Happy Birthday, Keith!
Shiro promised to make it up to Pidge for asking her what the date was every other day for the past two weeks. Or was it four weeks? Shiro wasn’t sure anymore. It was difficult to keep track of time when most of theirs was spent light years away from Earth. Thank goodness Pidge thought to sync her equipment to earth’s time the day they all left.
“It’s October 22nd,” she told him, glancing briefly at her watch.
Shiro grinned, feeling a burst of excitement in his chest. “Great, things are right on schedule. Allura, can you contact Kolivan? I’m going to check in with Hunk in the kitchen.”
“Kolivan, who was that?” Keith asked as he walked into the briefing room of the Marmora headquarters. The holographic image of a communication line had fizzled out of view just as he entered.
“It was Princess Allura,” he replied solemnly as he turned to Keith. “She needs you at the Castle. Now.”
The former Paladin felt his chest squeeze around his heart, nervous tingles needling down his shoulders and back. Shiro usually acted as the liaison between the Blade and the team; why had Allura been the one to initiate contact? “What is it? Are they okay?” He swallowed past the tightness in his throat. “Is… Shiro okay?”
“She didn’t give me much information. It’s best that you depart immediately.”
Keith was already leaving before Kolivan could finish his sentence.
Keith landed his ship in the shuttle bay, but the lights hadn’t switched on upon his arrival. Something wasn’t right here, and the twisting feeling in his gut wouldn’t convince him otherwise. He hopped down from his ship, wielding his knife in a tight grip as his mask materialized over his face. Carefully, he weaved through the darkness, watching through the thermal imaging of his lenses for any heat signatures in the room.
He was alone.
Keith swallowed down a startled yelp as a booming roar echoed through the castle. His entire being felt pulled toward to sound. “Red?” he breathed before bolting to the lion’s hangar, his feet pounding against the metal floors. Stumbling to a stop near the door, he smashed the button repeatedly until it slid open with a loud hiss, freezing at the sight before him.
Red was lying down on her belly, her chin resting against the floor and her paws on either side of her head. Her eyes were glowing a soft yellow as she stared at him, and Keith could feel the gentle vibrations beneath his feet from her deep purring. He felt an intense ache inside of his chest as he steadily approached her, letting his mask blur out of view and pressing his hand flat against her muzzle.
“I miss you, too, buddy,” he whispered, the corner of his lips pulling up into a sad smile.
He took a couple of steps back as she opened her mouth, his eyes darting around in confusion as several pairs of legs could be seen through the beginnings of the breach. Soon enough, Red unveiled his teammates, grouped together with wide grins on their faces and party hats on their heads. Hunk held a neatly decorated cake in his hands and a pile of colorfully-wrapped boxes were piled in Coran’s arms up to his mustache.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” they erupted in a chorus, throwing their arms up into the air.
Keith’s mouth fell open as he met each of their gazes with stunned, eyes wide. “I…”
“Did we… did we do it right?” Allura asked tentatively, casting a worried glance at Shiro.
Keith nodded wordlessly, almost unaware of the tears that gathered in his eyes as a wide smile broke across his face. “You guys… I can’t believe you… you did this.” The weight of all of that worrying had lifted from his shoulders as he felt his chest expand with…
“It was Shiro’s idea. He remembered that your birthday was coming up,” Pidge commented as they all made their way down the ramp toward him. When given a curious look by the former Red Paladin, she tapped on her watch to answer his silent question. “Asked me for the date every day for like, two months.”
“And Red and I rehearsed the whole thing!” Lance chimed in proudly. “Didn’t we, girl?”
Hunk held up the cake, showing off an impressive design of Voltron decorated into the frosting. “I hope you like chocolate. Or… hopefully the Unilu equivalent of chocolate…”
Keith chuckled, thanking his teammates as they gathered around him. He turned his gaze up to Shiro, who stepped in front of him then, leaving little distance in between them. “I wasn’t going to forget,” he said quietly, a warm smile pulling at his lips as he cradled a hand against the side of Keith’s face. He bent down and pressed his lips against his forehead, letting them linger for a moment before pulling away. “Happy birthday, Keith.”
Any gesture of affection in front of others would have normally embarrassed him, but Keith couldn’t bring himself to care at the moment. He was too happy. “Thank you,” he whispered, reaching up and pressing Shiro’s hand against his cheek. “For everything.”
“Alright, alright, presents!” Lance announced, bouncing toward the exit. “To the lounge! You’re opening mine first!”
Keith watched as his teammates filed out, Shiro waiting behind with him, and for the first time since he joined the Blade, he felt like he was home again.