They both know that they should follow after the others, but Lance needs to stay with Pidge and make sure that she’s alright after the ordeal. She still hasn’t moved an inch from where she’d collapsed when they got in, can’t will her legs to work and take her to the medical bay.

 

“Hey.” Lance’s voice is soft, quiet in a way it usually isn’t as he nudges Pidge gently, trying in vain to get her attention but she’s been glazed over for a while, red-rimmed eyes starting resolutely through him. Only her hands are moving, wracked with tremors that seem to come in waves where they hold her helmet – no, Keith’s helmet – to her chest.

 

She comes back into herself when Lance’s hands reach for her face, the warm skin soothing her clammy cheeks where his thumbs stroke in small circles and her eyes slam shut, lungs heaving in a sudden breath that ends with a painful sounding sob.

 

And then everything breaks free.

 

The shock, the fear, the guilt.

 

Keith should have been wearing his helmet. If he had, he’d be fine right now. Like she is. Unharmed because she’d worn his instead. No, Keith had given it to her knowing what it would mean for him. Because he’s like that, he’s not anything like the lone wolf persona they tease him with, not really, he’d do anything for his team. But knowing that Keith chose to do it does absolutely nothing to ease the guilt rapidly eating away at her.

 

Maybe she hadn’t secured her helmet properly and that’s why it had fallen off. Or she hadn’t braced well enough when they’d crashed, hadn’t assumed the right position or something. She should have been able to think quicker, that would have stopped this from happening. If she’d just been smarter, quicker to figure out the planet’s weird environment-

 

She wants this to be her fault somehow. Because at least then there’s someone to blame, a reason for this to have happened other than just bad luck.

 

“Pidge,” Lance’s voice finally filters through and after a few beats of continued unresponsiveness her eyes finally meet his. “It’s going to be okay.” His voice is so assured, so calm, like Shiro’s is when things are going to shit and he wants to project a sense of reassurance into the team. Like things will magically turn out okay out of sheer force of will.

 

Pidge isn’t so convinced.

 

 


 

 

The medical bay is an absolute mess of organised activity, everyone beelining their respective ways around. Despite the panic buzzing in the air Coran has managed to corral everyone into a specific job. Hunk has been sent packing to the supply closet for pieces of equipment that he doesn’t recognise the names of but that Coran has assured him he’ll be able to find. Shiro is meticulously ridding Keith’s upper half of clothing and the alteans are setting up various machines that only they understand – they all look much more advanced than anything Earth could ever hope to build.

 

Coran has transformed into an almost unrecognisable person, showing every year of his age in the way he takes control of the situation, taking it out of the hands of all the young, inexperienced people around him. It’s strange and somewhat horrifying to watch him work a breathing tube down the red paladin’s throat while Shiro continues compressing Keith’s chest at his instruction, it seems so primitive compared to everything they’ve seen in space so far. “We need to get a heartbeat established.” He’s talking to himself more than anyone else, eyes not leaving his work.

 

When Pidge and Lance eventually join them they’re just in time to see Coran attaching what look like strange glowing gel patches to different areas of Keith’s body while Allura calibrates one of the machines, sweat forming on her brow even as she tries to retain a neutral expression.

 

Coran gets Shiro to reluctantly stop his compressions, though the black paladin doesn’t go far, he remains leant over Keith’s prone form protectively. The patches Coran’s placed on Keith’s body must be some sort of altean AED device, because there’s a few ticks of nothing before their glowing increases, lighting up to an almost blinding level for a split second before receding again.

 

Coran and Allura watch the screen, eyes flitting rapidly over bits of information that only Pidge would probably be able to take in as quickly. They’ve both been trying to remain collected so far, trying to prevent making the panic in the room worse.

 

But their serious exteriors crack when they both suddenly release the same relieved exhale, Allura dropping forward to hold her head in her hands while Coran messily pushes back the hair that had fallen into his face in all his movement. Shiro takes it as a cue to reach a hand towards Keith’s neck and then he’s collapsing boneless against the bed in a wave of relief that flows across the entire room, enough to snap Hunk out of autopilot when his emotions finally hit him again like a tidal wave, unashamed tears making their way down his cheeks.

 

“Why don’t you all sit down for a few ticks?” Coran’s ushering Allura over to one of the couches, subtly gesturing for the rest of the paladins to join though he doesn’t look surprised when Shiro stays where he is.

 

It’s easy to forget how young Allura is with how successful she is at portraying an unflappable leader but despite it all she’s still a teenager and the entire situation is taking as much of a toll on her as it is on the rest of the team. For once she doesn’t have a plan of action ready, the only thing she offers is a comforting smile that doesn’t reach her eyes when Lance and Hunk join her.

 

Pidge can’t go sit with the others though, not while Keith’s lying there looking so small – because of her.

 

“This is my fault.” She comes to stand next to Shiro by the bed but her eyes can’t remain on Keith for long before they wrench themselves away. It’s wrong. So wrong to see Keith looking like this, completely helpless and at the mercy of the altean machines to keep him doing something as simple as breathing.

 

“Pidge-”

 

“He gave his helmet to me.” It feels like a confession, something guilty whispered between them, baring herself open to Shiro’s judgement. “My helmet got broken in the crash, so he gave his to me.”

 

“This isn’t anyone’s fault but whoever shot you down.” His tone leaves no room for argument, eyes hard in their determination before they soften when he looks back to Keith’s face, absently stroking the hair at his forehead back. “He knew the consequences when he did what he did and he did it anyway to save you. I hate that you were both in that situation, but we can’t keep focusing on things that we can’t change. We need to keep going forward now, okay?”

 

Her head ducks in a nod, eyes stinging with barely withheld tears. “Okay.”

 

The smile Shiro gives her is small, tired. “Now let Coran check you over, that crash was bad.”

 

She doesn’t want to. It feels like a waste of resources somehow even though the castle ship has plenty to go around. There’s also the creeping feeling that it would be selfish to take Coran’s attention away from Keith, but the older altean takes the choice away from her when he beckons her over for a quick checkup.

 

It doesn’t last long, within a few ticks and a few swipes of some sort of scanner her results are in. She’s been banged up pretty badly, a few ribs are definitely bruised, but that’s the extent of it. It’s nothing compared to Keith but she doesn’t dare voice that, knows it wouldn’t be helpful to remind them of the sorry state their red paladin is currently in.

 

Getting into a healing pod is the last thing she wants to do. Being in one, cut off from what’s going on around her, terrifies her. Especially in this situation, if something suddenly gets worse she wants to be there to help. To be useful like she wasn’t when the ship had started falling. If she’s in the pod when Keith gets worse it will be just like when was helpless to do anything but watch him slowly drown. The thought that she could wake up from a healing pod just to find that things have taken a turn for the worst almost has her protesting when she’s pushed towards one, but eventually she relents.

 

It wouldn’t be helpful for her to delay fixing her injuries, not to her or to the team, and she reluctantly allows Coran to place her in one of the empty pods, locking her eyes onto where Keith is as the door shuts in front of her, burning the image of him laying there into her eyes as she too is put to sleep.

 

For a while everything is still with the exception of Coran flitting about, occasionally muttering things to himself while he works.

 

Allura, Lance, and Hunk don’t talk much, only enough to tell Allura exactly what happened on the planet, the princess nodding along occasionally and tapping something into her mission report as a way to distract herself from sitting there and worrying. A million possibilities float through her mind, but mostly she just wishes she’d advised them to take one of the lions with them even if it would have been overkill on what was supposed to be such a safe mission. It’s better to be safe than sorry, she decides for all future missions. Maybe they can also do something to improve the paladin armour, install some sort of emergency beacon in it that doesn’t rely on the normal communication channels. She types out her ideas, determined to do something productive rather than let herself feel useless.

 

Hunk’s gone into mother hen mode, fretting over how he can help everyone through this – who to watch out for to make sure they get enough sleep, what everyone’s favourite foods are and whether he can recreate some of them to try and provide a bit of comfort. Mostly though he just doesn’t want to think about whether things might have turned out better if he’d moved just that bit quicker, if he’d gotten down to the shuttle earlier. How much time had he wasted because he’d thought both Keith and Pidge’s suits were intact?

 

They’re the same thoughts Lance is having, knee bouncing in place in a frantic rhythm. He doesn’t have anything to help with this situation. Doesn’t have the medical knowledge to help Coran, doesn’t know what to say to comfort Shiro, can’t strategise the way Allura can.

 

“Ah,” Everyone’s taken out of their thoughts when Coran suddenly addresses them instead of addressing only himself. Something gets switched off if the way the lights dimming on one of the machines means anything. “He should be able to breathe on his own now.” It doesn’t take long for Coran to rid Keith of the breathing tube with a few practiced motions and once it’s removed everything suddenly seems a little less dire, replaced instead by a much less imposing cannula that sits just at his nose, just to make sure to keep up the oxygen levels in his blood to lessen any possible damage, he explains quietly to Shiro, who only nods numbly in response.

 

Before all of this, Shiro never knew he could be so grateful just to see someone’s chest rising and falling on their own, the image of the red paladin unmoving is not one that he’ll be able to remove from his mind easily, no doubt it will probably join in with his memories of the fighting pits to keep him from sleeping at night.

 

He startles a little when he sees that Keith’s eyes have opened at some point while he was too busy watching his breathing. “Coran.”

 

Coran’s quick to bound over, the rest of the team following closely behind but he holds a hand up when they all crowd around, effectively silencing them. “I just need to do a few tests before the rest of you say anything to him.” He leans over Keith to try and get his focus, giving him a small nudge when he continues to stare off elsewhere and smiling kindly at him when after a few moment he finally manages to catch his eye.

 

“Can you tell me your name?” Well, that explains why Coran didn’t want the rest of them to ask him anything yet. Keith frowns at him, a pout that the rest of them would usually find funny but now it’s only worrying.

 

“...Keith?” It’s not the most sure reply he could have given, the short word sounds wrong in his mouth and his face tells them all that the simple question had still required a lot of his concentration.

 

“Do you know how you got here?” He continues, shifting to stay the sole occupant of Keith’s view, unwilling to let him be distracted by the sight of the others around them.

 

“No?” As if the answer isn’t obvious enough from the lost look in his eyes.

 

“Do you know who we are?” Coran tries instead after jotting his last answer down with one hand.

 

“Yeah.” He says, a little more confidently than he’s answered everything else. The paladin’s breathe out a collective sigh of relief but Coran’s expression grows more serious.

 

“Can you say more than one word for me? Anything at all.” Keith makes a small, confused noise, unable to elaborate further or maybe the question is just a little too open-ended for him right now because he only seems to consider it for a short while before he apparently loses interest and Coran tries again, undeterred. “Where are you right now, Keith?”

 

“Um, the medical bay?” He tries, continuing when Coran keeps looking at him insistently. “On the castle ship?”

 

“Okay, very good.” Coran punches a few notes into a datapad before setting it does again and taking Keith’s right hand, much to Keith’s apparent confusion. “Squeeze my hand for me.” He does so, but not after a short delay that might just be attributed to it being a strange situation. “And the other one.” They repeat the test on the other hand, Coran smiling at whatever results he’s collected but Keith doesn’t look particularly comforted, gaze tracking lazily around the room, stopping occasionally as if he’s deep in though.

 

There’s a few more tests, Allura grabbing a few datapads to read over whatever it is Coran is recording and the others look to her reaction to try and decipher the situation. When she seems to lose just a little bit of tension they take it as a good sign, though she’s still not entirely happy if the way she’s chewing on her bottom lip is any indication.

 

Coran finally relents, backing off to let Keith fully take in the others around him. “He’s a smidge confused, try not to ask him too much at once.” He advises, eyes soft with sympathy at the way Keith looks, brow furrowed as if he can’t make his mind up about something.

 

Shiro’s quick to occupy the space Coran was just in, scooting closer to the edge of the bed from where he’s sat so that he can lay a hand at Keith’s forearm. If Keith notices he doesn’t act like it, too busy rubbing his thumb across the skin of one of his hands in a movement that all of them have seen him do from time to time, maybe it’s serving as a way to try and ground himself.

 

“We all... made it back?” Every word is said in a slow monotone, as if it’s almost too much effort to think and speak at the same time.

 

“What do you mean?” Shiro tilts Keith’s face back towards him when he gets distracted by something else in the room and they almost lose faith that Keith will respond at all when he barely seems to notice the touch. “Keith?”

 

“Hmm?” No one else speaks, they’ve all made some sort of unspoken rule that only Shiro will ask him questions after Coran’s advice. Keith can hardly keep up with one person talking to him right now, never mind all of them barraging him with questions at once. “The… wormhole?”

 

Wormhole? What wormhole? The one that had brought them back to the castle ship? No, Keith hadn’t even been conscious for any of the rescue, he probably has no idea how he’s come to be in the medical bay. The only wormhole any of them can think of where they’d been separated was when they’d all been sent to different locations by the one tainted by Zarkon’s witch.

 

“That was a while ago, Keith.” Keith just blinks at him in return. “Don’t worry about it, it’ll come back to you.”

 

Keith makes a noise like he’s considering what he’s been told, unsteady gaze flitting about the team before he’s distracted by the beeping of the various medical machines, apparently briefly annoyed at the face that he’s wearing a sort of loose shirt that’s not his own when he scrunches his nose in displeasure, sitting up to look around a little more.

 

“Then why?” He trails off, but the question is clear. ‘Why am I here?’

 

“You and Pidge were – keep that in,” Keith’s hand has lifted as if to remove the cannula and Shiro is quick to gently pull the hand away. “You and Pidge were on a mission and you got hurt.”

 

“Pidge-”

 

“She’s alright.” Shiro reassures him, sending Hunk a grateful glance when he uses his body to shield the view of her healing pod from Keith’s line of sight. “And you’re going to be alright too, you just need to rest.” Keith’s gaze turns into a bit of a glare that they all try not to take too personally – they’re all too aware that if he’s delirious then his state of mind can change at any moment for no particular reason at all. “Does anything hurt?”

 

Keith’s gone quiet now, withdrawing himself by closing off his body language so he can focus instead on whatever it is he’s thinking about, ignoring when Shiro tries to prompt him some more. It’s disconcerting to see him change so quickly but they all remember enough first aid training to not be too surprised by it.

 

Despite his best efforts the glare doesn’t last too long, not with how tired he is and Hunk can’t help but huff in amusement when a particularly venomous glare sent his way gets interrupted by Keith listing forward, head drooping drowsily. He startles back up when Shiro stops him from going too far forward, continuing until he’s pushing out of his sitting position to lie back down.

 

“Why don’t you get some-” It’s too late, Keith’s already out for the count again.