"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 11
The Deadly Gift

Gem had returned from her walk with Lance a little over an hour ago.  Still carrying the box, she began to seriously reconsider whether or not to go through with he evil plan hatched up by Prince Lotor, despite Keith's feelings for the Princess of Arus.

As she tossed it around in her mind, a fly made its way around the inside of the Castle, suddenly finding a landing place near to where Gem sat, holding the box in her hand.


"What if I say...I lost it?" she thought out loud to herself. "Then, Lotor wouldn't be able to..."


"To do what... dearie?" the tiny voice echoed forth.

Gem jumped...suddenly startled by the sound. "Who's there?" she beckoned.

"Look down here..." the voice said.

She did. "A...winged creature...?" she replied, having never seen anything like it before.

"Things are not what they always seem!" the voice said once again.

The fly began to change suddenly, brightness enveloping its whole body.  Gem jumped up and away from it.  Then the body began to grow and take on the more human-like shape.

Suddenly, the glow ceased, leaving in its wake, Hagar the Witch.

Gem gasped as she sought to run for the old hag.  Hagar raised her globe wand, sending forth a beam of green light toward the girl, freezing her in her tracks.

Hagar then hovered over toward the frozen figure, until she was face to face with her.

"Prince Lotor thought you might change your mind about presenting Commander Keith with his little trinket.   So, he sent me to convince you to do the right thing by completing your mission." Hagar said.

Gem stood helpless before Hagar. "I... I just can't do it!" Gem replied. "I can't bear to hurt him!"

"Hmm-m-m, this presents a problem!   I am order to vaporize you on the spot if you don't comply.  But...I have an idea that might work for both of us." Hagar said.

"What idea?" Gem asked, not really sure if she wanted to hear it.

"You have seen that my powers can turn me into any shapeany size...  any form I desire.   I can change myself into you, and complete your mission for you." Hagar suggested. "This way, you will remain alive.   Of course, you'll be arrested for the death of Commander
Keith Hunter... but at least, you'll still live to see tomorrow.   And Lotor can still have his Princess!"

Gem gasped again. "I won't agree to it, Hagar!" she shouted at the hag. "Do what you want to me, but I'm not giving him the chain!  I won't betray him!"

"You humans are all alike...soft-hearted!   Well then, if you won't give it to me, I will!" Hagar hissed.

With a wave of her wand, Gem's body illuminated in light.  It began to loose its shape, twisting and shrinking, until she grew as small as an insect...

A fly, to be exact.

Gem was turned into a fly!

Hagar gloated at her achievement, as the fly buzzed around her head rapidly. "Oh now, don't you worry.  You'll return to your proper shape...once I've delivered the chain to Keith."

With another wave of her wand, Hagar's body began to shape and contort rapidly, like a changeling.  She suddenly took on the guise of Gem.   Hagar reached down and picked up the box that was dropped to the floor while Gem was being transformed into a fly.

"Well, goodbye now," Hagar said to the fly, sounding like Gem herself. "I must go now.  I have to meet with Keith.  If I were you, I'd stay away from public areas until the spell wears off.  You never know when someone might come up to you and spat you against the wall!"

Hagar suddenly broke into an evil young laugh, as she watched the fly hurry off down the hallway.

"Now...to find Keith, and get this over with!" Hagar hissed, as she caused her wand to disappear from sight.



Keith was in the lounge with Pidge and Hunk.  
He was telling them about the so-called 'party'
that Allura was throwing for him tomorrow night. 
He just couldn't believe how many people would
be attending. 

Hunk and Pidge giggled at their astonished Commander.

"So...just go and have a good time!"
Pidge replied, unsympathetic to
Keith's predicament.

"Yeah...wish I had something
like that being thrown for me!"
Hunk heckled. "I just hope she has
chocolate cake there!"

"Guys...you're really not appreciating my situation in the least, are
you?" Keith sighed.



"Are you kidding?" Pidge replied.
"You should be grateful that
she...uh...likes us so much...
that she's willing to do things for
us." Nearly slipping up, Pidge
tries to stress the 'us' factor, verses the 'you' factor. 

But everyone knew that Keith held her high in his mind and heart. And she likewise for him.

"Keith?"

Hunk, Pidge and Keith turned toward the door to find Gem standing there. Or at least... they saw Gem's form standing there.  There was no indication that this was Hagar.

"Hi Gem!" Keith replied enthusiastically. "What's on your mind?"

"May I see you a moment, Keith?" she asked.

Keith nodded. "Sure...be right there."

He turned to his friends. "Okay...don't go away.  I'll be right back."

As Keith stepped out, Hunk let out a loud sigh...  "Man, Lance is right."

"About what?" Pidge asked. 

"Keith's a 'chick-magnet'!" Hunk replied, with a slight soured tone of voice.

The 19-year-old pushed his glasses back up onto his face.  "Yep, got to admit it...they flock to him!"



Keith, meanwhile, had followed her out of the room, meeting the Gem-look alike just outside of the lounge.

"What's up, Gem?" Keith asked.

"I... I told you I had a present for you for your  birthday...and...well... here it is!" Hagar said, acting her part perfectly.

Hagar, in the guise of Gem, brought her hand out from behind her back, and extended to Keith a small gift box. "Go ahead...open it!"

"Gem, I...I can't accept this from you." Keith resisted.

Hagar became for insistent, and convincing. "Oh please, Keith!  I spent so much time looking for it.   Please...take it!   You have to take it!   You just can't say no!"

Feeling awkward, but not wanting to hurt her feelings, he accepted the box from her hand.

"Open it, Keith!" Hagar said with Gem's voice.

Keith looked at the box, then looked up at her.  After what seemed to be an eternity,  Keith finally returned his gaze back to the box, and opened it.  A small gasp escaped his lips as he looked inside.

"A golden chain?" he said, shocked by the gesture.

"For you, from me.  A sort of thank you, for saving my life."

"But, Gem. I don't need thanks.  You know that." Keith replied.

"I wanted to!" Hagar as Gem replied.

"Gem,' Keith said slowly. "This is...so expensive looking.  Where'd you get the money to buy it?"

"That's none of your business!" Hagar snapped, then remembered herself, and quickly recovered.. "That is...its impolite to ask someone how much a present costs.  Then its no longer a present, is it?"

Keith began staring at the chain as it sat inside the box. "Gem...I... I don't know.  This is so... inappropriate.  This is like something you give someone when there's feeling shared between
the two of them.  And I must be honest, Gem...I don't feel like that toward you."

"So...you're not going to wear it, Keith?" Hagar pressed further with guilt. "You're going to disappoint me again if you don't wear it."

"Gem...I..." Keith started.

"Please, Keith please put it on." Hagar pressed. "It's a friendship gift!  Please accept it!"

Keith hesitated for a moment.  Reaching up in the air, he started to shag a fly that was buzzing around his head.  The fly was in what appeared to be attack mode, zooming past him every few secondsdiving into his face, as if it were trying to gather his attention.

Hagar too, reached her hand in the air, attempting to swat the fly she knew was Gem.

Apparently, Gem was trying to distract Keith enough so that he wouldn't put on the chain.

With one quick motion, Hagar's hand connected with the fly, batting it out of the air and onto the floor nearby.

"If I knew where she went, I'd crush her!" Hagar thought silently, regarding where Gem the fly had landed.

With the fly situation gone, Hagar returned her attention to Keith.  "Please Keith...please?"

Keith sighed as he looked at the beautiful chain.  Reluctantly, he gave in. "Alright, Gem.  I'll wear it..."

He reached in to grab hold of it.  Using his fingers on his left hand to juggle chain free from the box, he then tipped the box over, catching the falling necklace with his right hand.  Dropping the box to the ground, Keith then managed to slip the necklace over his head.

"There!" Hagar giggled sweetly. "It looks wonderful on you!  It's a special necklace.  If you wear it, as close to your heart as possible, you will be granted special peace and rest.  It's an old wives' tale I heard from the village I bought it from.  But... if it brings you peace...why not try it?"

"Okay..." Keith sighed, as he grabbed the necklace and tucked it down his shirt, so that it was now lying directly on the skin of his chest. He looked at Gem. "Thank you very much. It's a beautiful gift.  One that I'm sure I'll treasure for some time."

"I'm sure you'll find that you will become attached to it soon." she added.

Keith looked behind him into the lounge. "Uh, I... uh...I hate to do this, but I have to get back in there."

Hagar nodded. "Oh... sure I understand.  You're a busy man.  I guess that's how it is with commanders.  Oh, by the way...I'm afraid I'll have to cancel our morning outing tomorrow."

"Oh?" Keith said. "Why's that?"

"Well, I figured with everything going on with your birthday tomorrow, you don't need the added stress of meeting me for brunch.  After all, we'll see each other at the party." Hagar said convincingly.

"Well, it would make things a lot easier..." Keith agreed.

"So, it's settled. I'll see you at your party tomorrow." Hagar stated.

"Sure!  Heythanks for the gift Gem!  And thanks for understanding." Keith said.

"Oh, no problem!  Every time you wear the necklace, just make sure you think of me." Hagar said, trying to seal the deal of wearing it for maximum exposure to the poison.

"I'm sure I will." Keith said with a friendly smile. He then turned and walked back into the lounge.

"I'm sure you will too...fool!" Hagar hissed to herself.

She then turned and walked down the hallway.




"What did she want?" Pidge asked Keith as he walked back into the room.

Keith walked up to his friends.  He had a bewildered look on his face. "She wanted to give me a birthday present."

"What did she get you?" Hunk asked eagerly.

"A golden chain." Keith answered, as he pulled down his shirt collar, and reaching inside, grabbing the chain. "See?" he said, showing his friends the gift he'd received.

"Whoa, that looks expensive!" Pidge replied, gawking at the present with his eyes.

"Yeah," Hunk said, reaching out to grab it, but before being able to do so, felt a semi-hard smack on the hand from Pidge. "Hey Pidge-O!" Hunk shouted. "What's the big idea?"

"Don't put your grubby hands on it!" Pidge scolded. "It belongs to Keith!"

Keith chuckled at his friends, as he tucked the chain back beneath his shirt. "I feel pretty weird though, accepting it from her.  I hardly know her."

"Yeah, and don't let Lance find out about it," Pidge said plainly. "He's got a thing for her. They were out walking in the garden while you and the Princess were out riding."

"Really?" Keith perked up suddenly. "Well, maybe that's why she canceled her brunch date with me tomorrow morning."

"Possibly," Pidge said. "She could have switched allegiance to Lance now."

"That's great!" Keith said, nearly shouting with excitement. "I'm glad!  I'm just not interested in her in the way she had hoped.   If she's taken a liking to Lance, I'm glad for them both!   She a nice girl... just not my type."

"Who is?" Hunk chuckled. "I haven't seen you hitting the dating scene lately."

"That's because his eyes are fixed on something else... a beautiful blonde-haired princess, perhaps?" Pidge dared to say.

Keith only smirked. "Keep it up guys, and you'll be doing double practice shifts by yourselves tomorrow!"

Hunk and Pidge perked up suddenly. "Do you mean to say, that we're not having Lion practice in the morning?" Hunk said, a hit of excitement in his voice.

"Yes...that's what I mean. I'm canceling it tomorrow only...in honor of my birthday." Keith replied. "I plan on sleeping in."

"Excellent!" shouted Pidge as he reached over and high-fived Hunk on the hand. "I plan on doing the same!"

"I plan on getting up early, eating breakfast, and then going back to bed!" Hunk added.

"HUNK!" Keith and Pidge shouted.

"Well, who can sleep soundly on an empty stomach?" Hunk said.

Keith flung his hand in front of himself. "You're impossible." He said to his lieutenant.

"Maybe so, but I'll survive any fast I'm forced to be onso long as its not for more than a day!" Hunk joked.

Amused by the response, Keith chuckled and then announced he was leaving for his room.

"Okay guys.  I'll see you at dinner.  The Princess will probably not be dining with us this evening.  She has a lot to do for this 'party' she has going for me tomorrow."

"Relax and enjoy yourself, Keith." Pidge advised.

"Yeah, whatever..." Keith replied as he turned to leave. "See you guys later."

As Keith left the lounge area, he impulsively placed his hand to his chest, to feel the chain that was hanging there beneath his shirt.   He sighed quietly...hoping that Lance and Gem did finally hit it off together.

It would be good for Lance to find someone.  He had been worried about his best friend's love life.  Lance chased girls constantly, but never was able to find a serious relationship since he had returned to Arus.

But now... it sounded very promising for his friend.  And a relief to himself...for without Gem hounding him all of the time, he could concentrate on his feelings for Allura and sort through them.

But for now...he was feeling tired suddenly, and had a great desire to lie down for an afternoon nap before dinner.   He needed to get all the rest he could.  Tomorrow would prove to be a taxing day for him.

"Who said birthdays are supposed to be fun?" Keith thought. "Must have been a lunatic."

The chain was beginning to work its evil...

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