"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 13
The Big Day

Princess Allura had been up most of the night putting on the final touches to her party plans. She had only gotten a few hours of sleep, and there was no time to get any more.  She hurriedly put on her pink jumpsuit and grabbed the seating chart, intending to bring it down to
the ballroom staff before she went to breakfast.

She walked into the ballroom, and saw the staff scurrying around, setting up tables and chairs. The head attendant was helping one of his staff set up the head table, when she approached them both.

"Good morning!" she said cheerfully.

The two of them stopped what they were doing.  The staff member curtseyed to the Princess, while the head attendant bowed humbly.

"Your Majesty," the attendant greeted Allura. "What may I do for you?"

"I wanted to stop by and give you a list I have prepared for seating.  It's very detailed, containing all of the names of those attending this evening, along with where they are to be seated.  I hope it will be useful to you." Allura said, handing over the paper to the attendant.

He looked at it and smiled. "Ah yes, Your Highness!  This is perfect!  I can definitely use this. Thank you!"

"There will be 450 people in attendance this evening, so make sure we have plenty of beverages and snacks before dinner." Allura advised.

"Not to worry, Princess.  We'll have everything in place as you have requested." The attendant replied.  "The live orchestra will be here later on this afternoon to set up."

"That's wonderful!  I want to thank you for your efforts.  I appreciate you and your staff.  This is a very important occasion."  Allura added.

"Yes, Commander Keith's birthday, I'm told!" The attendant smiled. 'I'm sure he will bless your name, Your Highness."

"Well, a simple thank you and a dance, I think, should be quite sufficient." she smiled. "Well, I guess I'll leave you and your staff to work your magic.  If you need me for anything, don't
hesitate to ask."

"Yes, Princess!" The attendant smiled, bowing once again to her before she took her leave of him.

Allura exited the ballroom, confident that everything was in capable hands.  She smiled to herself at Keith's expression yesterday, when he discovered it was a ball she was throwing in his honor, not just a mere party.

The thought brought a giggle out of her as she proceeded to the dining hall for breakfast.

Upon entering it, she found, of course, Hunk, to be the only person there.

"Good morning, Hunk!" Allura greeted cheerfully.

"Good morning to you, Princess!" Hunk replied with as much cheer as he was greeted with. "Sleep well?"

"I had a busy night, I'm afraid.  But, I got a lot accomplished." She seated herself in her usual chair. "Are we it for breakfast?"

"Guess so..." he replied. "And boy, am I starved!"

Allura cupped her hand over her mouth to stifle the laugh she felt coming on.  The servants brought a plate out each for Hunk and Allura.  She had just finished laying her napkin onto her lap with Coran walked into the room.

"Good morning, Princess." Coran said, bowing before her.

"Good morning, Coran." Allura returned the greeting.

"Did you sleep at all last night?" he asked, knowing full well that she had not.

Allura smirked at him. "Why do you always ask me questions, that you already know the answers to?"

"To amuse myself with your answer, perhaps." He replied with a smile. "Really Allura, you should not have spent the entire night with sleep.  You need your rest."

"One night out of a thousand is not going to kill me, Coran." she replied, taking a sip of orange juice. "Besides, it's for a worthy cause."

"I don't believe that the Commander will be very pleased to know that you have lost a night's rest on his behalf." Coran commented, as he added cream to his tea. "You know he does not appreciate you doing things that cause you more harm then good."

"Keith will just have to understand." Allura snorted. "As will you, Coran."

"Obviously" Coran said, clearing his throat. "Since it is just as obvious that you do not listen to me or the Commander, when we give you advice for your own good."

"Hey, speaking of Keith...where is he?" Hunk said, while chewing his eggs.

Coran sighed, exasperated with Hunk's table manners.

"I believe he was going to sleep in today." Allura replied as she cut up the sausage on her plate.

"Yeah, but still... it's almost nine in the morning, and he's never slept this late before." Hunk said, food now coming out of his mouth as he spoke.

"I'm sure he's just sleeping in, Hunk." Allura assured. "Either that, or he's in the Castle Weight Room, exercising."

"Yeah, I suppose so... I was just worried about him.  He said he was tired last night, and looked it too.  He skipped dessert.  Why do you suppose he would do that?" Hunk asked.

"Maybe because he didn't want to watch you eat," Pidge replied as he entered the room. "You're a slob, Hunk old buddy!"

"Hey! Who asked you, pip-squeak!" Hunk replied, faking injury from Pidge's words.

"Good morning, Princess...Coran..." Pidge said as he passed to take a seat.

In right after him was Lance.

"Okay...there had better be some left for me, or I'm going to have to execute someone this morning!" the Red Lion pilot blurted out suddenly.

"Yep, Hunk didn't eat it all yet..." Pidge replied, further teasing his oversized friend.

"You know, you guys...you can sometimes be a bit too much, you know?" Hunk spat out, obviously becoming annoyed at this level.

"But you love us anyway!" Lance said, suddenly walking up behind Hunk and wrapping his arms around him. "I love you too, man!"

Hunk shook free of Lance's hug. "Get off of me!" Hunk huffed. "Jerk...!"

"Yeah, that's me...the jerk!" Lance replied, taking his seat.  He scanned the room suddenly. "Oh, Gem's not here?"

Allura looked at him. "Why no.  I haven't seen her since yesterday."

Lance grabbed the coffee and poured a cup while he waited for his plate of food. "That's weird.  I knocked at her door on the way here, and she didn't answer."

"Well, maybe she's asleep, dummy!" Pidge teased.

"Or maybe she's ignoring you!" Hunk added.

"Yeah, maybe she thinks you remind her of a Polluxian blood turtle, and can't stand the sight of you!" Pidge teased again.

"Yeah, and is afraid to tell you that you smell!" Hunk laughed.

"Oh...you two are very funny." Lance huffed.

"Geez Lance, you can dish it out, but can't take it in, can you?" Hunk needled his friend.

"I can take it just as well as the next guy!" Lance defended. "I'm just worried about Gem."

Nearly finished with breakfast, Allura wiped her mouth with her napkin. "If you'd like, I can go and check on her for you."

Lance smiled. "Would you?  It would be better if you did it, then me."

"Of course, Lance.  I'd be happy to." Allura replied.

She finished her meal and rose to her feet, excusing herself from the table.   It also gave her an excuse to check the weight room and speak to Keith, being hopefully the first to wish him a Happy Birthday.




Keith opened his eyes to the sound of his alarm clock buzzing.  He turned over in his bed and reached for the clock, turning off the noisy box.  He squinted as his eyes focused in on the time on the clock 9:02am.

"What?" Keith shouted aloud,
jumping up all of a sudden. 

He had set the alarm for 7:30am.
Which meant that his alarm had been
going off for an hour and a half.

"How the heck could I sleep through that?"
he questioned himself sternly.

He flipped back the covers and jumped out of bed.  The moment his feet hit the floor, he dropped down to his knees, feeling weak as a newborn suddenly.

"Whoa...what the..." he said quietly.

Then it hit him...like a ton of bricks.  The headache, the nauseous feeling, the weakness...

"The flu?" he said with a groan. "Oh no... not today!  I can't have the flu today!  Allura will positively kill me!"

Keith grabbed hold of his bedside and hoisted himself up to his feet.  Then, he stumbled over to the desk, pulling out the chair and siting down on it.  His hands immediately reached for his headholding it as he rocked back and forth.

"This is not good..."
he whispered, feeling
like he was going to throw up.

Wasting no time, he immediately
opened the COM to the infirmary.
Dr. Gorma's face appeared on the screen.

"Commander Keith!" he greeted
cheerfully. "Happy Birthday to you!"

"Yeah...its not beginning so happy, I'm afraid." Keith groaned.

"What's wrong, Commander?" Dr. Gorma asked.

"I think it's the flu, doc." he replied. "Got anything you can give me to get me through the day?  The Princess isn't going to be very pleased with me if I spoil her party plans."

Dr. Gorma smiled. "I have just the thing.  Wait there, Commander.  I'll come by and bring it."

"Don't worry about me leaving," Keith replied. "I have no intention on leaving this room."

"I'll be there shortly. Gorma out."

The screen darkened immediately as the COM link was severed.  Keith sat back in his desk chair, feeling like the world was spinning and wishing he could get off.  Suddenly there was a knock at the door.

"Wow, that was fast," Keith commented about Dr. Gorma.

He stumbled to the door and opened it without asking who it was on the other side.  Keith was startled suddenly... it wasn't whom he had been expecting.

"Am I intruding, sleepy head?" Allura said with a smile.

Adrenaline began pumping through Keith's veins as she suddenly forgot his ill state of being.

"Hey! Good morning, Princess!"

"And good morning to you...and Happy Birthday!" she greeted.

"Thank you, Allura!" he replied. "I'd invite you in...but...uh...I have some things to do this morning."

"I just came by to make sure you were okay.  Hunk was worried about you from last night.  He said you didn't eat your dessert." she said. 

"Hunk seems to think there's something wrong with anyone who passes on dessert!" Keith said with a chuckle.  "But, I'm fine."

"Well, that's good to hear," Allura replied.  "By the way, have you heard from Gem at all?"

The question drew a puzzling look from Keith. "Not since last night when I checked on her. Why?"

"Well, she's not in her room, and I'm becoming concerned." Allura said.

"I'm sure she's fine.  Did you check the Castle gardens?" Keith suggested.

"Yes, and she wasn't there." Allura replied.

"Well, it's a big Castle.  She's around somewhere.  She'll show up." Keith assured. "Don't worry, Princess.  And don't let Lance send you out on some wild goose chase looking for her, either!  She'll show up when she's ready.  She probably needs some time alone."

Allura sighed. "Yes...I suppose you're right.  I just can't shake this feeling I have about her. I've tried to...but..."

"Allura, remember what I told you yesterday..." Keith reminded.

"Yes...not to blow things out of proportion.  But I'm not so sure I'm wrong, Keith." Allura replied.

"Well, don't worry about her," Keith said, placing his hand on her shoulder. "You've got a ton of other stuff to worry about today."

Allura was suddenly aware of how warm Keith's hand was. "Are you okay?" she asked him. "You're hand feels hot..."

Keith quickly withdrew his hand. "I'm fine...really."

Dr. Gorma walked up behind the Princess. "Then why did you call me, if you're feeling fine, Commander?"

Allura's eyebrows knitted together as she gasped. "Keith?  What's going on here?"

"Great timing, doc," Keith thought.   "I called Dr. Gorma, Princess.   You might as well know... I think I have the flu or something."

"Oh Keith!" she gasped, quickly bringing her hand up to his forehead.  "You're burning up!"

Dr. Gorma gently moved the Princess aside and grabbed his monitor.  He immediately took Keith's vital signs. Gorma looked up at Keith.  "Commander, I think you should sit down."

"Why?  It's only the flu...right?" Keith began to protest.

"You're carrying a fever of 101.2 degrees, Commander.  Why don't you come with me and we'll fix you up." Gorma said.

"I'm coming in too." Allura added as she followed the two men.

Dr. Gorma grabbed hold of Keith's arm and escorted him to his bed.  "Young man, you are sick!"

"No kidding..." Keith said quietly. "Can you fix it?"

"I have something that will bring down the fever and clear up your symptoms.  But you really need to rest today." Dr. Gorma replied.

"But... Allura's party?" Keith gasped.

"Perhaps if you're feeling better, you can attend." Dr. Gorma replied.

"Perhaps???" Keith shouted.

"Keith, the doctor's right." Allura added,
sitting at the end of the bed.
"If you can't attend, we can figure out some
other way for you to join.   Maybe by monitor
feed..."

"Absolutely not!  I'm gong to that party, and that's final!" Keith insisted.

"Only if you feel well enough to, Commander." Gorma replied.

"Just... give me the stuff and let me sleep it off.  I'll recover." Keith said.

He saw the worry on Allura's face.  It brought a smile to his. "Hey, I'll be okay...don't worry."

"Oh Keith..." Allura sighed.

"Hey...I said I'll be okay.  If I have to get there in a wheelchair, I wouldn't miss this for the world...flu or no flu!" Keith said, trying to comfort her.

"I'll stay here with him, Dr. Gorma.  Please inform Coran on my whereabouts." Allura said.

"Yes Princess." Gorma said, as he placed the medicine patch on Keith's arm. "This should start to take effect in a few minutes.  You're going to feel noticeably lightheaded and sleepy. Allow the medicine to do its job and go to sleep."

Dr. Gorma rose to his feet and walked over to the desk. "If he needs another patch, I'm leaving one here."

"I understand." Allura acknowledged.

Dr. Gorma bowed to the Princess and gave one last instruction to Keith. "Get some rest, and by all means, Commander, don't fight the medicine."

Keith smiled weakly, beginning to feel the effects that Dr. Gorma described. "Okay, I'll be a good boy."

Dr. Gorma nodded with a smile, and left the room.

Allura instantly reached for Keith's hand. "Why didn't you tell me you were feeling this way?"

"I didn't want to ruin your plans." He sighed. "You worked so hard to pull this together...and just for me.  I couldn't bear to let you down, Allura."

"I can't bear it when you try to protect me from things that I really should know about." She replied. "Now promise me if you are feeling ill later that you'll tell me right away."

Keith nodded tiredly. "I...I think the medicine is working.  I'm feeling very tired."

"Good." Allura said softly. "Now do as Dr. Gorma instructed...and go to sleep."

"Seems silly to sleep when I just woke up..." Keith mumbled weakly.

Allura reached her free hand up to his forehead, and began to softly caress him. "Shhh," she cooed softly. "Close your eyes."

Feeling as if his eyelids weighed an enormous amount, Keith closed them slowly. "Promise..." He said in his final moments of awareness.

"Promise what?" she asked softly.

"That...you'll...always...be...here...when...I..." he said, his voice slowly dissipating.

Allura smiled as she watched him go to sleep.  She leaned down and whispered gently in his ear. "I'll always be here, Keith. I'll never be far from your side."

After saying that, she leaned down and kissed him gently on the forehead.  She pulled away, suddenly concerned that his fever seemed to be rising, rather than going down.  She shook her head at him as she watched him sleep.

It was going to be a long day.

And the day had just begun.
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