"Where Have All The Children Gone?"

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 21
Reality Is...

Several hours had passed since the evil forces of Doom were vanquished from Planet Arus.

The Blue lion's head had been returned to its body, and the five lions returned to their resting-places.

The men of Voltron waited anxiously with Coran outside the infirmary surgical area.  Dr. Gorma gave no indication, one way or the other, as to what Princess Allura's condition was... only to say that they should hope that there was... no brain damage.

Keith sat in the chair closest to the door, his fingers intertwining with one another and his elbows resting on his knees.

Lance was pacing, Hunk was eating nervously, and Pidge sat quietly in the corner.

Keith finally looked up to Lance. "Will you sit down?  You're making me crazy...pacing like that back and forth!"

"It gives me something to do..." Lance replied nervously. "It's been two hours!  What the heck are they doing in there?"

Coran sighed gently. "I am sure
that Dr. Gorma and his team of
experts are doing all that they
can for our Princess. All we can do
is wait."

"Yeah, but its taking so long!" Lance shouted. "They do know that coffee breaks are cancelled when it comes to her care, right?"

"Can't you be serious for just one moment?"
Pidge barked. "How can
you joke at a time like this?"

"Who's joking?" Lance bit back.
"I'm serious, here!"

"Okay guys...settle down." Keith replied tiredly. "This isn't helping matters any.  Just do... whatever it is that will make you feel better."

Suddenly the door swung open, revealing Dr. Gorma, who was removing his surgical mask from his face.  Everyone rose to their feet and quickly huddled around Gorma.

"How is she, doc?"
Keith asked anxiously.

"She's experienced a mild
skull fracture, and some
external bleeding."

"Some bleeding???" Lance's voice
bolstered aloud suddenly.
"Dr. Gorma, I'm no doctor, but... she was bleeding more than 'some'!  She had a good amount of blood soaking her hair..."

"I know it appeared to be a lot of blood, but in truth, she didn't lose very much.  There are no life-threatening injuries, and it appears that she has suffered no brain trauma.  I put a few laser
stitches in her head, washed her up a bit and now she's resting quietly under sedation.  Her words to me when she regained consciousness were if you men and the people Arus were all okay."

"So...she did regained consciousness?" Keith asked. "And you're sure she suffered no brain damage?"

Gorma sighed, "Thankfully, there is none.  Her speech is fine and she's aware and alert.  All the tests that I've run have come back negative for brain injury.  She's a lucky young woman, our Princess..."

"So then, she will recover?" Coran asked the doctor.

"Yes...a full recovery!  She'll be back on her feet in a day or two." Gorma happily reported. "Now...if you'll excuse me?"

"Uh... wait a minute, Dr. Gorma!" Keith suddenly blurted out. "Can... can we see her?"

"I don't think she's ready for a room full of people just yet.  Besides...she's asleep from the medication." Gorma replied. "I doubt she would even hear you."

"So then, it should be no problem if we all go in for a little bit." Lance began insisting. "After all, you just said she was out like a light from the meds..."

"All in all, I don't want too much activity in there." Dr. Gorma told them all. "Even though she will make a full recovery, she needs all of her strength now for her body to mend from this injury.  My answer is still no for right now.  But perhaps by tomorrow, she'll be well enough to
receive visitors"

"Then how about just letting Keith go?" Lance asked.

Keith shook his head. "If anyone should go, it should be Coran."

Coran stepped forward to Dr. Gorma. "Would it be possible to allow the Commander to see her...for a short time?"

Gorma thought about it, and gave his approval before walking away to attend to other people.

Keith turned to Coran. "You should be going in there to see her... not me."

"Commander...if there is one thing that I have learned in my meager existence...it is that sometimes you must step aside and allow nature to take its course.  She needs you there... not me, Commander." Coran replied. "My place as her comforter has ended.  It is now your turn
to step into that position.  Now go... and comfort her for all of us."

Keith blinked several times at Coran.
"I don't understand what you
mean, Coran?"

Coran laid his hand on Keith's shoulder.
"Perhaps someday you will.  For now, you
need to be with her, and she needs you there...
above any of us. She respects you, Commander.
She cherishes your friendship deeply. She needs
to know that her best friend is with her now at
this critical time of recovery. I beg you, Keith...go to her!"

Keith nodded his head slowly, his face blankly staring at Coran's.

"Is...is he giving me permission to see her?  Not just to see her now... but to court her?" Keith thought quietly, which he studied Coran's expression.

Hunk and Pidge came up along side of Keith, patting him on the back, and asking him to convey get well messages to the Princess.  Coran smiled and left the infirmary along with Hunk and Pidge.

Only Lance had remained behind.

"Well," Lance began. "It must be nice to receive approval to date the Princess from her top advisor!"

"What you talking about, Lance?"  Keith asked him. "I'm going in there to encourage her...as my friend."

"Sure...if that's what you want to believe...then go ahead.  But you and I both know that she means more to you then that!  She's not just your friend anymore, Keith.  Is she?" Lance prodded.

Keith's eyes suddenly locked with Lance's. Lance smiled, "I'm right... I can tell I'm right.  But I understand if you're not ready to admit reality yet.  It's there...just don't wait too long to tell
her.  Some handsome prince could come around someday and snatch her from you...before you even get a chance to tell her..." Lance told him.

"Tell her what?" Keith blurted out.

"Tell her what you're standing
there denying to me and to yourself...
that you love her!  It's okay, amigo!
You can love her!  She's a princess,
but she's a woman first of all.  And I
know she loves you too.  I can tell..."
Lance smiled, puffing himself up.

"Oh, you can, huh?" Keith smirked.

"Yep...sure can!  Just open your eyes.
And take off the military hat for a while...and you'd see it too.  It's as clear as the blue sky." Lance looked down at his watch. "Go on...get in there!  I'm going to challenge Pidge and Hunk to a round of vid screen games in the lounge.  Just tell her that I'm glad she's going to be okay."

Keith smiled and patted Lance on the back. "You're a good friend, Lance. A bit nosey...but a good friend. Thanks."

"Hey...what are friends for?" Lance winked. "Now get in there and talk to your lady friend. Oh,,,and by the way... I'm the best man in the wedding, right?"

Keith jokingly balled his fist, and brought it up to Lance's nose. "You're pushing it now...

Lance smiled, turned and hurriedly left Keith in the waiting room.  He sighed nervously as he turned back to the door.  He stood there and stared at it.  On the other side of it, was the recovery area where Allura was resting peacefully.  He mustered up all of his courage and
approached the door...

He stood there nervously and stared at it instead...

He would have much rather faced
another Robeast, or Lotor himself
right now. Suddenly, seeing her after
hearing what Lance said to him
made him extremely nervous.  He had
contemplated a serious courting
relationship with her...but his own
fears were stopping him.

Being her champion was one thing...
being her love...well, that was
another thing altogether.

She is a princess.
She is of royal birth.
She rules an entire planet.

What was he?  An orphan boy at age 13...and now, a miserable, pitiful pilot from Earth with starry dreams that he had been having since his younger teen days.  Dreams that someone was calling for him to come to her...someone not from Earth.

Keith recalled the many nights he had been awakened out of deep sleep in the dead of night...
ever since he was almost 14 years old.  It was the same reoccurring dream...someone calling to him from a far off place...beckoning him to come to find her and to help her.

He knew it was a female calling, but the voice was never clearly defined.  But he knew it was female, nevertheless.  He would have the dream every now and then as he went through his academy days.

When he graduated from the Space Academy, and received his first space assignment to assist the Princess of Planet Arus against their struggle with the Drule empire rejects of Planet Doom, and subsequently after he had met Princess Allura... the dreams suddenly stopped.

He could never make out what that meant.  Was it because it was an inner struggle with himself to reach out to points beyond Earth's boundary that had now been fulfilled?

Or was it... because he had finally found the owner of the female voice that had been calling to him in his dreams for all those long years?

And when he finally admitted to Allura that he had been hearing her calling to him for several years, he suddenly felt...a kindred bond with her. 

It was nothing more than a voice, calling for help.  That's what he's told himself for years.

On second thought...perhaps it was specifically directed at him...for a specific reason.  Perhaps she meant to reach out to him specifically.... 

He was afraid to admit the second thought to himself.  That it was Allura's heart calling for him... and to him alone. 

It would have been right about the time that she started experiencing as a ruler, the horror of war and destruction.  She had once told him that she first faced Zarkon's evil when she was 12 years old.

Two years separate their age.  That would have been about the right time when the dreams had started for him.

He drew in a deep breath and held it for a few moments before slowly relieving his lungs and releasing the stale air.

Keith walked forward and knocked at the door for admittance.  The attending nurse opened it and saw the Commander of Voltron standing there.  Keith explained that he had permission from Dr. Gorma to visit with the Princess for a while.

The nurse smiled, "Yes, Commander Hunter.  He told us to expect you.  I should warn you that Her Royal Highness is still unconscious but she is resting peacefully on her side.  You can go in for a bit.  Follow me please."

Keith nodded and followed the young nurse down the hallway into a secluded area of the infirmary.  She pointed to a drawn curtain. "She's behind there.  You can pull up one of the chairs to sit beside her, if you'd like."

"Thanks..." Keith smiled as he watched the nurse leave him.

He walked carefully toward the curtain.  With another quick intake of breath, he drew the curtain back...

The sight of her took his breath away...

Allura was soundly asleep on her right side.  Her beautiful blue eyes were peacefully closed, and a nearby monitor revealed that her heart rate was normal.  Keith grabbed a chair that was just to the left of him, and carried it to her bedside.

Keith gently set the chair down near the head of the bed.  He looked up at the top of her head, checking the injury for himself.  Satisfied with the repair job done, he sat down quietly next to her.

At first...he quietly sat...saying and doing nothing.  Just staring at her.

She was beautiful...so vulnerable...so precious.  She is as radiant as an angel from heaven.

She was his angel...

"Allura," he began with a whisper. "I don't know if you can hear me or not...but... I want you to know that I...I love you.  I've been in love with you ever since the first time I saw you standing at the bottom of the old stairway in the old castle.  You were a vision of loveliness and you still are.  I don't know if anything will ever work out between us...or if I'll even have enough courage to tell you all of this when you're awake and alert.  But I want your heart to know how I really feel about you."

Keith reached up his hand and gently caressed her cheek with his fingers.

Her skin was soft as silk.  He thanked God that she was still alive for him to admire her.  To think that Lotor had almost gotten his hands on Arus...

It was too close this time.

Determining that this would never happen again, he resigned himself to weigh things more carefully, and not allow himself to be swayed by her impulsiveness again.  He knew in his very being that this tradition thing would be trouble, but he allowed his guard to fall, convincing
himself that everything would be okay.

Because of his carelessness, he almost lost Allura to Lotor.  He'd have killed himself first then let that happen.

"I promise to be more careful looking out for you, Princess," he told her as his finger gently traced the curves of her face. "But you have to be more selective in the things you do with and for your people.  What happened was too close for comfort.  We almost lost Arus and you. I can't let that happen again, Princess."

He suddenly retracted his hand from her cheek as she stirred awake.  Her eyes began moving back and forth behind her eyelids.  Keith leaned forward into her ear...

"Princess... can you hear me?  Allura...its me...its Keith.  I'm here, Allura."

She slowly opened her eyes...slits at first... then blinked to open them a bit wider.  Her first sight was Keith's face, and the smile that beamed across it.

Keith spoke again...

"Allura...its me.  Can you hear me?"

Allura slowly drew in a breath of air to speak...

"Keith... it...it is you. Did we... Lotor... where is he?"

"Shhh... its alright, Princess.  Lotor is gone and Arus is safe once again.  The children are back home with their families, and the lions have been returned to their dens.  Do you remember anything that happened?" Keith asked her.

"I...I think... I last remember...my head!" She suddenly reached up and gently ran her hand across the top of her forehead. "I felt this incredible pain... I was tossed from the chair when the Robeast struck my lion!  I hit the wall...and...that's all I remember."

"You have a nice size lump on your head and a mending cut on your forehead, Princess.  The inside of your lion helmet was dented from the impact.  If you hadn't had your helmet on...you'd be dead." Keith said soberly.

"Oh my..." she whispered weakly.

"Coran and the guys wish you well; hoping you feel better soon." He said.

"How did you get in?" Allura weakly yawned out. "I thought surely that Dr. Gorma would give you a problem seeing me."

"Coran talked him into it." he replied.

"Coran did?" she said tiredly.

"Yeah, and he asked me to come to you.  I wanted to, Allura.  I wanted to make sure you were okay." Keith replied. "I feel better now that I've talked to you.  You know, you were strong today against Lotor.  I've never seen you stronger then I have today.  You really showed

"I should have listened to you and Coran, Keith.  If I did, none of this would have happened. I was a fool..." Allura said.

"No...you're kind and tender-hearted.
You can't be condemned for having
such a wonderful spirit of love in your
heart.  It was that love that reached
out to the village of Capri... just like your
father had."

"Oh, Keith..." she sighed.
"That's very kind of you to say."

Keith reached over and took her hand in his. "You know, once you get better, I have a promise that I intend to keep to you."

Recollection hit her, and she smiled. "Keith...you don't have to do that.  I know it was just talk..."

"It wasn't just talk, Princess!  I really intend to ask you out on a date!  That is unless, you'd rather not..."

"No!  Of course I do!  I would be honored to be escorted by you to dinner!" Allura said brightly.

"Good...we'll talk about it more when you're well again.  I'm going to leave now and let you get some rest." Keith smiled, giving her hand a squeeze.

"No please..." Allura tugged at his hand. "Please Keith...can you stay for a little longer...just until I fall back to sleep once again?"

Keith smiled. "Of course I'll stay..."

She smiled at him, and something in his heart melted...

The dream was becoming a reality...at last.

But...was it a reality that Keith could tolerate?

Being Allura's suitor would mean restrictions of his freedom, and quite possibly....he may be required to step down as Voltron's Commander... a position he grew quite attached to.  Reality certainly required a lot of thinking.

But for now...Keith rested in the fact that she was okay...and that she wanted him to stay with her.

At least she did...in this reality.