"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 30
A Near Confession

A changing of the guard had occurred less then twenty minutes ago, and Lance had already fallen fast asleep.

Keith could not find it in himself to sleep, but he did catnap for the hour that Lance had the watch.

Keith huddled off in the distance, posting himself in a place where he could see the Princess, Lance and the entrance to the cargo hold they were hiding out in.  With his blaster close to his side, Keith sat; keeping a watchful eye out for anything that looked suspicious.

Allura's eyes blinked a few times, feeling coldness biting the cheek that she had been laying on for nearly two and a half-hours.  She sat up slowly, shivering suddenly as the cold seemed to go right through her.

Keith caught a glimpse of movement out to the corner of his eye, and turned to look toward her.  He smiled gently as she rose from her nap, but made no attempt to greet her.  He wanted to give her the opportunity to go back to sleep if she so chose. 

He turned his head back toward the door, resuming, 'Commander watchdog' mode.

It was only a few minutes later that he heard the soft footsteps approaching him.  He closed his eyes, almost wishing that she wouldn't come to him.

But she did...

"Keith," Allura whispered gently from just above his head. "Where are we?"

"We're in a cargo hold.  We're camping here for the night.  You really should get some more sleep.  You could use it." He replied emotionlessly.

Instead, Allura chose to sit down next to him.  Keith lamented the gesture, feeling somewhat trapped suddenly.  He so wanted her to be there with him... and yet, at the same time, he wanted nothing more  then to run away.

Her voice disrupted his self-tortured mind... "Have you figured out a way to get us out of here yet?" she asked.

"Not yet.  But I'm sure something will come to mind." he replied stiffly.

Allura could sense the apprehensive tone of his voice, as cold as the air in the cargo hold seemed to be.

She frowned slightly. "Keith... did...did I say or do something that offended you?"

Keith turned his head. A hurt look from Allura met his intense gaze, and his expression suddenly softened.  A smile broke over his face as a weak chuckle escaped his throat.

"No...nothing like that.  You're reading into me too much.  I'm just worried about how to get us out of here, that's all." he replied, attempting to hide himself away in the phrase.

"I'm so sorry that I've dragged you and the team into this." she sighed softly. "I know you had told me not to surrender to Lotor, and somehow, I can't help but think you blame me for our predicament right now."

"Princess...I..." Keith started to say, but Allura cut him off...

"I know I sometimes have trouble following orders.  But..I just couldn't stand there and allow you to die!  I had to do something!  The bark was all destroyed, and Lotor was willing to
bargain with the only remaining amount that was left in the universe.  I had no choice, Keith.  I had to give in to his demands.  I... I had to save you!  Don't you see?  Can't you understand?"

"Princess...I understand, but why..."

"Because I couldn't stand the thought
of losing you!  I lost you once when you
left Arus.  I wasn't going to allow Lotor
to take you away from me again.  So if
you're angry with me...then so be it. 
But I did what I thought was necessary. 
And you would have done the same
if it were me dying instead of you!"
Allura finished, not even realizing that
she had cut him off once again.


Keith looked at her, and saw tears
forming in her eyes.

"Oh great...now what do I do?" he thought.

"Keith, please...can you find
it in your heart to forgive me for
dragging you into this?" Allura asked sorrowfully.

"Princess...I'm not angry with you.  Quite the opposite...I'm very flattered that you would think that highly of me, that you would sacrifice yourself for my benefit." He replied.

"You've done the same for me on numerous occasions." Allura replied.  "Like the time when I ran away from the Castle, startled by a dream I had.  And Lotor cornered me...you had followed me into the forest, and stood firm against Lotor, allowing me time to escape.  You even suffered injury by the laser sword for me."

"I remember..." Keith smiled, rubbing his chest thoughtfully. "My only thought was to make sure you were safe." He then turned his body toward her. "And that's my only thought now, Allura.  To see to it that you're safely returned to your planet, to your people and to your home, where you belong.  And I'll make sure of it somehow."

"Oh Keith," Allura sighed, suddenly leaning her head up against his shoulder. "I don't deserve a friend such as you."

"Believe me Princess, I don't deserve you either." Keith replied quietly, realizing the phrase could be taken as a double meaning.

"Keith?"

"Hmmm..."

"Do you think there's more to our friendship then either of us realize?"

Keith pondered her statement. A small chuckle escaped him. "Perhaps there is, Princess."

She cuddled closer to him, wanting nothing more than to remain there forever.

She fondly thought of their ride together in the woods...before any of this had happened.  The time they enjoyed in each other's companythe thoughts they shared with each other.

The kiss on the cheek...

Then there were the walks through the Castle gardens after dinner... just the two of them.  Both of them full of conversation...yet not really speaking anything to each other.  Nothing of what was really in their hearts for each other.

And Allura was sure there was something there for her...some place in his heart had her name written on it.

If only he would allow her in...

"Princess, I think maybe you should go lie down for a while more.  We're going to have a busy day tomorrow.  Besides, I need to figure out how to get us out of here in one piece." Keith suggested.

She frowned, but didn't let him see it.  There he goes again, pushing her away from that most intimate part of his life.

"Keith...I'd...I'd like to stay up with you." She sighed.

"I know...and I'd like nothing more than to let you.  But you need your sleep, and I need to concentrate." he replied.

Allura sat up straight, nodding her head as if to agree, yet silently protesting.  Keith meantime, was fighting back the urge to sweep her into his arms and kiss her.  But his military training kept that feeling in check.

"Come on," Keith said as he rose to his feet. "I'll help you back to bed."

Keith rose to his feet, and then reached his hands out toward her, and she accepted them with hers, allowing him to pull her up to her feet.

He then turned and walked with her back to her bedding area.  She gingerly sat down in the blanket and grabbed the blanket, throwing it back around herself.  Keith leaned down and tucked the sides of the blanket around her.

"Okay...you're all tucked in.  Now, I'll be right over there...and I'll be watching over you, so don't worry." Keith said, pointing to the area she had found him at when she first woke up.

Allura nodded with a gentle smile. "Keith?"

"Yes?"

"Thanks..."

Keith smiled. "You're welcome, Princess."

"I mean...for risking your life for me," she clarified. "And for caring so much about me.  Other than my father or my guardians, I've never had anyone care for me as much as you do."

Keith smiled again, warmed to the heart by her words. "Good night, Princess."

She smiled again. "Good night, Keith."

Allura contently snuggled her head into her arm that was bent upward and acting like a pillow. She knew in her heart that she was safe with Keith nearby.

Keith stood back up, and began walking back over toward his lookout post.  As he resumed his seat, he glanced once again toward his Princess.  He thought about what she had just said to him...


"Other than my father or my guardians, I've never had anyone care for me as much as you do."


"Oh Princess...if only you knew who much I cared for you." Keith sighed gently at his thought, before turning back to resume watchdog mode. "If only you knew...and if only, I could tell you."


In her resting area, Allura smiled. 

Apparently Keith had forgotten that she could read his thoughts and sense his feelings.

She smiled at his thought...and kept it on her mind as she drifted once again to sleep.

He did care for her...and she now knew that.

It was just a matter of when he would admit it.  And for that moment, she'd wait forever.
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