"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 Six
The Lonely Log Cabin in the Woods

Keith pushed himself to keep up with the older man, as the two of them walked side by side together through the snowy terrain.

The Voltron Commander shivered as the wind bit at his ears and face, all while silently cursing himself for not having the sense to take a hat along for his trip out today.

But then again, he never expected to be caught in such a bad storm, as this was turning out to be.

The older man looked back a few times toward Keith, making sure he was still keeping up with him.

Suddenly, the Voltron Commander lost his footing and fell to the ground on hands and knees. It was the strong arm of the older man that came to Keith's aid.

"Come on!" the man shouted over the blustering sound of the wind.  "Give me your hand!"

Keith looked up at the man, and then brought up his left hand to him.  The older man pulled Keith to his feet, holding on to him until he could steady himself.

The older man nudged Keith in the side gently...  "Come on! Look, my cabin's in sight! You can make it!   Come on now!"

Keith began to squint, and through the blinding snowfall, his eyes saw the cabin the man spoke of.

The man began pulling on Keith.  The older man could tell that Keith's reflexes were starting to slow down, and it wouldn't be long before he would be unable to walk any longer under his own power.

Keith blindly obeyed the impulse to walk forward with the man.  He was weakening quickly, both from the cold and the concussion.  He was also hungry too realizing that the last time he ate was nearly seven hours ago at one of the villages he had stop at to look for a present for
the Princess...

The Princess...

The present!

Keith quickly reached into his right pocket...

He sighed a cold breath of relief that he hadn't lost the heart crystal that he had picked up for Allura's Christmas present.

And just as suddenly as the sigh of relief came over him, a wave of regret had followed.  He realized in moment's time, that he would not be able to present it to her tonight when the rest of the team opened up presents at midnight.

He wouldn't be there to witness the joy of that moment.   Instead, he'd be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, with no way to even let the Castle know that he was safe for the night.

Then a further regret hit him suddenly...

Allura would be sick with worry as to what happened to him...as would his other friends.

Keith suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, and the older man halted too, turning behind and throwing Keith a puzzled look...

"What's the matter?" the man asked Keith.

Keith's jet-black hair was covered with white snow, as was his coat and pants.  He shook his head slowly as he gazed at the older man...

"I...I've got to find my friends!" Keith shouted at him. "They're going to be worried!"

"You can't go back now!" the man replied. "You'll freeze to death!"

"I have to try!" Keith shouted.

The older man approached Keith rapidly. "You're being foolish, Commander Keith."

Keith suddenly looked at the man with wide eyes.  "Hey, how do you know who I am?" Keith shouted, to be heard through the wind. "I never told you who I was!"

"No, but you were in one of the Castle of Lions hover cars, so it stands to reason that I can guess who you are!" the man shouted back.  "Now, come on!  Before we both freeze out here!"

"My friends..." Keith said regretfully. "I know they've got to be worried about me!  I've no way to contact them!  They'll find the damaged car, but they won't find me!  There's got to be a way for me to stay in sight, for them to find me!"

"There's no way, short of freezing to death!" the man shouted as the wind howled.

"But...its Christmas Eve!" Keith countered.  "What kind of celebration are they going to have, if I'm missing and unaccounted for?"

"They'll be fine." The man replied, now tugging at Keith once again. "How anguished would they be if they found you face down in the snow, frozen to death, verses showing up tomorrow unexpectedly... but safe and sound?"

Keith paused at the wisdom in the words. "Point taken," he shouted, while nodding his head.

"Alright then," the man shouted. "Let's get inside and get you something warm to wear and something hot to eat!"

The two of them walked on toward the log cabin, standing in the distance.

The steps were getting hard to take for Keith, as his breathing became labored.  Once again, the older man hooked on to Keith's arm, adding strength to his already weakened body.

It wasn't long before they had finally made it to the front door of the little cabin.  The man opened the door and pulled Keith inside the cabin with him, quickly closing the door behind them both.

The warmth of the air quickly met Keith's face, and the snow that had accumulated on his head and body, began to melt rapidly. But now, the Voltron Commander began shaking, almost violently, from the cold.

The man left the room for a moment, then immediately walked up to Keith, carrying an arm full of fresh, dry clothes for him to wear.

"Here," the man said, as he handed Keith the bundle of clothing. "Put these on for now. We'll hang your wet coat and clothes by the fire to dry."

With teeth chattering rapidly together, Keith nodded his head and immediately discarded his coat, letting it drop to the floor.  He went to pick it up...

"Leave it!" the man said with a smile. "I'll get it for you.  You just change, before you catch your death of cold!"

Keith nodded his head and accepted the dry clothes, and then proceeded to the bathroom that the older man pointed out to him.



Minutes later, the Voltron Commander re-entered the room once again, dry and looking very tired.  He walked over and sat down on a chair by the fire to warm up further

Suddenly...he leaped up from his chair and grabbed for his sopping wet coat.  He began rummaging through the pocket where the gift for the Princess was hidden.  He gasped...

Where is it?

It suddenly wasn't where Keith had last remembered it to be...

Then...it hit him. He recalled he fell in the snow, not far from the cabin.

Perhaps he dropped it out there...

"Are you looking for this?"

Keith whirled around quickly, somewhat startled, and found the older man standing right behind him.

In his hand, he held the small, store-wrapped box that contained the heart crystal inside.

"I found this in your coat, so I took it out. I didn't want it to be damaged." The man said to Keith.  "It will make a lovely present."

Keith smiled, somewhat hesitantly, and reached for the box.  The older man relinquished it to Keith almost immediately.

After grabbing onto the box, Keith looked up once again, studying his 'gracious' host.

The older man had long graying hair. He had a long shaped face, and the graying beard that had grown on it appeared to be somewhat well  kept. He was dressed in a red shirt and somewhat ragged looking  black pants.

He was a rather ordinary looking woodsman...as woodsman  go.

"Why don't you have a seat by the fire," the man said with a smile.  "I have some hot soup cooking there.  I'll get you a bowl.  It'll warm you up from the inside, out."

"Thanks," Keith replied. "I could use it."

The man walked over to the fire and grabbed a bowl that was sitting nearby.  He then grabbed the ladle and reached into the pot that was hanging over the fire, and began to scoop out some of the precious contents out of the pot.

He then turned and handed the piping hot bowl of soup to Keith, as he sat in the chair.  Keith accepted the bowl of soup that was held up to him.

He sniffed the soup...

"Wow!" Keith exclaimed. "This smells really good!"

"Oh, it is really good!" the man replied.  "It's a recipe I got from a very close friend."

Keith carefully blew on the soup he had scooped onto the spoon, and thensipped it carefully.

"This is good!" Keith said, rolling his eyes with delight at the tasty treat.

Several minutes of silence went by as Keith sat, eating the soup, and the older man sat, watching Keith eat.  The Commander finally looked at the man...

"I want to thank you for all your help tonight," Keith said with a smile. "You've probably saved my life."

"I was only too happy to help, Commander Keith."

Keith looked puzzled at the man again. "Okay, so you know who I am," he said.  "Now, is there some name I can call you?"

The man smiled. "Gabe," the man replied with a smile. "My name is...Gabe, Commander."

"Gabe?" Keith replied.  "Just Gabe?   Nothing else?"

"Just Gabe, Commander." the man replied.

"Well, Gabe," Keith said to him.  "Thank you again for bringing me here."

"You're welcome." Gabe said, the smile he had on seemed to be permanently on his face.  "I suppose you didn't realize that a storm was coming..."

"No, I knew it was coming," Keith replied.  "I just didn't think it would come in this quickly and with this much power."

"Caught you off guard, did it?" Gabe asked, a chuckle in his voice.

"You might say that." Keith replied. "And it's unusual for anything to catch me off guard."

"Well, you're safe and warm now." Gabe said to him. "The storm should let up by morning, I'm told."

Keith tilted his head at the man. "You're told?" he said.  "Told by whom?"

Gabe smiled. "I have my sources."

Keith paused, then nodded slowly. "Okay," he said.

Gabe looked at the gift Keith had set down in his lap. "For Princess Allura?"

"Yes." Keith replied, again slowly.

"She's a very kind woman." Gabe said to Keith. "She's had a very tough life."

"Yes, but she's become stronger for it." Keith pointed out. "She's very dedicated to you and the rest of her people.  In fact, I'm missing a party she's holding tonight, for the children of a nearby village, in honor of Christmas..."

Silence suddenly fell between the two men, and then, Keith's head suddenly bowed low.  "I wish I were there."

"Christmas is a special time for you, isn't it?" Gabe asked.

"Sure it is!" Keith replied. "It's a time to share with loved ones, a time to exchange presents..."

"I personally celebrate it for the birth of the Savior of the universe." Gabe replied.

"The Christ child..." Keith added, not wanting to appear ignorant.

Gabe rose to his feet and stood by the fire. "The Christ child is the reason we celebrate Christmas. But so often, many forget that, and instead, celebrate with presents, toys...you know."

"Yeah," Keith replied politely. "I know."

The man whirled around and gazed at the Commander. "But, speaking of presents, may I ask what it was that you got for Princess Allura, that was worth so much for you to nearly freeze over?"

"Nothing much really," Keith replied. "Just a heart crystal."

"A heart crystal, you say?" Gabe replied, suddenly appearing to be staring the ceiling.  "Ah, yes! Of course! Now I understand!"

Keith gawked at the guy with a puzzled look. "You understand?" he said, phrasing the comment more like a question.

Gabe suddenly looked at Keith and laughed out loud. "Oh, I'm sorry!" he said. "Just thinking out loud!  I do that!  But I assure you, I'm harmless!"

Keith continued to stare at the older, rugged looking gentleman.

"I'm...sure you're not." He replied cautiously, now suddenly questioning the man's intentions in his mind.

Was he maybe a robber in disguise?

"Well, I better see to your bedding." Gabe said aloud, disrupting Keith's suspicious thoughts.

"Bedding?" Keith replied. "Well, I thought I'd monitor the storm...see if it lets up enough for me make a go at it and head home"

"Not tonight, Commander." Gabe said, shaking his head. "This storm's a beauty. She'll be lasting far into the night.  Might as well resign yourself to spending the night here."

"Great..." Keith thought to himself, while smiling back at Gabe.

Inside, his heart grieved, as he glanced at the box in his hand...the gift for Allura that would have to wait.