"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 22
Bittersweet Recovery

Several hours had passed since the lifesaving Parma elixir was injected into the bloodstream of the ailing Voltron Commander.  He lay resting comfortably in the infirmary, unaware that Princess Allura was no longer on Arus, but in the clutches of Prince Lotor.

Gem had sat next to Keith's bedside, holding a constant vigil over him as he recovered slowly. Just as she had said, the Parma caused the infection to be cast out of the body by way of perspiration.

Fortunately for all of them, Lotor, for once, kept a promise, delivering the Parma bark as he had agreed to deliver.

Every once in a while, Gem would take a cool cloth to Keith's forehead, wiping the sweat from his brow as he slept peacefully...more peacefully then he had slept in a few nights since he had been infected by the Albacorn Root.

Behind her stood Pidge and Lance.  Sven remained behind on Arus, sending Romelle and Bandor back to Pollux.  Together, Sven and Hunk scouted space, desperately searching for any sign of the Princess.

The mood in the room was glum, as they all had time to ponder in silence, the sacrifice that their princess, friend and comrade had made only hours before. Now...she was gone, and with her, the brightness that once lingered merrily in the Castle.

Gem quickly turned around to the boys behind her. "I think he's coming around!" she said brightly, drawing their attention to Keith's bedside.

Pidge and Lance quickly huddled around their fallen leader, watching patiently for him to open his eyes.  They didn't have to wait long and for Sven, it wouldn't have been long enough.

Keith slowly opened his eyes, feeling the strain in his eye muscles as he blinked.  The fever he had carried had taken a lot out of him...he slept for nearly six hours after the medicine was administered.

Keith looked up and saw all of his friends surrounding the bed from all ends.  He smiled weakly at all of them.

Even Coran was there with them.

"Hey guys," his weak and raspy voice echoed.

"Hey, Keith!" Lance smiled, reaching down and grabbing one of his feet, squeezing it a bit.

Each greeted Keith, happy that he was going to recover.  Keith attempted to sit up a bit, scanning the room for the one person he hadn't seen or heard from yet...

"Guys," he said with a half-smile on his face. "Where's the Princess?"

"She's...uh...not here." Pidge said innocently. 

Keith blinked his eyes slightly.  "I can see that, Pidge," Keith said weakly.  "I mean, where is she right now?"

"Oh, uh, Sven sent her and Bandor to Pollux." Pidge replied, trying to act dumb, hoping to throw Keith off long enough to change the subject...

As if...

"Guys, I mean Allura, not Romelle..." he said again with a smile before anyone could utter another word. "Where's Princess Allura?  You know...Blue Lion's pilot... Princess of Arus... Why isn't she here?  Don't tell me she has something better to do then..."

"Keith, uh...we...um," Lance fumbled over his words. "We have something to tell you"

"Yeah, well, you see...um..." Pidge also stumbled.

Keith's vision narrowed, as he looked at his friends, throwing them a suspicious stare. "What's going on here?" he said sharply. "Where's Allura?"

Lance sighed, drawing Keith's attention toward him.  Shaking his head, he frowned at his friend. "Keith...well...she...uh..."

"Out with it!" Keith said angrily, his patience now wearing thin.

"She's...uh...gone, Keith," Pidge said in a low voice.

Keith blinked a few times. "Gone?" he said calmly. "Gone...where?"

Lance stepped in to help the stumbling Green Lion pilot out with the explanation.  He could see the anger building in Keith's eyes...

"She...well...she...uh...she sort of gave herself up for the Parma bark needed to save you, and uh..."

"WHAT?!?" Keith shouted angrily, feeling his blood pressure once again come to a boil. "When?  And why aren't you guys out there looking for her?!?"

"We tried, Keith..." Lance replied. "Hunk and Sven launched Yellow and Blue Lions almost immediately when they saw her being kidnapped!"

"Yeah, and Sven took the bark to the infirmary for Dr. Gorma to process, and then he joined Hunk right away, who was already in the air in pursuit of Lotor!" Pidge added.

"We were on our way back from Neeve, when this all happened, so we weren't around to join the search" Lance explained. "At least...not right away."

"And Coran was searching with the Castle's scanners" Pidge added.

"But..." Lance paused in mid sentence.

"But...?" Keith said, demanding an answer with his eyes. "But ...what?"

"But, Lotor had already escaped through a wormhole." Lance finished.

"I'm sorry, Keith." Pidge said sadly. "I...I think we lost her."

Keith sat there in his bed, blank faced, not sure if he should be angry with his team, or angry with Allura for going against his orders not to deliver herself to Lotor for his sake.

Instead, Keith let loose a long, angry grunt, causing everyone to take a step backward.

Pidge's voice was the first to speak afterward. "Uh...what should we do now?"

"Do?" Keith said sharply. "Do?  We go look for her again!  And we keep looking until we find her!"

"But...we don't know where to look," Lance mumbled. "Once Lotor's fleet disappeared into the wormhole, we lost the trail."

"Did you check the giro-scope?" Keith asked, disgusted at the moment.

"Yes, Commander," Coran said, appearing to nearly break down into tears. "We've done everything possible...but...our Princess...."

"Coran, we'll get the Princess back!" Keith said in a firmly determined voice.  He then looked up to his team. "First, get me out of here.  Then, check to see if her personal locator is activated and working."

Pidge suddenly snapped his fingers. "Of course!" he shouted. "I completely forgot to check for that!"

"Wha...wha...what's that?" Lance asked awkwardly.

"It's that new device that Keith thought up about a month ago...the tracking indicator that you wear on your person...remember?  Each of us got one to wear at all times." Pidge reminded. "I completely forgot to check to see..."

"I was not informed of such a device..." Coran pondered.

"That's because we where still testing it." Pidge added. "We wanted to make sure it worked before we told you.  We gave one to the Princess a prototype model.  She was suppose to wear it all the time, so we could test its functionality!"

"Now more then ever, I hope it is working, Pidge." Keith said quietly, as his thoughts turned to Allura. "It's all we have to go on.  We've got to get her back!  She's got to be scared out of her mind by now!"

"Our Princess..." Coran mumbled. "Arus is doomed if she is not returned!"

"We'll get her back, Coran...if it takes every last one of us to do it!" Keith vowed. Then he turned to Lance and Pidge. "Get Dr. Gorma.  I have to get out of here!"

"But Keith...is that okay to do?" Lance asked. "You're still recovering..."

"Later!  I don't have time to be sick now!  Allura's life is in danger, and none of us will rest until she's safely back on Arus!" Keith barked back, suddenly bringing his feet to the floor as he sat up in bed.

He then looked at Pidge and Lance....  "Get moving!" he shouted, startling them somewhat, before they turned to move.

Coran turned to leave. "I'll go to ops." he said, immediately walking out of the room, leaving only Gem and Keith.

She was very quiet before Keith finally lifted his hand to her face, bringing up her chin so that her gaze would meet his stare. "You're staying here, Gem." He simply said.

"I...I want you to know that it wasn't me that gave you the poison" Gem said softly.

The Voltron Commander smiled tenderly. "I know..." he whispered, using his thumb to wipe the tear that was sailing down her face. "I know you didn't, Gem."

"I have a lot to explain to you, Keith." she said quietly.

"And I'd love to listen to it...but not right now..." he replied.

"I understand," Gem said, rising to her feet. "Go find her. Bring her back."

Keith stared at Gem as she turned to go. As she reached the door, she paused before exiting through it. "I know your love for her is great...just as hers is for you.  You... you have kindred spirits...you and Allura...don't loose that."

Keith nodded silently, acknowledging her words.

Gem then turned and left the room, leaving Keith in silence...alone with his thoughts.  He had his health returned to him...but at the cost of the Princess's freedom.  He had to get her back somehow.  He just wasn't quite sure how to yet.

"I'll find you, Allura," he thought, sending the message out from his mind, hoping it would find hers. "I promise you, Allura...no matter where you are...I'll find you, and bring you back home safely to Arus."

He looked up to the ceiling of the infirmary. "If it kills me..."