"Happy Birthday, Keith."

Story by Adele
Story Copyright 2002
A story based on the series, "Voltron, The Third Dimension"

The characters of Voltron are the property of World Event Productions.  All other characters are the copyright of Adele.  Please do not use them without asking for permission.  Thank you.

Enjoy!


Chapter 8
Jealousy's Ugly Head


Black Lion dodged a volley of fire
from Red Lion's arsenal with great ease. 

Blue Lion also let loose a volley, and
Black Lion moved swiftly out of the
way to miss it as well.

Lance was getting aggravated inside of Red Lion...

"Aw, come on, Keith!" Lance shouted.
"Stand still, will ya?"

"Not on your life, Red Lion."
Keith replied back through the COM.
Then he addressed the whole team.
"OkayI think we've run enough
drills today."

"Hey, birthday boy," Pidge replied.
"Got anything planned for
tomorrow?"

"Nope, just hanging out." Keith said nonchalantly.

"Well, I was thinking that in honor
of your birthday tomorrow, you
might want to treat yourself to a day
without Lion practice!" Pidge suggested.

"Yeah, sleep in for a change!"
Hunk added, trying to nudge the idea into Keith's brain.

The Voltron Commander didn't take the bait. "Sorry guys, but you know the rules.  Lion practice everyday....regardless of the reason."

A collective sigh came through the COM, invoking a chuckle from Keith. "Okay...okay. In honor of my birthday, I'll cut the Lion practice..." he started to say.

"Alright!" Hunk shouted prematurely.

"...IN HALF!" Keith shouted.

Hunk grumbled. "Come on!  Don't you believe in a little R and R?  Even on your birthday?"

"Not even on my birthday, Hunk," Keith replied firmly. "Do you think that Lotor will take that into consideration?  He doesn't care what day it is, so long as he thinks he has a shot at wiping us off the face of Arus!"

The COM became silent...

"Or, if you're not happy with half a practice...I could just say forget it and make you all practice the whole two hours" Keith suggested sarcastically.

"No!" Hunk shouted. "Forget I mentioned it!"

Keith sighed. "Well...I don't know now.  Seems my generous offer fell on ungrateful ears... maybe I should take it back."

"No, that's quite all right, Keith!" Lance replied. "An hour's fine with me!"

"We would love to have only an hour of practice time tomorrow!" Pidge added. 'That's very generous of you, Skipper!  Right guys?"

An assortment of affirmative comments came over the COM suddenly, as Lance, Pidge and Hunk all agreed with Keith's suggestion of an hour-long practice.

From Blue Lion's cockpit,
Allura broke into a serious laughing spell,
tickled by the reaction the boys
were giving after hearing Keith
threaten to withdraw his offer of
half time practice.

"Okay then, now that we've got that little matter settled," Keith said to the team. "Let's get back to the Castle of Lions.  Lance, if I remember right, it's your turn to take the Control Room."

"Yeah, yeah...don't remind me."
Lance huffed, angry over being given the
day shift on such a sunny day.   "I'd much rather
if someone else could do it, though.
I was kind of hoping to ask Gem out for a walk."

"You can do that...AFTER your shift!" Keith barked back.

"Aren't you a grouch!" Lance spat back playfully. "What do you care, anyway? You and the Princess are going riding!"

"You and the Princess?" Hunk asked Keith.

"Is this official?" Pidge said with a smile in his voice.

"Alright, alright...I did not invite an inquiry." Keith replied, tiring of all of the idle chit-chat. "Let's just land these big cats for the day, shall we?"

"I'll race everyone to the Control Room!" Pidge challenged.

"Yeah, last one there makes lunch!" Hunk shouted.

"HUNK!" everyone shouted.

"Hunk, its only nine in the morning! You've just eaten breakfast!  You can't possibly be hungry already!" Allura said.

"Hey, practice drills make me hungry!" Hunk replied heartily.

"Everything makes you hungry!" Lance teased.

"Hey guys, while we're up here arguing, Keith and the Princess are already heading back to base!" Pidge advised.

"What kind of thing do you think is going on with the two of them?" Hunk asked Lance.

"Search me." Lance replied. "I couldn't tell you."

"Well, while you two wonder about it, I'm heading home!" Pidge advised. "Maybe I can catch a few rays of sun..."

"Don't rub it in, squirt!" Lance shouted.

"Hey, just because it's your turn to mind the store, doesn't mean I can't go have a nice time today!" Pidge replied.

The Red Lion turned toward the Green Lion, and gave chase after it.  Green Lion ducked and dodged, as Red Lion's jaws snapped angrily at it.

Yellow Lion quietly headed toward its den...its pilot determined not to be the one making lunch this day.



As Keith and Allura returned to the Castle, Gem was waiting nearby to greet them both.

"How was practice?" she asked.

"Great!" Keith replied cheerfully. "Got a lot of work done."

"Yes, we certainly did." Allura agreed with a smile to Keith.

Gem approached them both. "Can...can I ask you something, Princess?"

"Certainly, Gem." Allura replied to her.

"But you'd better hurry." Keith added. "We've got a riding date."

Allura blushed slightly. Gem caught her expression, and decided to probe it further. "Riding date?" she asked. "What do you mean, Keith?"

"The Princess and I." Keith replied. "I promised her a ride."

"But, I thought you said you had a lot to do today..." Gem questioned slowly.

Keith's eyebrows knitted together. "Yes, but she was part of my day's plan."

"Well, do you mind if I tag along?" Gem asked politely. "I'd love to see the countryside!"

Suddenly feeling awkward, Allura turned to Keith. "I'll meet you at the stable." She then turned to Gem. "Oh, I'm sorry, you said you wanted to ask me something?"

"I'm asking if I can come along." Gem said, her voice now more insistent.

Keith stepped forward. "Gem, I promised this day to Allura.  Tomorrow you and I are going for that mid-morning picnic.  Remember?"

"But, I wanted to spend the day with you today! Now you're spending it with her?" Gem complained.

"Gem, please" Keith said calmly.

"No!  I want an answer!  Why don't you want to be with me?" she huffed.

"I never said I didn't," Keith said calmly. "I promised you that I'd spend some time with you tomorrow.  Today, I am spending some time with the Princess."

"So...you don't really want to be around me, do you?" Gem said, her voice now thick with tears.  Then, she shot Allura a foul look. "I...I thought you wereI was sure you liked..."

"Gem," Keith said, now placing his hands on her shoulders in an attempt to calm her down. "Listen to me.  You're not thinking rationally.  I am riding with Princess Allura today. I am picnicking with you tomorrow.  I'm not deliberately ignoring you.  I promised
the Princess before I even met you.  Now, you wouldn't want me to back out on a promise now, would you?"

Gem stared into his dark eyes, and found she felt suddenly alone.  Her chin dropped, and she shook her head slowly.

"Alright then.  Why don't you see what Lance is doing?  I'm sure he would love to take you out to one of the local villages.  He's on shift watch until mid afternoon.  That will give him plenty of time to show you some of the sights around here." Keith suggested.

"But...not with you." She sighed. "You're just trying to push me off onto someone else, to make yourself feel better about not wanting to be around me!"

Keith clicked his tongue on the roof of his mouth, making a sound of annoyance. "Now, that's not true.  I've already told you that."

"I know what you said." Gem said quietly.

"Okay. The matter is closed then." Keith replied.

Gem only nodded.  Keith turned to Allura, who had actually made some space between herself, and Gem and Keith. "Come on, let's get going." Keith suggested to the Princess.

She bowed her head. "Alright, Keith."

As the two walked off together in silence, Gem looked up at them, and a deep feeling of jealousy began to peak in her soul.  She watched how close they were standing togetherhow much time he seemed to be spending with her

"If I can't have him to myself, thenshe can't either.  No one can!" Gem thought. Then she turned, and ran down the hallway...forgetting all about the asylum she intended to ask for.



Walking down the hallway in the opposite direction,
Allura suddenly turned into Keith's path.
She held out her hand to his chest,
stopping him dead in his tracks.

"Keith...I..." she began.

"What is it, Allura?" he asked her.
"What's wrong?"

"That feeling I had before...it's back ...
something's wrong with her.
It feels very strange, Keith."
the Princess stuttered. "I wish
you wouldn't go out with her tomorrow.  I feel a sense of evil when I'm around her."

"Princess, don't worry about it." Keith replied. "She's harmless."

"But very possessive!" Allura suggested. "Can't you see that?  If you weren't there, she would have thought nothing of tearing me apart.  She did so with her eyes."

"Allura...I think you're exaggerating things." Keith replied. "But... if it will make you feel better, I'll limit my time with her alone going forward, okay?"

"And what of tomorrow?" Allura asked.

"I'll tell her that...that I can't spend too much time out because...well...um..." He paused suddenly, bringing his hand up to his head and running his hands through his jet black hair. "Gee, I wish I had some excuse that I could use to say why I can't spend time with her..."

Then he gave Allura a mischievous smirk. "Know of any sort of excuse I can use? A special event I can say is taking place on my birthday that I simply must attend?"

Allura saw the smirk slowly making its way across Keith's face.  She suddenly grunted aloud. "You know about it, don't you?" she shouted.

"Why Princess, whatever do you mean?' he replied innocently, crossing his arms across his chest.

"You know very well what I mean!" she fumed. "Who told you?"

"No one told me." Keith replied, shrugging his shoulders. "I'm not the Commander for nothing.  I can sense sneak attacks coming at me from a mile away."

"You do know!" Allura shouted, stomping her foot to the floor, faking anger. "I'm surprised you didn't try to stop me"

"Well, I had thought about it, but decided not to." Keith replied.  "After all, I've never had a surprise birthday party before."

"And you still won't," Allura huffed at him. "Since you're such a snoop, it's not a surprise any longer!"

"Well, it could be" he suggested. "After all, I don't know what you're getting me for my birthday."

"Humph!" Allura snorted,
now crossing her arms in front
of her too, and turning her back to him.
"What makes you think that I even
bothered to get you anything?"

Keith came up behind her
and placed his hands on her shoulders.
Leaning forward, he whispered
gently into her right ear... "Because
I know you, Princess Allura.
And I know you just couldn't go without
getting me something."

"I got you a lump of coal, as you deserve." she huffed playfully.

The Voltron Commander suddenly began to laugh.

"You've got your holidays mixed up there, Princess." Keith jested. "Coal is an Earth tradition, given to naughty boys and girls at Christmas time."

"Well...you're naughty, nevertheless! And I should save it for you until we celebrate your Christmas holiday in a month from now!" Allura replied.

"Okay, you save the coal.  I'm going riding." Keith said, releasing her from his grasp, and walking ahead of her.  He turned to shoot her a glance... "Well, are you going to stand there all day and mope, or are you coming with me?"

"I should return to my room," Allura snorted.

Keith shrugged his shoulders once again. "Suit yourself, Princess.  See ya later."

"On the other hand," she said with a sudden change of heart, "perhaps I should come along and give you the details of your not-so-surprise party for tomorrow."

Keith's head was turned away from her. A wide smile broke out over his face. "Okay, Princess... if that's what you want."

"Oh you!" she spat out jokingly, as she ran to catch up with him. "You know I'm only kidding with you, Keith!"

"Oh, were you now?' he winked. "Well, in that case..."

Keith then extended his elbow to her, and they walked toward the Castle gate, heading for the stable. And a watchful pair of eyes followed their every move.



They arrived at the stables several minutes later.  Allura took hold of her favorite riding horse, Sweetheart, and fed her a lump of sugar she had been handed to her by one of the stable attendants.  Sweetheart was saddled up and ready to go.

Keith preferred to saddle up his own horse, feeling the joy of a job well done.  Allura had mounted her horse and turned to Keith, who was just finishing

"I'll meet you over by the tree!" she called to him. "I'm going to let Sweetheart feed on some field grass."

"Fine!" Keith called out to her, as he secured the safety strap in place around his horse's midsection. "I'll be there in a few moments."

Allura tapped her horse gently in the ribs to nudge her forward.  Keith returned his concentration back to his task.

But his thoughts suddenly strayed to his last conversation with Gem.  He realized Allura was right in her suspicions of the woman.  He had to watch his step around her.  He didn't want to give her any indication that he might be interested in her...when in fact, there was nothing farther from the truth.

His hope, actually, was that Gem and Lance would hit it off.   Hopefully, that would happen, letting him off the hook.

Keith mounted his horse, and soon joined the Princess.
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