"Forever...United."

A story based on, "Voltron, The Third Dimension"
Copyright 2004
By Adele Previte

"Voltron" and its characters are a trademark and copyright of World Event Productions.
All other characters are copyrighted by me and can be used with my permission.

Thanks! 

Enjoy!


Chapter 16
An Old Friend's Apology

Having said farewell to Santora, Hunk and the Princess helped Keith into the hover car.  Two of the townsmen had followed Allura's instructions...directing them to the exact place where the hover car was hiding.  They retrieved it with no problem and brought it to
Santora's home.

With Hunk on one side and Allura on the other, the two of them helped walk Keith to the hover car.  Still weakened from the laser blast, Keith needed assistance back to the Castle of Lions.  Hunk, having agreed to return, knew that once they had arrived back, he had
someone else to apologize to...

Pidge.

Allura attended to Keith, while Hunk drove the hover car, back to the Castle.  He radioed ahead for standby medical attention.  Fortunately, there were no others that needed to be brought back with them for additional medical treatment.  Santora appeared to have everything in hand.

As they arrived at the Castle, a medical team from the infirmary was waiting there for them.  Coran was also there… along, with Pidge.

The hover car came to a stop just in front of the waiting party.  Hunk turned around and helped Keith get on his feet.  Once again, the two friends hooked his arms around their shoulders and helped him walk to the awaiting gurney.

Once on it, Allura looked down at Keith...his face grimacing once again...the pama root's effects were now wearing off, and with that... the return of the painful sting of the wound.

She gently brushed his hair back from his eyes.  "You're going to be
all right, Keith.  We're back home.  Just...try and relax now."

He nodded, reaching his right hand up and gently brushing his fingers against her cheek.  "Trying," he mumbled through the pain.  "Just try to convince yourself of your own words...okay?"

Allura nodded bravely, her heart aching to see him like this.  The attending physician approached the Princess...

"Your Highness...we really need to get him inside now.  If you will follow us?"

Allura nodded her head and looked back down at Keith.  He was smiling at her...despite the pain.

"I'm okay." Keith reassured her. "You said it, yourself...remember?"

"I...remember." she stammered.  "You'll be just fine...very soon."

As the medical team made their way into the Castle of Lions, with the
Princess and Coran closely behind them, Hunk and Pidge were left...
alone.

It was an uncomfortable moment...for both.

Hunk closed his eyes for a moment, trying his best to collect his wayward thoughts.  Pidge, on the other hand, remained absolutely still and silent, not sure what to expect.

"Uh...umm... Pidge...I uh... I... have something to say to you." Hunk began, stammering his thoughts audibly.  Pidge still made no attempt to look at him.  Hunk continued… "I...uh...I was a real...uh... oh... Geez, Pidge!   I acted like such a jerk out there to you!  I didn't
mean it, little buddy!  Really, I didn't!  I'm not even sure what came over me, in the first place!  And...now...when I think about it... I could have really caused you some serious hurt!"

Pidge only nodded slightly.

Hunk sighed, regretfully.  "Listen Pidge...I know you ain't got no reason to forgive me.  In fact, you've got every right to turn around and say, 'the heck with you, lunk-head!', and you'd be well within your right to say that, too!  But...uh...I was hoping you'd...well,
that you'd give a fella a chance to get his act together...and well... forgive me...maybe.  I mean...you and I... we've got a great friendship going... or at least... we did.  Look,Pidge-O...what I'm trying to say is... can you please forgive what I did before?  Can we just... you know... go back the way we were?"

Pidge looked up at Hunk...his eyes glistening with tears.  Nodding slowly, Pidge said, "Well...you did save Keith and the Princess..."

"Oh that?  That was nothing...nothing I wouldn't do for anyone...a friend, especially, that is." Hunk replied, before laying a gentle hand on Pidge's shoulder.  "Like you, Pidge.  Gee... can you take me back as your friend?"

Pidge stares for a moment, looking into Hunk's face...

"Well...how can I say no?" Pidge says, smiling suddenly.  "Besides…who else do I have to talk tech stuff over with...besides you?"

Hunk reaches over and pats Pidge on the back.  "Thanks..."

Pidge looks at Hunk, somewhat bewildered.  "For what?"

"For taking me back." Hunk replied with a smile.

"You're welcome.  Besides, how could I not?  You look so pathetic, standing there...mumbling through an apology!" Pidge said, nudging Hunk in the side.  "Come on...it's get over to infirmary with the Princess.  I want to find out how Keith's doing."


**********************


The Princess paced nervously in the infirmary...

Coran sat quietly, observing his Princess's nervous behavior.

Exasperated, Allura turned to him...

"Just what is taking Dr. Gorma so long?" Allura asked them.

"He might be some time yet, Princess." Coran replied calmly.  "You would do well to have a seat."

"I can't help but think of how bad Keith looked at that woman's home." Allura said, bringing her hand up to her mouth, unconsciously biting at her fingernail tip.  "That shot he took in the shoulder...oh, Coran,"

"He is in excellent hands." Coran tried to reassure her.  "Dr. Gorma is an expert.  And his team is the finest on the planet."

"Yes...I know that, Coran." Allura replied, trying to temper her frustrated tone.  "It's just…Keith was trying to divert their attention away from me and onto himself."

"Yes, I am sure that he was." Coran's simply reply echoed in the room.

Allura turned to look at him.  "He's always doing that."

"Indeed, he is, Princess.  As is his duty." Coran replied to her.  "He is first and foremost,
your protector and champion, Highness.  In his mind, all else is secondary...including his own safety."

"I can take care of myself." Allura commented.  "I'm well trained and certified.  I don't need to be out here, worrying my fool head off, every time he takes a laser shot with my name on it."

"I am sure he is aware of that." Coran added.  "Love...is a very interesting emotion.  It makes one do things that one would not normally do, otherwise."

"He does love me," Allura said to Coran.  "Doesn't he?"

"Judge that for yourself, Your Highness." Coran replied. "For it is your own heart that will tell for certain."

Hunk and Pidge were now entering the room.  They immediately walked up to where Allura was standing.

"Any news?" Pidge asked her.

Allura shook her head, tilting it back toward the door into the medical facility.  "And I'd wish they'd just give me some update..."

"Relax, Princess." Hunk said to her.  "The doc will be out soon."

Allura bowed her head once again.  "I know."

"Hey," Hunk said to her, now bringing his arm around her shoulder in a half hug position.  "I've seen guys in worse shape then Keith was in.  Don't worry…he'll be fine."

"Yeah...don't you know Keith by now, Princess?" Pidge added.  "He's as tough as they come!"

The door to the inner medical facility suddenly opened, drawing everyone's attention.  Allura quickly turned...

"Dr Gorma?" she asked, as the chief medical physician entered the room.  "How's Keith?"

"He's doing well." Gorma replied.  "He should be ready for release in a couple of hours."

"That's wonderful news." Coran replied.

"May I see him please?" Allura asked.

"He was asking for you." Gorma replied with a smile.  "If I don't go back in there with you along side, he'll walk out on me!"

"Well, we certainly can't have that, can we!" Allura giggled.  Then she turned to her other friends, all of them smiling…even Coran.

"Go on, Princess!" Pidge said to her.  "He can see us anytime!"

"Yeah... get in there!" Hunk said.  "Tell him we're all glad he's okay!"

Allura looked at Coran.  He gave a simple nod of approval to her.  She smiled back at her friends, and then turned to follow Dr. Gorma back into the inner medical facility.


***************************


Keith was sitting up in the bed, thumbing through a bedside medical book when Gorma arrived back again.  He opened the curtains…

"Well?" Keith said with a smile.  "Did you find her?"

"Mission accomplished, Commander." Dr. Gorma replied, smiling at him.

He stepped aside, revealing the Princess standing directly behind him.  Keith's smile increased as she walked into the small examination area.

"I'll leave you two to discuss...tactical strategies." Dr. Gorma said with a chuckle in his voice.

Keith shot him a smirked look, while Allura bowed her head, gracefully shy, all of a sudden.  The curtain pulled shut once again, leaving Keith and the Princess alone.  Keith put the book down on the bed and smiled at her.

Allura rushed to Keith's side...and they embraced.

"Are you okay?" she whispered into his right ear.

"Fine." Keith replied back to her, holding her.

When they had separated, Allura looked around to his left shoulder, examining the wounded area, now bandaged up neatly.  Keith shrugged it off...

"It was just a laser wound," he said in a carefree tone.  "Nothing to worry about."

"Nothing to worry about?" she repeated, her tone of voice now more perplexed then his.  "What do you mean, nothing to worry about?  Do you realize that you were going into laser shock out there?"

Keith waved his hands up in front of himself.  "I know, I know...but..."

"But...had it been me in this position, instead of you…" Allura pointed out to him.  "You wouldn't have called it, 'nothing to worry about', now would you?"

Keith surrendered with a smile.  "Okay, okay...I get the point."

Allura smiled...and hugged him again.  "I was so worried."

"I know you were." Keith replied softly. "But it's okay now.  I'm okay."

"So...now what?" Allura asked him, parting from the second embrace, only inches away from his face.

"I'm going to Pollux…as soon as I get released." Keith replied back.

"No.  Let Hunk go.  Or Pidge..." Allura began to suggest, but Keith quickly cut her off.

"No...I have to do it.  He's gone, in part, because of me.  I have to go...otherwise, I'll never get him to come back.  He and I have some fence mending to do.  And I can't do that, sitting here on Arus, while Hunk or Pidge head out to find him." Keith replied.

"But...you're just recovering..."

"Allura...you know I've got to go." Keith replied back.  "Please...no arguments, okay?"

The Princess bowed her head.  "All right.  But...maybe...maybe I should go with you…"

"I need you stay here, Allura." Keith replied, now taking his finger to lift her chin up, so that her eyes were focused in on his.  "I need one of my best pilots here...ready for action."

"One of your...best...pilots?  Me?" Allura repeated…blinking rapidly.

"Yeah...you!  And, don't look so surprised, either." Keith smiled at her.  "Hunk and Pidge are excellent in combat...but you've come along way too.  After all...for never having had combat experience, your rankings are excellent...some of the best I've ever seen.  Your
simulator numbers consistently show above ninety-five percent...and your real-time flight hours have shown me that can out-think your enemies.  And that's why I need you three to stay here.  And, I need you to lead them."

"Lead them?" Allura said slowly.  "You mean..."

"I'm mean...I'm leaving you in charge.  You're in command.  And I know you can do it.  You're a Princess...and that in and of its self requires strong leadership skills." Keith said, as he took her hands into his.  "I have every confidence in you, Allura."

The Princess smiled, half-heartedly.  "When will you be leaving?"

"I'll contact Sven when I'm released in a few hours. I'll make the arrangements with Castle Pollux, but I'd like to get underway as soon as possible...today." he answered her.  "Its important that I get there...get Lance... and get back here as quick as possible.  Lotor's
not going to wait around forever, you know.  He wants this Castle... this planet...and most of all...he wants you.  And he won't waste any time in that, especially now that he thinks I'm hurt."

Allura nodded slightly.  "Of course.  You're right."

Keith smiled at her, taking his finger and lightly brushing it against her cheek.  "I'll be fine.  Besides...this is a good opportunity to try out that cloaking device of Pidge's."

"I still think its foolhardy...testing a new technology out without backup." Allura disagreed.

"Oh, I'm not testing it out without backup.  You can count on that." Keith replied.  "Hunk and Pidge will fly up with me.  If the device doesn't work, they can buy me time so that I can get out of orbit… should we run into uninvited guests up there."

Allura nodded her head again.  "I wish...we were back at Crystal Lake."

Keith paused...and then, nodded.  "Yeah...me too.  Things were a whole lot simpler, weren't they.  Its seems like an eternity ago, doesn't it?"

"Yes." Allura replied back, quietly. "Well...I'll let you get some rest.  I've got...a few things to do."

"You know I can't rest in here!" Keith laughed.  He reached for once again...holding her tightly.  "I love you, Princess."

Allura gripped him tightly in return.  "I love you too, Keith."

"We'll get through this." he encouraged her, whispering into her ear.  "You'll see.  And, we'll rebuild Arus again...and again, and again...if that's what it takes.  Doom will not take the spirit of determination away from us."

The tears began to brim Allura's eyes.  "No...they won't." was her reply.

He then gently pulled away from her, taking his thumb to catch a falling tear that was now rolling down her cheek.

"Be brave." He said to her.

"I will." She replied back.  "I have no choice."

Allura rose up from the bed and as they parted, their hands slowly letting go of each other…Keith smiled at her and said,  "It'll be okay."

She nodded, determinably.  "Yes...it will be okay."

She moved back the curtains to leave, looking once more behind.  Then, she exited, closing the curtains back up behind her.

Keith let out a slow sigh...

"It will be okay, Princess." Keith repeated quietly...more for himself then anything else.  "It'll be okay...somehow."