"A Christmas to Remember"

Copyright 2002
Adele Previte

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 Eleven
What Christmas Really Means

Standing at the window of the log cabin, Keith stared out into the blackness of the night. Thankful that the Princess was safely back at the Castle, Keith had allowed his emotions to get the better of him...  and his eyes welled up with tears.

It was enough of a Christmas present, to know that she was safe...  especially on Christmas Eve.

From behind him, a scruffy male voice echoed from the direction of the fireplace.

"Christmas has always been a disappointing time for you, Commander.  Hasn't it?"

Keith took the back of his hand and wiped the tears from his eyes, as he turned to face Gabe. "How do you know so much about me?" Keith replied in a curious voice. "I don't know you...and yet, you seem to be able to pinpoint details of my life..."

Gabe smiled. "Come...sit by the fire, Keith." was his response.

Keith paused, hesitatingly. But then, finally made his way back to the chair he had been sitting in before.  The Princess's gift was on the seat cushion, and Keith picked it up before he sat back down once again.

Holding the present in his hand, Keith began to intensely stare at it,  as the thought of Gabe's sentence of revelation repeated itself over and over in his mind.

Gabe saw that the young Voltron Commander was deep in thought.  He smiled once again.

"I know it's been difficult...this time of the year, for you." Gabe said once again. "I can sense it in you.  You're relieved that the Princess is safe."

Keith looked up at Gabe, meeting his gentle stare with an intense one of his own. "Do you have some sort of mind-probing ability?  How is it, that you seem to be able to tell me things about me...things that few people know about?"

"I'm right, then. Aren't I?" Gabe replied back, still smiling. "For you, Christmas has always been a hard time."

"Something like that." Keith replied. "But that's in the past now."

"Is it, Keith?" Gabe braved to say. "You're reliving something of it, right now, being separated from the friends you love more than anything else in the world."

Keith shook his head... "Look, I know you mean well.  But, I'd rather not travel down this road again, so if you don't mind...let's just drop it..."

"Your parents...they were lost at this time of the year." Gabe said suddenly, as if not hearing anything Keith had said to him.

"My parents?" Keith replied, as if he had been slapped. "What do you know about my parents?"

"I know that you were informed on a frigid Christmas Eve night...much like this one...that they had disappeared without a trace, in space."

"Please," Keith moaned. "I don't want to talk about it."

"As I recall, you didn't have too many merry Christmases as a child." Gabe continued.

"As you recall?" Keith replied, somewhat baffled by the older man's statement.

"Your parents were always out on missions, leaving you to the care of relatives or friends. Many times, Christmas Day was just another day for you.  The comfort of family was something you seldom saw as a child." Gabe added.

Keith began getting upset now. "I've had just about enough of 'walking down memory lane', Gabe!  I think you're overstepping your bounds!  I never asked you to probe my mind! I never invited you to analyze who I am, and what happened in my life that made me who I am today! I am who I am, because I made myself that way!  Yes... things were rough for me, but when it was my turn at bat, I stepped up to the plate and swung at the ball!  And maybe I did have a hard childhood. But being alone as a kid has made me stronger for it as an adult!"

"Oh, Keith," Gabe replied with a smile. "You were never alone...as much as you might have thought you were. God was with you all of the time!  He was with you, when you were told that your parents were gone.  He was with you, during the memorial service for them, when you stood quietly, straight and tall, at Marshall Graham's side, listening to all of the honors that were recited for you, in memory of your parents.  Why, he was even with you, out there, tonight! He sent me to find you...and now...here we are!"

Keith glared at the man as if he were insane. "Can we drop this?  You're beginning to scare me..."

"And now," Gabe said, once again, ignoring Keith's statement. "You're afraid to give your heart completely to the Princess...afraid that she too, might disappear one day, leaving you hurt and alone once again.  Much like how you're feeling right now...all alone on Christmas Eve...once again, just as before."

"Gabe..." Keith said slowly. "What my feelings are for the Princess, or anyone else, are no one's concern but my own. Whatever reservations I may or may not have regarding her or anyone else, are mine to work out."

"She's not going anywhere, Keith." Gabe replied. "You can be free to love her!"

"Gabe...please!" Keith said an elevated voice. "That's enough!"

"Alright, alright!" Gabe replied back. "Just remember...life is full of risks...not just the physical kind. But the emotional kind as well.   You want to know why you throw yourself into harm's way for your friends?  It's because if you die while doing so, it's a better fate, in your
eyes, than to stand by and do nothing to save them, to feel helpless, as you felt when your parents had disappeared. You were too young to venture out after them. But you'd do that now, for any one of your team.  And yet, you reprimand them for doing the exact same thing for you.  And you want to know why you do that? Because you'd much rather punish
yourself then them.  Isn't that right, Commander?"

Keith returned his gaze back to the box he had been holding in his hand...and sighed aloud.

"Keith...open yourself up to your friends. Let them see the softer side of you once in a while." Gabe replied. "It'll do your heart some good, and it'll help to start the much needed healing process in your life."

"Gabe, I'm their commander. I can't be one of them. I have to be above that!  I... I can't afford to let my guard down...not even for a moment... or they'll walk all over me!" Keith replied.

"You don't really believe that." Gabe said.

"I DO believe that!" Keith said in a raised voice.

"You know that your friends respect you and love you for who you are.  They didn't come out tonight in this awful weather, to look for their commander. They came, looking for their friend." Gabe replied. "You are their friend, Keith.   And they are your friends too."

Keith looked up at the man sitting just across from him. The glow from the fireplace was reflecting off of him, detailing his facial features.

The Voltron Commander could see that the man was sincere.

"Who...who are you?" Keith asked, bewildered suddenly. "How do you know so much about me, and I've never met you?"

"You know who I am," the older man replied softly. "You just don't remember who I am."

Keith tilted his head in a moment of confusion. "Well, you don't look like my father," he chuckled suddenly. "So, I guess this isn't a movie with a happy ending....you know, long lost son finds his dad, and so on..."

Gabe laughed out loud. "No, I'm not your father, Keith. I'm... a friend."

"A friend,' Keith replied with a half smile on his face. "A friend, who sees me for who I am, is that it? And I supposedly know who you are, and yet, I don't know you at all..."

"Then, let's just say... I'm the friend that you needed, tonight."  Gabe replied simply. "That's all you need to know."

Keith sighed again, shaking his head, then glanced at the window once again.  The wind was still howling and the snow was still flying with a raging force.

Gabe nodded his head, realizing that whatever more could be said, would now fall on deaf ears. Keith's mind was shutting him down... he could feel the young Commander's thoughts... and his heart only yearned for the comfort of his friends back at the Castle.  One very special
friend in particular.  One that he would not see tonight.

Then, Gabe glanced at his clock just over the fireplace. "You'd better get some sleep now, young fella. You've got a decent trek back to the Castle tomorrow."

Keith nodded his head in agreement, feeling suddenly worn out.  Gabe got up and walked over to a doorway nearby to the fireplace. "Your room is here," he said, pointing to the door he now stood in front of.

"Thank you." Keith said with a smile on his face.

"And Keith," Gabe said lastly, as he turned to enter another room nearby.  "Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas to you, Gabe." Keith said warmly. "And...uh...for what its worth... thanks... thanks for everything."

"You're welcome, Commander." Gabe replied warmly in return.

He turned and entered his room, only a few doors down from Keith's.  The door closed with a muffled 'click' sound.

Once the room was quiet, the only sound was the crackling of the roaring fire. Keith glanced up at the clock over the fireplace...9:15pm.

Seemed like it should have been later....

He rose to his feet, and walked over to the window, deciding to take a peek outside.  The storm was raging on...snow flying with a greater intensity then before.  He cleared his mind for a moment, and called out to Allura...

"Princess? Princess...its Keith. Can you hear me? Allura...come in... please, come in..."

Suddenly, her voice resounded in his mind, clear and sweet. "Keith!  Oh Keith!  I'm so glad to hear from you!"

"Are you okay, now?"

"Fine. Lance and Pidge are transporting the children home in the lions, back to the village of Candor.  The trip is not far, thank goodness.  It's very bad outside. I wish you were back safely in the Castle...with all of us. We miss you."

"Yeah, I wish I had enough sense to leave earlier for home.  Then I wouldn't be in this mess to begin with.  That was really stupid of me..."

"You mustn't blame yourself, Keith! There was no way to know how bad this storm was going to be. I'm just glad that you found some place warm and safe to stay."

"I'm fine, Allura." Keith thought to her. "But I wish I were with all of you, now."

"I'm very glad someone kind-hearted is seeing to your needs..."  Allura responded. "What was his name again?"

"His name is Gabe, and he's taken good care of me. I've lacked for nothing, he's made me feel right at home."

"I should like to meet him, Keith, to thank him for his generosity toward you."

"I'm sure he'd like that, Allura.  He's a strange older man. He lives out in the woods, just beyond the main road to the Castle.  He seems to lack for nothing...but...I don't know, maybe we can find something nice to do for him, in gratitude for his kindness to me."

"I think that can be arranged, Keith."

Silence fell between them both...

"I wish you were here with us, Keith."

"I wish I were too, Allura."

"I...I miss you. Its Christmas Eve...and...and we're apart from you."

"Yeah...but not out of touch of each other."

"Still, its not the same, is it?"

"No...that it's not." Keith agreed.

"Oh Keith...I wish there would have been some way to get you, and to bring you home tonight! No one should be alone on Christmas Eve!"

"I'm not alone... I never have been."

Keith reflected on what Gabe had said earlier. Looking back on his life, he truly was never alone. He smiled at the thought, that even with miles between them, he could communicate with the one woman he would like to dream, could someday be his wife.

But...if that were to happen, it would happen without him worrying about it.

"What are you doing now, Princess?" he asked her in thought.

"I'm looking out the window...wondering what you're doing right now."

"Pick a snowflake...anyone will do!"

"Pick a...snowflake?" she asked him. "What in the world for?"

"Just do it, Allura!"

Moments later, she replied to him. "Okay, I've picked it.  It's sailing gently past my window's view."

"I've got one too.  Now...you and I are connected by a single act.  We're both looking at snowflakes as they fall to the ground, and talking to each other in thought.  You see, Allura? We are together!  We're both doing the same thing, at the same time, and talking to each other while we're doing it. Just as if I were there right now, right beside you."

"Oh Keith,"

Keith could hear the smile in her echoed voice in his mind.  He could also hear the tears, that he was sure were welling up in her eyes...much as they were in his own.

"Merry Christmas, Allura."

"Merry Christmas, Keith."

The snow continued to come down from the sky.  But despite the storm's fury, the undefined love of two people, stretched beyond winter's ability to part them...and instead, united them in thought, on this most holy of nights.


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