Open Wounds

Disclaimer: I do not own Voltron or any of its characters.

Rating/Setting: Rating is T. Setting is DotU.

Response to Between Scenes/After the Credits KAEX Challenge. The Challenge was to write a story that explained what happened either between scenes for after the credits rolled from DotU. This story takes place between "Yurak Gets His Pink Slip" and "Give Me Your Princess." It also carries over to AFTER "Give Me Your Princess." These episodes were #14 and #15 respectively and therefore pretty early in the timeline. However, Keith gets hurt in BOTH of these episodes and sets the precedence for his determination to do whatever it takes and also he doesn't seem to go to the Med Bay… or does he?

In "Yurak Gets His Pink Slip", Keith fought Lotor out on a cliff somewhere and beat him, but Lotor cheated and hit him on the side the head with a rock causing him to tumble over the cliff. Allura comes in Blue Lion and runs Lotor off before he can kill Keith. Now to my story… The Voltron Force has just defeated Yurak the robeast and Lotor has flown off in his 'bat jet' or whatever that vehicle is.

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"All right team, let's disengage and return to the castle." Keith said over the com. He listened to the acknowledgements and then muted the mic. Closing his eyes for a moment as the other lions disengaged from Black, he let out a small groan. His head was killing him. He had to get his pain under control before he saw Allura. She would demand he go to the Med Bay.

A small beep indicated that Black was now in his single lion form. Setting the course, he returned to the castle and the pedestal. He was the last to exit his lion and return to the castle. Keith had only thought to worry about Allura, but the whole team was waiting for him as he walked into Control.

"What happened, Keith? Did he cheat?" Lance asked.

"Yes, he cheated. His sole purpose was to get the team separated so that we couldn't form Voltron." Keith replied, and then he put on a smile that he didn't feel as he added, "Things didn't work out as he wanted."

Hunk came over and clapped him on the back, saying something about giving him an extra dessert for supper.

Allura watched the scene before her. She thought Keith's smile was a little strained and he winced when Hunk slapped him on the back. The four men were leaving the room when she called out.

"Keith, don't you think you should go see Dr. Gorma?"

The commander glanced over his shoulder but didn't stop walking. "No, I'm fine, Princess. Just some aspirin and a good night's rest and I'll be fine." Keith let out an inaudible sigh of relief that he had dodged that bullet. He knew that he'd end up hurt at some point and have to go to the Med Bay. He was just putting it off. Too many bad memories came back to him with medical facilities. The accident when his parents were injured along with himself. Seeing them with all the machinery hooked up and then learning that his parents didn't make it…. The long stay and recovery for himself as he went through physical therapy to regain the use of his legs…. No, hospitals just weren't for him.

Allura watched her friends leave and crossed her arms. Her fingers tapped an irregular rhythm on her arms. Something was off. Keith was hurt and he wasn't going to the Med Bay. Well, she'd just keep an eye on him. She wasn't going to put up with any 'nacho' stuff from the guys. She frowned for a moment. Did Lance call it 'nacho' or 'macho'? She'd had to go look it up. She didn't want to embarrass herself like she had done in the past. Letting out an exasperated sigh, she walked out of Control.

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Over the next week, Allura watched Keith closely. He ended Lion practice early on three days and skipped debriefing the team on several others. At meals and in the rec room, none of the other Force members called Keith on his unusual behavior.

Finally, one evening, Allura watched Keith leave the rec room early. He said he had work to do, but it was obvious he wasn't feeling well. Turning to her left, she looked at Hunk with a raised brow. She saw his puzzled look but she wasn't buying it.

"Don't give me that look, Hunk. What's up with Keith? Why won't he go to Dr. Gorma?"

Looking uncomfortable, Hunk replied, "The commander has his reasons. Let's leave it at that."

Allura leaned toward him and there was exasperation in her tone as she spoke. "He has his reasons does he? Well, he's hurt and I'm surprised that you guys aren't trying to get him to see the doctor." Her gaze traveled across the casual furniture of the room until she found Lance and Pidge. The two also seemed to be uncomfortable at her scrutiny.

Waving a hand in the air, Lance said, "Keith's a private person. We only know his reasons because we've been a team for over a year."

"So you do know his reasons." Allura's tone was hurt and accusatory at the same time.

"We'd tell you, Princess, but it's not our place to." Pidge said with a resigned air. "I think you should ask him yourself and if he wants to tell you, he will."

Allura nodded and then let it drop. Whatever Keith's reasons, it seemed they were very personal and his team wasn't going to betray the trust he had in them, not even to her. She was a little hurt that he hadn't told her about it. The guys all got up and found things to do that took them away from her immediate vicinity. It was obvious they didn't want her to ask any more questions. However, she couldn't help but wonder about the situation.

She went to bed with no more answers than she had when she watched Keith leave the rec room. But before she closed her eyes, she had a plan to find out her answers.

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Standing outside Coran's office, she thought for a moment about what she was doing and then entered.

Looking up from the papers stacked neatly in front of him, Coran smiled at her and asked, "Good morning Princess Allura. Is there something I can help you with?"

Allura walked over to the desk and stopped in front of it, running her fingers along its smooth surface. Her insides churned a little as she spoke. "Have you read the background information on the Voltron Force?"

Looking puzzled as he put down his pen, Coran asked, "Why yes, I have reviewed their military dossiers as have you."

The princess kept her gaze focused on Coran's face as she rejoined, "I'm not talking about their military information. I'm talking about their personal background information."

Coran's eyes narrowed as he leaned back in the chair, its springs creaking in protest at the pressure. "I have, Princess. Why are you asking?"

"I want to review the files myself."

"Why?"

Lifting an eyebrow, Allura asked, "Why not? We're entrusting our planet to them. I think it is fair that we know their histories."

The springs in the chair creaked again as Coran sat forward. "All their histories or just one in particular?" The royal advisor watched the red flush creep up his charge's neck to her cheeks. "I know you're concerned about Keith and his… dislike over medical treatment. However, I can tell you that Dr. Gorma knows how he's doing and though Keith hasn't been to Medical Bay, Dr. Gorma has paid him a visit. The commander is fine." Coran paused for a moment and watched Allura's fingers as they moved back and forth across the desk. "As you said, we are entrusting them with our planet. There is nothing in their backgrounds to cause you any undue concern but it is your right as Crown Princess to view any information on military personnel." Coran turned to his console and typed in a series of commands and then stood from his chair and walked around the desk to stand beside Allura.

Allura couldn't look him in the eye and she felt that the flush was still upon her cheeks. Quietly she asked, "You don't think I should look do you?"

"I know you are concerned about him. If you are concerned because of his position as Voltron Commander, then by all means, read the file. If you are concerned about him because he's your friend, then I think you should reconsider. Friends don't read files on each other, they talk to each other." With that, he turned and silently walked out of the room.

Moving quietly to stand in front of Coran's computer screen, she looked at the words on the screen. 'Keith Kogane: Personal File' was written in bold on the screen. Allura seated herself and stared at the screen as she moved her fingers to the keyboard. One touch of her finger and the file would open. For a moment she hesitated and then moved her finger to the key that would exit her from the file system. Closing her eyes, she realized how close she had come to violating something she cherished – her friendship with Keith. If he wanted to tell her, he would. If he didn't, well, she had her own secrets as well. She could allow him a few.

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The weeks passed by and soon it was almost a month since their encounter with Lotor and the Yurak robeast. Keith had returned to his usual self and Allura had dropped the notion of asking him any questions about his past. It just seemed such a personal thing to ask. However, his dislike of the Med Bay had caused her to think about their precarious situation. With Sven still recovering, they had no back-up pilots. What if Keith or one of the guys were severely injured… or what if the Garrison recalled them? What would Arus do? What would SHE do? Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow were similar enough in size and controls that she thought she could handle one of them if she needed to. But Black… well, the primary Lion had more systems as it routed all commands for Voltron. She wasn't sure she could fly it. What she needed to do was train in Black Lion. That was the only way to learn it. She would do it secretly if possible, but taking a large mecha Lion off a pedestal in front of the castle would be hard to secretly. However, her options were limited. Coran would be against it and so would Nanny. If she could just prove that she could handle the Lion, then maybe Keith would train her. She needed to be ready to take command if the boys left. Her heart ached at the thought of them leaving and if she were honest with herself, her heart ached most at the thought of a certain pilot leaving….

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These events and thoughts led Allura to take Black Lion out for training without asking. The episode "Give Me Your Princess" then unfolds. Allura is reprimanded by Coran and the team for her actions and she takes it upon herself to surrender to Lotor in the hope that he will spare Arus. The team goes to save her with a plan of attack that includes missiles fired from the castle. The team, Lotor, and Allura are all out in the open when the castle fires the smoke screen missiles. Keith runs over to Allura and tells her to run. With his back turned to Lotor, he doesn't see the prince and his lazon sword and takes a slash to his back. However, he is still able to fight and once again they are victorious. When the team enters Castle Control after the battle, Keith is being support by both Allura and Lance. Someone remarks that he is injured and suddenly he stands on his own and holds his right shoulder and says that it's just a scratch (or something like that). Keith then launches into one of his optimistic and slightly corny speeches praising Allura and that's how the episode ends. What happened next?

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Allura was glowing with pride after Keith's effusive speech. It was all very nice and wonderful but… he had seemed so injured after he returned from Black Lion. Was he really feeling that much better? Lazon swords were known to cut and sometime cauterize wounds but they also had the ability to cause laser shock which could be debilitating.

As the team came up to congratulate her, she continued to watch the commander. Keith stood holding his shoulder still. Only a small amount of blood had seeped through his shirt indicating the location of his wound. However, he still needed to see Dr. Gorma. There was no way he could appropriately clean and bandage a wound in that location. So after listening to her teammates, she moved to Keith.

"You need to see the doctor about that wound, Keith."

Keith dropped the hand that had been at his shoulder and said, "It's just a scratch, Princess, it will heal up fine."

He would not easily do this and the princess could see it in his stance and hear it in his tone. Therefore, she went with the one thing that she thought would sway him to her way of thinking. "I'd rather you have it checked out. It might require stitches. We rely on you and if you are out of commission because of an infected wounded, well, we'd be at Lotor's mercy."

Keith momentarily frowned at her. She had appealed to the one thing that would make him go where he dreaded most. The thought of the team… of Allura… being at Lotor's mercy was not something he would allow. If something happened to her because he hadn't taken care of himself, well, it didn't bear thinking about.

With a slight slump of his shoulders, Keith said, "I'll go to the Medical Bay right now."

"Thank you, Keith," Allura said with relief. She watched him turn and head out the door. The soft footfalls of a friend didn't register until he was right beside her.

"So how did you get him to go?" Lance's tone was curious.

Shrugging, she said, "I appealed to his sense of duty?"

"Duty?"

"Yes. I told him that we'd be at Lotor's mercy if he were out of commission due to an infected wound that had been left untreated."

"We'd be at Lotor's mercy, huh?" Lance said with a smirk.

Turning an inquisitive face towards Lance, she said, "Yes, we. The whole team would be at risk."

Lance schooled his features and said, "Of course, Princess." However, his mind was turning. Of course Keith wouldn't want the team to be at risk because of him, but he had a feeling that Keith was concerned about a particular member of the team being at Lotor's mercy. He turned and the smirk returned.