Note: See Part 1 for disclaimer and warnings.
Practice was little different from any other day. Keith gave the orders, everyone else followed. Except that Allura wasn't there. Keith had a bit of trouble adjusting to Sven's voice over the comm at first, but then he settled into the routine. But Keith was still having a hard time keeping himself together. His mind kept wandering back to the gun in his dresser, and how easy it would be to just end it all. He was pulled out of his reverie by a shout over the comm.
"Hey! Captain, you still there?" Pidge calling to him. He brought his mind back to reality.
"Huh? Yeah Pidge. I'm here."
"Good. We thought we'd lost you." Lance.
Mentally Keith kicked himself for not paying attention. If that had been a battle, he would've been killed easily. From there on, he kept his mind focused.
Later, when practice was over, Keith sat on his bed, staring at the wall in silence. There were no pictures on his wall. Not of his family or anyone. His mother was dead, he had no brothers or sisters. And he hated his father. And, right now, himself as well. He felt a lump rising in his throat to emerge in a sob that echoed frighteningly in the small, empty room. He moaned softly, standing. He was alone. All alone. And alone he would stay, unless…his gaze gravitated to the dresser again. He stumbled, zombie-like, to where the gun still lay. He picked it up, caressing it. His path to freedom. To get away. 'All I want…' he fingered the trigger, bringing the barrel up to the side of his head, level with his eyes, which he closed.
'All I want…' Keith pulled the trigger. His mind was blinded by pain for a moment, and then all went blank. Vaguely he knew he was on the ground. Slowly his conscious faded, faded, faded to black. His last thought as he died was of Alex.
"I should go talk to him, Sven."
"Lance-I told yew, don't vorry."
Lance turned to face his lover, gripping Sven's shoulders tightly. "No. Something's wrong."
"How can yew be sure?"
"Another of yew're haunches?"
Lance nodded solemnly. Sven drew him into his arms, stroking his hair gently. Lance leaned against him limply.
"Sven, I can't forgive him for what he did. You know that. But-it's not like I want him dead. After all, he is our friend."
"Yew're right." Sven released him, gazing at him woefully. "Eef you vant to go, eet's yew're decision."
"Thanks, love." Lance leaned up to kiss him on the cheek before he left.
"Lance?" Sven said as he was about to leave.
"Yeah?" Lance replied, turning.
"Be careful, love. Please?"
Lance smiled gently at him. "I will. Hey, it's me." Sven shook his head, laughing softly. Lance walked down the hall to Keith's room, pausing at the door. He took a deep breath and knocked.
There was no answer. He knocked again. Still no answer. Lance frowned, and knocked again, harder. He waited. When yet again there was no answer, he tapped the keypad lightly. It blinked at him. The door was locked. Lance frowned harder, tapped at the keypad more. [LOCKED] it blinked.
He tapped some more, growing slightly frustrated. Finally it blinked the message Lance wanted.
[UNLOCKED] it bleeped softly, as if in congratulations. Lance hit the key to open the door, and walked in, tentatively. Immediately he knew something was amiss. There was a faint scent of smoke in the air and of-blood? His heart lurched.
"Keith?" he called. No answer, as with the door. The room seemed empty. 'If it was empty, why was it locked?'
"Keith…?" he walked over to Keith's desk, where everything seemed in order. He glanced at the other side of the room. The bed, and the dresser. He couldn't see the floor between them. Worry made his heart pound in his chest. "Keith? Hey, buddy, you okay…?" somehow he knew it was worth it to call to him. Slowly, he walked around to the other side of the bed. When he saw what-who-lay there, Lance paled and dropped to his knees. His mind racing, his heart pounding, he reached out a trembling hand to brush at Keith's shoulder.
"Keith?" he smelled blood. Lance rolled Keith's body over onto it's back, staring in horror. His right arm, lying across his chest like a lead weight, held a gun, of old earth style. The right side of his head was a wash of blood, drizzling from a hole in his temple. His head lolled limply on his neck.
"Oh, Keith," Lance whimpered, starting to cry. He pulled Keith's body into his arms, rocking it unconsciously. "Oh, Keith." 'I never wanted this…why did he go? I didn't really want him dead, oh god I swear I didn't…why did he do it? Oh, god…oh, god oh god Keith…' his mind numb with shock, Lance sat there, holding his dead friend, shaking uncontrollably, and sobbing silently.
Sven was worried. He knew Lance could take care of himself, he was a grown man, after all. But he was still worried. It was in his nature to be protective of anyone he loved or cared about. So, he decided to check on his lover. When he got to Keith's room, he found the door unlocked, and let himself it. The first thing he noticed was the sound of quiet sobbing from across the room. The second thing was the smell of blood and death in the air. Cautiously Sven made his way around the bed, to find Lance kneeling on the floor, holding Keith in his arms. But something was wrong. No, the blood…could Keith really…? He knelt by Lance, and laid a hand on his shoulder. Lance looked up at him, terror and grief obvious on his features.
"Keith's dead?" Sven asked in disbelief.
"Keith's dead…" Lance whispered miserably. Sven sat back, staring at the ceiling. Keith was dead. Dead. Forever. He found himself crying softly. Dead. He leaned over and took Keith's hand in his, as he had done time and time again. But this time it was cold, and limp. Unresponsive. Dead. He gripped it tightly, tears falling down his face. Lance sobbed quietly beside him. Sven let out a great shuddering breath. What would they do now?
"Lance? Lance, luf...wake up..." A heavily accented voice gently pulled Lance from his slumber.
"Uh?" he replied, blinking up at Sven's handsome face. He found his eyes sticky and gritty-the feeling one got from crying heavily. He sniffed. He had been crying-but what-
"Sven, is Keith-" he couldn't finish his sentence. He knew the answer even before Sven told him. Keith was dead. Killed by his own hand. Sven nodded slowly, sadly in reply. "Oh, Sven..." Lance whispered, as Sven drew him into his arms, cradling him with his powerful, warm presence.
"Shhh-luf, qviet...please...yew'll make yourself sick." Lance sobbed quietly. Oh, this was all his fault. Why was he so cruel to Keith? He should've seen it coming, could've stopped him-oh, dammit!
"W-what are w-we gonna do?" he snuffled.
"I-I don't know, luf. I told Coran-" Sven cut off. He didn't know what more to say. He didn't dare tell him anything else. That Keith's body was being frozen for the time being-it sickened him, what would it do to Lance? That Nanny had complained of the blood on the carpet...that had angered him. He hadn't shown it, though. The rest of the team was still in the dark. He suspected he better tell them. His thoughts were interrupted by Lance nuzzling impatiently at his neck like a cat. He sighed, leaned down and kissed Lance softly. It was 10:00 at night. The team could wait till morning. No sense worrying them before they slept, if they slept. He'd tell them in the morning-right now he had more important things to think about, like Lance. He lay down next to his lover, holding him close, silence. Lance was quiet now. Too exhausted by the recent events to do much more than sleep or cry. Sven stroked his hair absently, wishing he could go back and set things right again. If this wasn't the worst, then they were in big trouble. Real big. Sven yawned. But, for now, all he wanted to do was have a nice, long conversation with the sandman.
Most of the morning was a blur, getting up, leaning against his lover in the shower...getting dressed...stumbling almost blindly as he walked to Castle Control. He was still numb from the shock of Keith's death. He could hardly believe it was true. He was really dead. When he and Sven arrived at castle control, the other three were waiting for them.
'Wait-three?' Lance thought frantically, 'Oh-wait, the princess is here. That's right.' His heart sank to his belt.
Sven cleared his throat, though it was hardly necessary in the deafening silence of the control room. He cast a nervous glance at Coran, who favored him with a sympathetic look. Sven looked back at the team and princess, steeling himself for their reaction. Lance just stared dumbly ahead, hardly noticing anything or anyone. Pidge and Hunk seemed curious, if impatient. The princess was, of course, anxious, knowing somehow that the news had something to do with Keith. Sven took a deep breath.
"Ahh-I hef some terrible, terrible news, for all of us." This caught their attention. He looked at the ground. "Our Captain-und friend-Keith, is-dead." He stated flatly. He could think of no other way to put it. Pidge and Hunk just stared at him in disbelief, and the princess-inwardly Sven groaned. He had forgotten that Allura was basically in love with Keith already.
"What? Oh, no, you can't-it's not-" She too was disbelieving, but unlike the others, she voiced it. Sven winced.
"I'm efraid so, princess. I'm sorry, bot he ees."
"NO!!" she screamed, and even Lance was brought to attention. Sven, glowering in spite of himself, caught her by the shoulders and forced her to look at him.
"Princess-please, I know eet's hard to believe, but it's true! Keit is dead! Don't yew understand? He's dead?" He let her go, berating himself as he did so. He hadn't lost his temper at someone like that in a long time. Allura's lower lip trembled, tears running down her face. Coran came over quickly, leading her away with an arm draped across her shoulders. Before he exited the room, Coran bade him a glance that spoke of quiet sympathy and terrible grief. Sven nodded in reply. For now, there was nothing more to say.
Later that night, Lance lay awake, head resting on Sven's chest. He'd slept that way a lot lately. His lover's steady heartbeats and even breathing comforted him, a sort of natural lullaby. But tonight- tonight, somehow, he couldn't sleep. The image of Keith's body-innocent even in death-plagued his mind.
And the necklace. The gold cross on a gold chain. He'd seen it a thousand times over. Had toyed with it as they lay together in the dark, had seen it slip from Keith's shirt when he leaned over him.So familiar, and so haunting. He couldn't get it out of his mind. The bright, sunny gold against the palor of dead flesh. He rolled over, away from Sven, still thinking.
He had an idea.
Lance crawled wearily out of bed-limp, unwilling muscles nearly pulling him down again. He dressed in pants and a shirt-in case he was caught-and went out into the hall. He padded softly down the corridor, every sound seeming unnaturally loud in the night. The metal floor was cold to his bare feet, as had been Keith's cheek to his hand. He made his way to the Hall-where he knew Keith's body had been left for now-and stole into it silently.
The body was still there. The broken shell, lying silent.
Dead men don't tell tales.
He prayed quickly that his friend's soul would not hate him for doing something as desperate as this.
But he would never see Keith again. He wanted-needed-to have one, last thing to remind him. To pull him back from the depths of memory and time, to comfort him. He was just a few paces from the coffin now. The floor was now carpeted, cushioning his steps, silencing them. He stood next to it now, looking down at the pale and peaceful face. To those lips he'd kissed time and again. The raven-black hair he'd stroked gently, to the hands that had touched him most intimately.
The room was lit only by moonlight, illuminating the coffin and it's contents perfectly in blue-white light. It glinted off the chain around the body's neck. Quickly, before he could lose his nerve, Lance reached down, lifting Keith's neck to reach the clasp of the necklace. He almost lost it when he felt the limpness, the sheer death of it. Deftly, Lance unclasped the necklace, and set the body down right again. Feeling tears start to slide down his cheeks, Lance reached up to brush them off. With his other hand, he reached out to touch the body's hands. Almost unconsciously, Lance leaned down and kissed Keith's body on the lips.
But they were cold.
And on them Lance could taste the sharpness of embalming fluid and the sickly-sweet rot of a body weeks old. He pulled back quickly, falling to his knees before the coffin, crying out in grief. The hand that held the necklace was pulled close to his heart. He hung his head, sobbing uncontrollably.
A soft, oddly familiar voice caused him to lift his head suddenly. The voice sounded so far away.but Lance could hear each word perfectly.
Oh, love, don't cry. Please.
"Uh? Wh-what?" Lance whispered softly, still half-choked with tears.
Can you hear me, love? Tell me you can.
He knew the voice now. "K-Keith?" his own voice sounded far off to him. He knew he ought to be afraid-talking to a dead man-but somehow, he wasn't. "K-Keith.w-where are you?"
I'm with you, Lance. Always.
"But I feel-s-so.a-alone.Oh, K-Keith, I-I'm s-so s-sorry.oh, God, I-I-f-forgive you. Please.I-I d-do."
I know, love. I heard you. I'm with you, remember? And it's not your fault, Lancer.
"Oh, God-K-Keith." he suddenly realized that he still clutched the cross in his hand. "K- Keith.?" he ventured.
Keep it. Lance-this is the last time I'll ever be able to talk to you until you join me. Love, I have to go. Remember me, love..remember me..
"K-Keith! W-wait! K-Keith, please!" Lance cried out, standing and looking to the heavens, as if to find him. Silence. Lance waited. Silence. He hung his head, and in a voice barely audible, he spoke.
"I love you."
A last few words seemed to blow past his ears on a sudden draft.
I know. I love you, too...
Lance heaved a deep, shuddering breath, staring at the far wall as he stood in front of the coffin. The draft seemed to grow warm and blow around him, seeming to wrap him in a soft embrace. For a moment, he could almost feel Keith's hands in his hair, on his body.imagined he was here again.
But it was only the wind.
It was like this Sven found his lover, later, when he awoke alone. He'd guessed rightly that Lance would go and see his-their-love one last time. He hadn't expected to find his lover collapsed on the floor, sobbing even in unconsciousness. And in his hand was still clutched the cross. Sven had thought for a moment about whether or not to take it from him, but had decided sharply against it. Lance deserved his memories, didn't he? Just as much as any of them did. Sven knelt beside his lover, gently stroking his pale, innocent face. By now, he seemed to have stopped sobbing. Carefully, Sven rolled him over onto his back, wary of waking him. Then, he lifted his love into his arms. It was not as much of a weight as he'd thought.
This scared him. Granted, he'd always been bigger than Lance was, but still. The other man was like a featherweight in his arms. So, he stood, and returned with his sleeping lover to their room, laid him gently on the bed. Then, he lay down next to him, pulling the covers over both of them. Then, behind him, he heard Lance moan softly. Then, a string of garbled, guttural words.
Talking in his sleep? A deep frown creased Sven's forehead, and he rolled over, to watch the other. Lance's face twitched as he slept, almost a wince, and his eyelids fluttered, but did not open. Sven's frown deepened when his lover's words became clearer, and his muscles began to jerk spasmodically in his sleep.
Lura? Allura? The princess? Sven wondered. He dared not wake his love-he wanted to know what this was about.
"Lura...lura..stoppp.pplease.stoppp..y'dn'know..h'loves me..h'loves me.stoppp..ppplease..hhhlp.." The words were still half-garbled, but understandable enough.
Something. Allura doing something to him-or them?-Lance telling her to stop, saying "he loves me" over and over.Sven guessed wanly that "he" was himself. What was going on?
Suddenly, Lance's eyes snapped open, and for a moment Sven thought he was awake. Then he saw how almost glazed they looked, how they wandered listlessly from side of side. And the pupils stayed shrunken. That scared him even more. This was utterly unlike Lance at all. What the hell was going on?
He decided then to wake his lover up. Sven shook Lance lightly, repeating his name softly. When he did not responded. Sven shook him harder. Lance came awake with a sharp cry, blinking quickly, then slowly.
He shook his head, then stared blankly at Sven.
"W-what?" he muttered.
"Lance-Lance, eet's me, Sven." Sven shook him again for good measure. Lance continued to look at him blankly.
"S-Sven.w-with R-Romelle.." Lance shuddered violently.
"No, no---luf, I'm here." He reached out and touched his lover's face gently.
Lance twitched away, and Sven felt his heart wrench. "N-no.A-Allura f-fly b-blue l-lion, S-Sven on P- Pollux."
Sven gripped the other man tightly by the shoulders, bringing Lance's face inches from his own. "Lance, leesten to me. I am Sven, I am here, on Arus, vith yew. Allura vas eenjured. I fly blue lion. Reemember?" Lance blinked at him. "Lance-please, remember."
"S-Sven?" Sven nearly fainted in relief. "S-Sven? I-If y-you're here, w-where's K-Keith?"
Sven winced, closed his eyes and opened them again. "Lance-Keit ees dead." That seemed to bring him back fully. For a moment longer, they stared at each other silently in the dark. Then Lance croaked out a sob and pressed his face into Sven's chest, crying, shaking like a leaf.
"Oh, luf." That was all he could say. So they lay, for close to an hour. Eventually, Sven was crying as well, and they held each other, until they both fell asleep.