"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 16
The First and Last Dance

After dinner had concluded, Allura led Keith over to the specially prepared birthday cake, followed by a huge crowd of partygoers.  From behind him, Lance approached quietly, pulling on Keith's arm to slow him up.

"Hey there, buddy, are you okay?"
Lance asked, concerned about his
friend's appearance.

Keith leaned back to Lance.
"How do I look?" he asked weakly.

"Like a Arusian Pouchfish who's
been out of the water too long." Lance
replied. "You look...sort of okay.
But I know better."

"Gee, thanks, Lance."
Keith replied, full of sarcasm.  "Does it look like I'm sick?"

"Outwardly...not really." Lance confirmed. "But..."

"Outwardly is all I care about." Keith replied, cutting Lance short.
"Just keep an eye out for me...in case I get into trouble."

"Are you going to make it?" Lance asked.

"I'm pretty sure I am. I can slip out as soon as the formalities are over." Keith replied. "Not to change the subject, but...did you ever find Gem?"

Lance shook his head. "It's like she vanished or something." Lance said. "I've searched everywhere.  She's not around, Keith."

"Well, maybe Lieutenant Commander 'Come on Strong', scared her away!" Keith said, attempting to smile.

"You just wish you had my charisma and charm with the ladies!" Lance replied, elbowing Keith playfully.

"Oh...is that what you call it?" Keith needled him back. "I thought maybe you were just plain old annoying!"

"If I thought I could win a fight with you, I'd drop the gloves here and now!" Lance joked. "But, since you have the best record in the Alliance in hand-to-hand combat, I'll cut you a break this time."

"Wow, you're real considerate, Lance." Keith mused.

The two men started to laugh until Allura called for Keith to cut the cake.

Keith walked up to the cake.  Leaning on the side of the table a bit, he took the knife from the Princess's hand.  As he glided it through the cake, the crowd, at Allura's direction, began to sing a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday" to the Voltron Commander.

As they were finishing, Keith proceeded to cut the cake where Allura had directed him.

After finishing, he left the knife in the cake. "You know, its bad luck for me to pull it out on my birthday," he chucked at the Princess.

Allura giggled at him. "Oh...well we can't have that!" And then, she whisked it out of the cake.

"Hey Princess..." Pidge shouted. "You and Keith start the dancing!"

Others in the crowd began to vocalize their agreement with Pidge.

Allura turned to Keith. "Shall we?"
she said, extending her hand to him.

Feeling weak suddenly, he mentally
gathered his strength to dance with her.

"I would be...most honored... Your Highness."
Keith replied, suddenly finding it harder to fill air into his lungs.

He took Allura's hand, and began to slowly lead her to the dance floor.  The tremendous crowd parted, allowing Keith to escort her through.

As they reached the middle of the floor, the orchestra started up, playing a very tender and romantic melody.

Keith whirled the Princess around in his arms, wishing with all of his being that he might be able to enjoy this moment for what it was.

But he was too busy concentrating on the fact that his knees were beginning to buckle beneath him against his will.

As they took another turn, the crowd applauded the Princess and her Commander.

Keith was suddenly feeling like the world was crashing in around him.  Allura lifted her chin from a top of his shoulder, feeling him tremble suddenly.

"Keith?" she asked him. "Are you alright?"

The Voltron Commander gazed into her eyes blankly...now appearing to be just moving out of instinct.

"Allura...I..." he tried to say something, but suddenly found he couldn't speak.

"What's wrong?" Allura asked with sudden panic at his expressionless face. "Keith, answer me...are you alright?"

Keith tried to speak, but found the words not connecting from his brain to his mouth.

He suddenly stumbled, and the two of them stopped dancing immediately.  Keith's ears began to magnify the sound of the music being played...then the sound was suddenly distorted and growing very distant rapidly.

Without warning, Keith's eyes rolled up toward the back of his head, and then, he dropped to floor abruptly.

Frantic gasps escaped the mouths of the guests that had surrounded the dance floor to watch the first dance.

Allura herself needed only a split second and a gasp, before she screamed in horror...

"KEITH!"

She quickly dropped down on
her knees to his side.

"SOMEONE HELP!"

"GET DOCTOR GORMA!"
Lance shouted as he too rushed to
Keith's side, joining the distraught Princess.

Immediately, a number of people
came to her aid, including the
remaining members of the Voltron Force,
Sven, Romelle and Bandor.

Dr. Gorma too, made his way through the crowd, seeing what had happened to Keith from where he stood. Coran and Marshall Graham also quickly made their way to the Princess's side.

"Lance," Allura looked over to him as he knelt down to Keith's side.  He looked at the Princess, a look of anguish was on her face.

Dr. Gorma stooped down to Keith, taking his temperature with his hand.  A quick look at Keith's eyes told the royal doctor that something was terribly wrong.

He looked up sternly at the Princess and Lance. "We need to get him to the infirmary... immediately!"

"What is it?" Lance asked.

"I can tell you its not the flu.  He's slipped into some sort of toxic shock.  I can't do anything for him here." Gorma replied.

"Toxic shock?" Lance replied. "From what?"

"I won't know that until I get examine him!" Gorma replied. "We need to get him out of here...now!"

Allura turned her head upward to the Sven and Coran. "Can you take care of the guests for me?" she asked them.

"We'll take care of tings here, Princess. Go wit Keit." Sven assured her.

"Sven is right, Princess.  Accompany the Doctor to the infirmary.  As soon as we have cleared the crowd, we will join you." Coran added.

Dr. Gorma had called for a gurney. "Gorma here. Commander Keith Hunter has collapsed in the main ballroom.  Send a portable gurney immediately!"

Allura took the back of her hand and gently caressed the side of  Keith's face.  She began to shake her head in disbelief... "I should have canceled this from this morning." She lamented. "Now..."

"Princess, don't blame yourself," Lance said, reaching over and grabbing her arm. "This isn't your fault."

"I should have insisted harder that Keith remain in bed." Allura replied, as if not hearing Lance. "What's wrong with him?"

"I don't know, Princess." Lance confessed. "Let's not play a guessing game.  Let's get him to the infirmary, and let Dr. Gorma figure it out."

"Oh, Keith," she began to weep, the tears falling from her eyes onto his face. "You must be okay...you must!"

The gurney quickly arrived, and Lance, Hunk and Sven hoisted Keith up onto it.  The medics quickly shuttled him out of the ballroom, with Princess Allura walking closely behind them.

On the dance floor, Princes Romelle
turned to her brother and Sven. 

"I'll go with Allura to see if I can help her." Romelle said.

"Goot idea, Romelle." Sven replied. "I'll join you shortly."

Romelle nodded and quickly followed after her cousin.

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