"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.


Chapter 10
Could This Be Love?

The horses stopped by a small creek bed, where the water lazily drifted by.   Keith hopped down off of his horse.

"Is it okay if we rest a bit?" he asked, feeling tired from the hour-long riding they had done so far.

"It looks like a lovely spot to rest." Allura replied with a smile.

Keith tied up his horse's reigns to a nearby bush, and then walked over to the Princess's horse to assist her off of it.

"Here," he said, extending his hands up to her. "Let me help you down."

Although Allura was quite capable to dismount her horse on her own, she welcomed his assistance.

"Why, thank you, Commander." she replied formally.  "That's very kind of you!"

He reached up and grabbed her under her arms, and she slid down off of the saddle.   As her feet reached the ground, she suddenly found herself staring into a pool of dark, mysterious eyes...eyes that she found herself lost in every time she looked into them.

Keith too, found himself lost in the beautiful ocean blue eyes of the Princess.

"Thank you, Keith." she smiled gently, her hands resting lightly on his chest.

"You're welcome." he replied, touched by her smile. "Uh...I guess I'd... better tie down your horse."

"Um...yes." Allura replied shyly. "I suppose so."

He led her horse to stand where his was, tying it up to the same bush.   He reached into his saddlebag and grabbed a blanket.  

Turning to her, he smiled. "Just give me a second to spread this out..."

She watched him as he opened up the blanket, crisply snapping it in the air, presumably to straighten it out.   Keith then laid it on the ground before her.   Neatly spreading out the corners of the blanket, and satisfied with his task, he looked up at her as he rose to his feet.

"This okay?"

She nodded with a smile.

Keith waited silently for Allura to be seated first.  Allura curled her legs up and tucked them underneath her as she proceeded to sit down.   Keith then laid down on the blanket, a comfortable distance away from her.   He stretched his arms over his head, making them act
like a pillow.

Allura looked around her...and took in the breathtaking beauty of her planet.   Taking a long draw of air, she exhaled it suddenly and spoke,

"Mm-m-m, isn't this wonderful?  Just smell that clean, fresh air."

Keith had his eyes closed as he took his long draw of fresh air. "Yeah, its great." he replied. "It sure is good to get away from duty and responsibility once in a while."

"Yes, it is." She said pleasantly. "It's nice to just be a normal woman and enjoy life once in a while."

Keith opened his eyes for a moment.   Looking straight up into the trees, he sighed as he pondered her thought... "Yeah, no one calling you, asking you your opinion on something, or requiring your attention for something..."

"Just peace and quiet.   This is the life..." she sighed as well. Allura looked at Keith as he lay spread out on the blanket. "I sometimes curse the fact that I'm a princess."

Interested in what she had to say, Keith rolled over to his side, facing her.

"Why?" he asked, beckoning her to continue her thought as he propped his head up with his elbow.

Allura brought her knees up to her body, and crossed her arms in front of them, pulling them tightly to her. "Well, my position and my stature don't afford me times like this.   Do you realize how good you boys have it?" she said, beginning to vent a bit of  frustration. "You can come and go as you please, no one to answer to, no one to tell you no, and no one that follows you around day and night..." she sighed.

"I'm sorry if it seems like I hound you, " Keith said quietly. "I just want to make sure you're protected."

"I know...its your duty to protect me," she replied dryly.

"Oh no, its more than that, Allura." Keith said, now averting her gaze.

Curious as to where he was going with this, she allowed him to continue. "Go on..."

Well...protecting you is my job, as you very well know..." Keith stammered. "But, to me...it's more than a job.  It's...well...it's... an excuse."

"An excuse?" she asked. "Why an excuse?"

"Great going, Keith!   Now you're in trouble!" he condemned himself.

"Its just that...well, it's an excuse I can use to see you more  often." Keith admitted.

"But...you see me all of the time." Allura replied.

"Not like this... not like we're doing right now." he stated. "Look around you.  Who's here?"

"No one, of course." she replied.

"That's just it.  No one's here.  No one to tell me that I can't just sit and talk with you.  Just to sit and absorb your companionship.   No one to tell you..."

"That it's beneath my station to have fun." Allura finished his thought. "No one to remind me that I need to behave as a princess should!"

Keith quickly sat up straight. "Exactly!" he pointed out. "No one to tell either of us that we shouldn't be spending time together."

"But Keith...why would anyone tell us that?" she asked. "We're just two friends... out having a good time in each other's company."

"Princess," Keith began. "I've...I've never had a friendship with a woman before.  Not like the one I share with you.  I can tell you anything... all of my hopes, my dreams...my thoughts" Keith suddenly started to become frustrated. "Everything except one part of my life that I'm afraid to share with you"

Allura leaned in toward him, and placed her hand gently on the top his hand. "You can tell me anything, Keith." she said assuredly.

Keith began shaking his head. "No...not this."

"Keith...anything." She reiterated, squeezing his hand a bit tighter. "I'm here for you."

"I wish you really were, Princess." He thought with a sigh before continuing.

"I can't tell you.  I wish I could...but...I really shouldn't.   I shouldn't even be thinking what I'm thinking, and feeling what I'm feeling!"

"What's wrong?" she tried once again. "If something's bothering you, just say it.   Is it something to do with your birthday?"

"No." Keith said, suddenly lying back down onto the blanket, flat on his back. "Some things are just better left unsaid."

"It depends on what those 'some things' are.   You never know what response you get unless you dare to try." Allura said, coaxing him into relieving his mind of the burden he was carrying.

Keith propped himself back up onto his elbows, still avoiding her gaze...her eyes most of all...

"She's right," he thought. "You'll never know unless you try..."

Keith suddenly sat up once again, and met her gaze head on.  Taking a deep breath, he leaned in toward her... and kissed her gently on the cheek.

Not exactly where he wanted to go with it...but that's all he would dare to do until he saw her reaction.

When Keith pulled back from her, he caught sight of her surprised expression...and suddenly regretted the kiss.

Raising to his feet suddenly, he turned away from her , blurting out; "I apologize, Your Highness!  I should not have done that!"

Allura slowly lifted her hand up to her cheek where Keith had just kissed her.  She had a warm feeling all about her.  Something had \changed between them...in that one single moment... something had change... forever.

"I'm sorry, Princess." Keith said once again, regretfully.

"What's with all the formality, all of a sudden?" Allura said.

"I overstepped my bounds with you!" Keith replied sharply. "It was stupid, and it showed a lack of self-control! I'm sorry!"

"I'm not," Allura replied.

Keith's head snapped around instantly, meeting a facial expression that he had never seen on her before. "I was out of line, Princess.  I should have never..."

"Why?' Allura replied abruptly, rising to her knees. "Because I'm a princess?   Is that what makes me so much different from other women?"

"Exactly!" Keith quickly replied. "I am suppose to be your protector not your...uh...I just ...     I just shouldn't have done it, that's all!"

"My what, Keith?" Allura asked.

"Never mind, Princess." he replied.  "Let's just pretend it never happened...."

"My what, Keith?" Allura repeated.  "My love?"

Keith reacted as if he had been smacked in the head.  "Princess...we...we just can't.  We shouldn't..."

"Why not?" she said, rising to her feet and walking right up to where he stood. "Look at me, Keith!  I'm a woman...a living, breathing woman!  I'm not some untouchable being that you should keep at arm's length!"

"You're the Princess of Arus!  You hold a high station of authority!  I'm...I'm... I'm just a pilot...a nobody...a..."

"Now see here, Commander Keith Hunter!" she shouted at him suddenly, interrupting him in mid-sentence. "I will not stand by and listen to you degrade yourself!  You are the most compassionate, kindhearted, caring man I have ever had the pleasure to meet!  Don't let me ever hear you put yourself down like that again!"

Keith remained silent for a moment, staring at her intently.  He allowed her to continue...

"You have always been here for me when I've needed you...and even when I didn't.  When you left for Earth, after Lotor was incarcerated, I can not begin to tell you how hard I cried...and for  many days, I despaired over losing you!   I thought I would never breathe again!   I was crushed!   And now that you've returned...you think you can just tell me what I can and can not feel for you..."

"What are you saying, Allura?" Keith questioned her. "We shouldn't be thinking these things about each other!  Its...its not proper... is it?"

She quickly grabbed his hand in her two. "All I'm saying is if there is something growing between the two of us, we have the responsibility to invest some more time in finding out if it is
something real or not!"

"But..." Keith began a protest.

"No buts!" she said in a raised voice. "We owe it to ourselves.  Unless of course, you have no such feelings for me, and I'm babbling on like a running river, over nothing..."

"No, you're right.!   It's just..." Keith started to say. "What will Coran say when he finds out?"

"He doesn't have to find out anything, Keith." Allura replied. "Besides, its not his life...its mine!"

"I know...but..." Keith once again protested. "I would feel like we're hiding something from him by not telling him."

"Hear me, Keith.   If there is something that should blossom between us in the near future, then we can talk to Coran about it together.   As for now... he doesn't need to know." Allura suggested.

"I feel like we're deceiving him." Keith replied.

"We're not deceiving him." Allura pointed out. "We're just... waiting for the right moment to tell him!  And that moment will be after we decide for ourselves if this will work between us."

Keith nodded at her wisdom. "Okay...you win.  We won't say anything to anyone...for now."

"Agreed." Allura said with a smile. "Now, let's ride back to the Castle.  I have a ton of things to do tomorrow before the ball."

"BALL?" he shouted suddenly. "YOU'RE THROWING ME A BALL?"

"Well ...yes!" she replied with a puzzled look on her face. "You said you knew all about it."

"I knew you were throwing me a party for my birthday... but.... I had no idea it was going to be a ball!" Keith said, a shocked look coming over him suddenly.

"My parties are festive occasions." Allura snorted. "Why?  Is our mighty Voltron Commander suddenly becoming weak in the knees?"

"It's just... I had no idea it was going to be that big of an affair!" Keith replied nervously.

"Well, now you know." She stated matter-of-factly. "And I have plenty to do before then.   I'll probably take in dinner in my chambers this evening."

Keith stood ...dumbstruck. "A ball?  As in... gala?  For me?" he thought silently.

Allura had untied their horses while he was standing there, lost in thought. "Keith...hello... are you in there?" she called into his ear.

He suddenly shook himself back to reality. "Huh?  What?  Oh... I'm sorry, Princess... I was... uh..."

"Let's just go back the Castle, shall we?" she suggested with a broad smile. "I think we've had enough surprise discoveries for one day.  Don't you?"

"Uh...yeah...sure." Keith stammered as he helped her mount her horse.

He quickly reached down and grabbed the blanket.   Rolling it in a ball, he stuffed it in the saddlebag and tied the bag closed once again.  Then he mounted his horse as well.

"Ready?" he asked her.

"Yes," she replied.

"Yeee-aaaah!" Keith shouted, sparking life in the animals, instructing them to gallop back.

As they rode back, Keith's mind began to wonder....

"Could this be love?" he asked himself, regarding her feelings for him.

At the same moment, Allura pondered a similar thought...

"Could it be possible that I have fallen in love with Keith?  Could it be that I have met the man I am destine to marry?"

Suddenly, as they both turned to look at each other, their eyes met... and locked.

As the horses trotted off toward the Castle, love began to slowly trott into their lives... a word that would become more meaningful to them both, as time went on.