Masquerade, Part 2

by JoAnn

Quick Disclaimer: Voltron is the property of World Events Productions.

Notes: "" = spoken ** = thought _ = emphasis [] = movement I didn’t want to bother with detailing. {g}

Eyes bulging, barely containing herself until Keith leaves, Nanny declares, “We must tell him to leave. He _lied_ to us! He’s _indecent_!!”

“Nanny...” Coran warns, “We need Keith as the leader of the team and as the pilot of Black Lion.”

“He can be replaced!”

Hunk’s eyes narrow. “Not unless you’re also willing to replace all of us. Right guys?” *Lance looks oddly flushed and he’s being awfully quiet... I hope he’s not coming down with anything.* “He’s _our_ captain.” *At least Lance is with it enough to agree with Pidge and me. Unlike the Princess. I can see life is going to be interesting, if Keith keeps doing stuff like that...*

Nanny’s eyes widen, and she sucks in a deep breath, preparing for a tirade.

“Enough! There will be _no_ talk of replacing Keith. We are _all_ agreed that he is the Captain of the Voltron Force, and the pilot of Black Lion.” Allura declares, eyes flashing.

Nanny protests, “But---”

Coran interrupts firmly, “We _are_ agreed. Piloting the lions is a harder task than it seems from the outside. Finding a replacement to pilot the Black lion would be extremely difficult. Frankly, I was surprised the five of them piloted the lions so easily on their first try. Nanny, your opinions are important to all of us--”

Pidge mumbles, “if only so we don’t have to listen to you”

Coran raises his voice over Pidge’s comment and Lance’s sniggers. “But you are not part of the Voltron force. Nor are you in any way part of the chain of command that Keith answers to. He has done everything we’ve asked of him. We need him.”

Outraged, Nanny glares at them all, but seeing that no one is willing to listen to her, stalks out of the room.

In the echoing silence after her departure, Pidge says thoughtfully, “You know, Keith was the one to choose the team to go to Arus. He was given suggestions about who to take with him, but his was the final decision. I think he might have known something about what was going to happen to us...” The others contemplate that idea.

Lance, finally regaining his composure after the view of Keith’s assets, breaks the silence, “Anyway, that’s something we can talk to him about later. I have a feeling that there is more that Keith is hiding from us. But I trust him.”

Coran nods. “There is no reason to meddle with what works. Whatever other reason Keith has for being a part of the Voltron force, he has protected Arus, and her sister planets. Shall we tell him our decision?”

Cheerful nods all around, they troop off to the library.


The whole gang crowds into the library beaming. “Keith?” Allura calls.

Keith, still in cat form, lifts his head from his grooming. “Mrrow?”

“You _are_ Black Lion and our Captain. No conditions.” Allura’s widening grin brightens the room.

Keith shifts to his half-cat form -- this time, complete with a tail. “What about Nanny?”

“You might want to stay away from her,” Hunk suggests. “But she isn’t part of the Voltron force. You’re our captain, our leader, no matter what secrets you keep. Though it would be nice if you told us _before_ we get blindsided with them! You can trust us.”

Keith’s ears twitch, and he ducks his head. “right..”

“So how much magic do you need to live?” Pidge inquires. “And how did you get this magic? Any other special dietary needs? Is there any way we can help?”

“No, no other special dietary needs,” Keith says, “I don’t really need too much magic.. I need less if I stay in this hybrid form.”

“_No_ problem.” Lance mutters.

Allura turns to Lance, “What did you say?”

Lance blushes. “Nothing.”

Keith blinks at the two of them. “So, will it be a problem if I stay like this most of the time?”

Pidge looks at Allura and Lance, and grins wickedly. “I don’t think so, skipper.”

Keith eyes them suspiciously. Allura has a dreamy look on her face. Lance has his face down, studying his shoes. Pidge’s grin widens further. Hunk looks as lost as Keith feels. Coran sighs, and shakes his head, refusing to meet Keith’s eyes. Puzzled, Keith lets it go. *They want me here and they’re willing to let me stay in my most comfortable form. I’m not going to question my good fortune. Though it could be even better...* Keith firmly suppresses that thought. *_No_ questioning.* “To answer the rest of your questions, I form a kind of link and through it just absorb the magic... It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t a shifter. There aren’t words for it. I can drain a magic-user if I choose to as well -- which is what I started to do to Haggar when Lotor interrupted. Some people -- like the Princess, Lance, and Sven -- radiate magic, so I can absorb some of what I need from them...”

Allura bolts upright, shaken from her preoccupation . “What?”

Keith ears droop as he ducks his head in embarrassment. “The three of you radiate magic. I would _not_ harm any of you. It’s sort of like a plant taking your carbon dioxide -- you don’t need it anymore, and actually feel better with it gone. If I drained you, you’d feel it, mostly as exhaustion, but what I absorb just from your presence you never miss. Even if you had magic training and actively used your magic, you’d never miss what I take.”

Pidge questions sharply, “Just how much do you need? Sven’s not here anymore, so do Allura and Lance radiate enough magic for you to survive? Do you _need_ Haggar’s magic also?”

Keith sighs. “Allura and Lance are not enough. In this hybrid form, they are almost enough, but I’d still need supplements from Haggar.”

Eyes narrowing, Lance demands, “What else? You’re holding something back...”

Keith rolls his eyes, and snarls softly. “If you can read me even in this form, I’m more out of practice than I thought.”

“Keith...” Lance warns.

“All right already! There’s one way that one of you alone could supply the magic I need. I pick up magic better with touch. If we’re skin to skin for a good amount of time -- for example, at night when you sleep -- I’d have more than enough magic to survive. Over time I might even store enough to work some spells at need. And of course, any, ah, intimacy between us would increase the amount of magic you radiate and that I can absorb.” Keith refuses to look at anyone, his tail twitching in agitation and embarrassment.

Allura’s eyes go impossibly wide, and she turns a deep shade of red.

Lance gulps, and shuts his eyes, also turning beet red.

Coran opens and shuts his mouth several times, unable to think of anything to say.

Hunk’s in complete shock for a moment or two, but then a thoughtful look crosses his face. He studies Allura and Lance, then turns to Pidge with a question on his face. Pidge's wicked grin hasn’t faded, and he nods firmly at Hunk. Hunk and Pidge each take a firm hold of one of Coran’s arms. With his grin widening even further, Pidge comments, “We’ll just let the three of you decide what’s going to happen. I don’t believe that it’s any of _our_ business.”

Puzzlement softening his embarrassment, Keith watches Hunk and Pidge hustle Coran out of the room. Blinking, he regards Lance and Allura.

Swallowing firmly, Allura lifts her chin proudly and steps closer to Keith. “I’d be willing.” She turns an even deeper shade of red. “For it all.”

Keith stares at her for a moment, shocked. “I... I’m, ah, flattered... Thank you. But I wouldn’t want to cause more problems between you and Nanny.”

Allura protests, “But --”

Keith, composure regained, replies firmly, “No. I truly appreciate the offer and the sacrifice, but it just isn’t a good idea. Besides Nanny, who is enough of a reason on her own, is the fact that you’re _the Princess of Arus_. To put it bluntly, I don’t believe you’d be able to project the right amount of authority if people are gossiping about the fact that we sleep together.” His feline face softens. “The only way it could work out would be if we were married. I won’t do that, Allura. I just don’t see you that way. I’m sorry.” *Now, if _Lance_ was willing to offer... Which I doubt will _ever_ happen. At least now I have an excuse to touch him more...*

Pale now, Allura shuts her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she nods sharply. “I understand.” And walks quickly out of the door before she breaks down in front of them.

Watching, Lance winces in sympathy. *He let her down gently, but still... I can’t take that chance. I _know_ him. If I tell him how I feel and he doesn’t feel the the same, he’d feel honor-bound to not sleep with me, even though it would help him out, and none of his arguments against sleeping with Allura platonically apply to me. Even if it isn’t as lovers, I _want_ to sleep with him. Even though I know it will be torture to have him that close and no closer...* “Why don’t you sleep with me from now on?”

Keith eyes Lance suspiciously. “I really will be fine without extra magic from you. I’ve balanced everything this far...”

“But why do so if you don’t have to? Besides, how delicately is that balance set, hm?”

Sighing, Keith agrees. “Ok, ok, you’ve made your point. I’ll sleep with you.” *I wish you wanted more...*

__________ [that night]

Nervously, Lance putters around his room, in his robe, waiting for Keith. His door swishes open, and Keith pads in. Lance controls his disappointment at not being able to sleep with Keith in at least a somewhat human form, takes off his robe, and slides into bed.

Keith takes a deep breath for control, eyes wide at the brief glimpse of Lance that he had, and noses his way into Lance’s bed. For a tense moment, the two lie stiffly apart. Then Lance turns over and wraps an arm around Keith. “feels good,” he mumbles into Keith’s fur.

Keith snorts, ruffling Lance’s hair. *So now I’m a comfort toy? I guess there’s worse things to be.*

The two relaxe into sleep, Lance wrapping himself around Keith.

________ [sometime deep in the night]

Keith half-wakes, blearily wondering why he’s in cat form... Abruptly, he snaps completely awake as he realizes the warm body wrapped around him really _is_ there, not a dream. He basks in the feel of Lance, wanting very badly to be able to hold Lance. *They did tell me they didn’t mind if I stayed in my hybrid form most of the time. And they know that I absorb magic better in that form than this one... * [shifting] Keith resolutely ignores the small voice inside telling him that this is a bad idea... *I just have to remember _no_ lusting...* Keith falls back asleep, the two of them now twined around each other.

_______ [early morning]

*feels so good... soft fur over hard muscle wrapped all around me...* “Mmmmm” Lance, still in the grip of his dream, nuzzles closer, sliding his leg between Keith’s... *feels so real.... feels like he wants _me_... What!* Lance jerks awake.

Which wakes Keith, leaving the two of them staring at each other with barely a handspan between their faces.

Keith, despite all the fur, manages to look completely embarrassed. “I’m sorry, Lance. I..” *I thought I smelt pheremones. But the way he’s looking at me...* “I thought I could control myself... If you want me to stay in cat form...”

“No! And I’m _not_ sorry. I’ve wanted you for so long...” Lance leans forward slowly, giving Keith a chance to back away. Keith, though very surprised, isn’t foolish enough to turn down good fortune, and leans forward to meet Lance in their first kiss.

The two spend the rest of the morning very pleasurably. And leisurely.

_______ [late afternoon]

Lance mumbles softly, “I _knew_ you were still holding back on us...”

Keith smiles happily. “You know me too well.”


Comments for JoAnn should be sent to me with either JoAnn's name or "Masquerade" in the subject line. I'll forward them immediately to her without looking. Arigato.

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