"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.
Lance Gains a Friend
Lance had no sooner returned from Lion practice, that he immediately sought out Gem for companionship. He was determined to get her to take a walk with him or something. He couldn't let Keith have all of the fun.
He talked Pidge into taking his turn at watch, for a promise to take his next two-air flight patrols in exchange. Pidge agreed, leaving Lance free for the day.
"She'll fall over at my suave sophistication." Lance thought of himself.
He had been sorely disappointed when it became obvious that the Princess only had eyes for his Commander, and likewise, it was plain to see by his protectiveness, that Keith, too, was swayed by her charm and compassionate ways.
Gem was sitting in Allura's garden.
In her hand, she held the box with the golden chain inside. She had retrieved it from her room after Keith and Allura had left the Castle. More determined then ever, she decided that she would present the chain to Keith after he had returned.
Laced with poison from the Albacorn root, it would start to work shortly after it touched his skin. Keith would be gravely ill by the next day...and dead within a matter of days afterwards.
"Hey, mind if I take a seat?" Lance said, walking up to her, disturbing her thoughts.
Startled, Gem jumped.
"Oh!" she yipped. "You scared me!"
"I'm sorry, didn't mean to." Lance said. "The bench is big enough for two. Mind if I sit with you?"
Without another word, she scooted over, yielding space enough for Lance to be seated.
"Ah-h-h-h," Lance yawned, as he stretched out a bit, then threw his arms behind his head. "This is the life, huh?"
Gem didn't say a word...and she made no attempt to converse with him. Lance, however, was not willing to take her silence as a kiss-off just yet. Noticing the box in her hand, he began a conversation with her.
"Hey, what's in the box?" he asked.
"Nothing." She replied quietly.
"Nothing?" Lance repeated. "Well, looks like a whole lot of nothing, if you ask me."
Gem sighed. "It's a present...for someone."
Lance sat up suddenly, realizing who it was for. "It's for Keith, isn't it?"
Gem nodded. "Yes. I got it especially for his birthday."
"Oh," Lance frowned. "I see."
The air grew quiet. Finally, realizing this was going nowhere, Lance rose to his feet. "Okay, I came out here to ask if you'd like to take a walk with me or something. So...how about it?"
Gem looked up at him, shooting him a half-hearted smile. "Thanks, but I'm going to wait for Keith to return."
"Suit yourself." Lance replied. "But you might be waiting awhile. Keith and the Princess, they're...well...they're kind of...an unofficial item."
"Item?" Gem asked. "What's...what's an item?"
"Uh, item is...well...it's when two people like each other and should be dating each other." Lance replied.
"So, Keith and Princess Allura are dating?" Gem said sadly.
"Well, not really." Lance said, trying to explain. "You see, Keith and Allura love each other... we're all sure of it. Only both of them are too stubborn to admit it to one another. And so they go on pretending like nothing's going on at all."
"Oh, I see." Gem replied. "So, they're in love...but don't know its love?"
"Kind of, I guess." Lance replied. He then took his seat once again next to Gem on the bench. "Have you ever been in love, Gem?"
She shook her head. "Oh no! I was never allowed to be courted until I was the age of commitment."
"Age of commitment?" Lance asked with a puzzling tone. "What's that? Something from your planet?"
"Yes. The age of commitment was when a young girl reached her 18th birthday. She was then allowed to entertain suitors for the purpose of Unification in Commitment...or what you would call...marriage. Everything went through the father. He alone decided who was most appropriate for his daughter." she explained.
"Sounds kind of stuffy," Lance commented. "What if you didn't like the guy?"
"I had no say. I must obey my father. That's our tradition on Neeve. Because natural conditions were harsh, our fathers did what they could to make sure we were well cared for." Gem responded. "It was their final duty to their daughters to ensure they had placed
them in the hands of a respectable and capable man, who would care for them and protect them as he did."
"Oh...I see." Lance replied. "How is it that you escaped such a tradition?"
"Lotor." She hissed the name passed her lips. "He destroyed our world...our villages...our lives." She turned to Lance. "I was predestined to commitment with a young fellow my father had selected... but the man was killed before my eyes...along with my father and the rest of my family. Only I survived...Lotor found me...attractive."
Lance's blood began to boil with the intensity of the volcano that harbored Red Lion. "That dirty rotten...savage!" he fumed.
"He took me to his flying Doom fortress, along with several thousands of others who had survived the onslaught. Once there, however, we were immediately put on work detail." Gem finished.
"How long have you been a slave to Lotor?" Lance asked.
"Not long," she replied. "I'd say...six months at the most. Its hard to keep track of time and days when you have no point of reference any longer."
"So...all of this that you're telling me...these are fresh wounds still, aren't they?" Lance asked compassionately.
Gem nodded slowly. "Yes. I haven't even had time to mourn the loss of my family."
"And your fiancé too, right?" Lance added.
"No...you can't mourn for someone you hardly knew. Although I did feel bad that his was one of many lives destroyed by Lotor's evil," Gem replied. "It wasn't the same as mourning the ones you really loved and cherished."
Lance sat back on the bench, trying to absorb all of what Gem had told him. He remembered his own experiences as a young child.
He sighed finally. "I can understand how you feel," Lance replied. "My village was destroyed by Zarkon when I was a boy. My mother, brother and sister were either killed or taken prisoner. I never knew which. I never saw or heard from them again. My other sister and I escaped, and fled to Planet Earth to join with my father."
Gem turned to Lance. "Oh, I'm so sorry."
Lance waved his hand in front of him. "Nah, don't be. It's made me a stronger person." Then he turned to Gem once again. "You know...all of us have had our lives changed because of some horror that either Zarkon, Lotor, or the Drule Empire have caused."
"How so?" she asked.
"Well, Keith for instance. His parents were both lost, assumed killed in a mission they were flying when he was only 13 years old. He was on Earth still when he received word of their disappearance. It was assumed that agents of the Drules destroyed the Alliance space
cruiser his parents served on. Keith was orphaned." Lance said.
Then he added to his tale:
"Then, there's Pidge. His whole planet of Balto was destroyed. Most of the people escaped death, but many were taken captive, too. And Hunk, too. Although he didn't experience a personal loss by Zarkon or Lotor, he was emotionally scared when he, along with the rest of our team, was captured by Zarkon when we first came to Arus to revive Voltron."
"How sad..." Gem said sympathetically.
"Then...worst of all, I think, is Princess Allura. She endured the tragedy of losing both her mother and then later, her father to Zarkon. Her mother died of disease, and her father was killed while fighting Zarkon in defense of Arus. She assumed the throne at age 11. She was the youngest monarch this planet's history had ever seen. And she was forced to give up her childhood in exchange for the crown she was forced to bear."
Gem remained quiet. Lance sat back once again. "So, we've all got it bad."
"Lance," Gem asked quietly.
"Would...would you like
to take that walk?" she asked, as she
rose up to her feet.
Lance looked up at her with a smile.
"Sure!" he said
He immediately rose to his
feet and extended his arm to her.
"My Lady?" he said, full of charm.
She gladly rose to her feet and accepted his gesture of escort. The two of them walked together in the royal gardens, sharing a common bondand perhaps, the beginning of much more.