“WHOOOOO-HOOOOOOO, CANNON-BAAAAAALLL!!!!!!!!” cried Lance, wearing nothing but his blue shorts, diving off a rock ledge and into a crystal clear lagoon with a waterfall.
“This is the best….” he sighed once he floated back to the surface, letting himself drift about.
“I’ll say~” sighed Pidge in agreement, floating past Lance as well wearing nothing but a teal tube-top and shorts as well, courtesy of Allura.
“Look out, below!!!” called out Shiro diving in from the rock ledge this time, causing a big splash that caused the two Paladins to flounder about a bit, spitting water at their leader once he came up for air in retaliation.
The three ended up laughing as Allura sat at the edge of the lagoon dipping her legs wearing what one can only describe as a blue monokini with an Altean patterned Sarong wrapped around her waist. Her mice were all lounging in the water on a big lilypad looking leaf, enjoying the tranquility of the day while Coran had a fire going and a weird looking grill of sorts.
“Oh Coran, this planet is absolutely beautiful~!” exclaimed Allura over her shoulder as she closed her eyes and took in the sounds of the jungle around them and rush of the waterfall of the lagoon.
“I’m pleased you all enjoy it~,” replied Coran with a smile. “Me and my father used to come here when I was a boy, but with all the Galra attacks, I was half afraid this planet would have suffered like the Balmera.”
Shiro swam up to the edge and rested one arm on the flat stone edge. “Well, thank goodness this place is still thriving,” he said enjoying the waters. “We really needed this.”
“I believe after the latest battle we are all a bit...TENSE...and are in need of some rest for a bit.” Allura said tiredly as she observed the exhausted paladins in front of her.
Pidge looked like she was about to fall over if she wasn’t already leaning against Hunk who was barely staying awake himself. His eyes would close for a few seconds before he would wake back up and look around as if expecting an attack.
Shiro looked exhausted both physically and mentally as he was rubbing his head trying to nurse a migraine that had come from separating the blue and red paladin once more. Combining that with the constant fights with the Galra for the past several days he was surprised he was still functional by this point.
Lance and Keith were covered with cuts and bruises which was no surprise to anyone, unfortunately the two were scowling at each other having another argument just before Allura summoned them to the control deck. Both of them at this point had a hair’s length of between patience them which resulted in more brawls between the two and more arguments. The rest of the crew hadn’t been near them until near the end of whatever argument took place all they knew was something happened that the two were just sending scathing looks to each other and giving each other the silent treatment.
“The Galra have ceased for now so if we move the castle ship soon we won’t run into them hopefully for a while which will allow us to rest and recharge,”Coran said twisting his mustache. “Princess if you’ll allow me I know of a planet that may be a good place for us to recharge. It’s in Firdaus Galaxy I recall your father going there at times to rest himself.”
Allura nodded trusting her adviser. “Please do so Coran that quicker the better.”
“As you wish princess we should be there in about six vargas after we go through a wormhole!” Coran said as he started input the coordinates and Allura gave a tired sigh as she agreed, turning towards the Paladins.
“Rest in your rooms Paladins we will inform you when we arrive.” Allura said.
“No I shall inform you after you activate the wormhole princess you shall rest as well. You have been just as exhausted as the other Paladins and need your rest too, ” Coran said firmly.
Allura looked like she was about to argue but one look from the advisor reminded her of a look her father use to give her when she wouldn’t listen and nodded giving in.
With that the Paladins separated as they headed to their rooms, each one dragging along the way. Shiro was in the lead managing to keep straight, Hunk was still supporting Pidge practically carrying her to her room and while Keith and Lance weren't talking either, almost unconsciously they were leaning against each other for support as they walked.
“Don't worry princess I know the perfect place to go for our rest, just take your sleep and I'll let everyone know,” Coran said pushing Allura out of the main area.
“Okay let me at least put the coordinates in Coran,” the Princess said smiling tiredly,”since I'm the only one who can.”
“Quite right, alright Princess here they are.” Coran said and Allira nodded inputting the coordinates before she was shuffled off to bed.
“Why aren't Hunk and mullet head here?” Lance asked as he was floating right by the princess languidly. “They're seriously missing out.”
“Hunk wanted to take this time to gather some food from here,” Coran replied poking the fire. “It's alright everything here is quite safe to eat.”
“Uh are you sure? Last time Lance ate something safe he ended up with food poisoning for three days…” Pidge asked as Lance groaned remembering making Shiro sigh.
“I told you not to eat those berries Lance,” Shiro sighed. “Hunk was still cleaning them.”
“But they looked like regular blueberries!” Lance whined eliciting a chuckle from everyone else while Coran nodded solemnly.
“You lot may laugh now, but one must always be careful in preparing food no matter what! Who knows what side effects might occur?” warned Coran as he continued poking the fire.
“Wow…. I can't believe all these are edible,” commented Keith, plucking a strange looking pear with spots that looked almost like little hearts from a low hanging branch.
Hunk scrolled through some documents with information on them projected on his little screen from his device as he plucked some bean pod looking vegetation from a vine, placing them into an Altean storage container. “According to these documents Coran gave me, this entire planet is apparently a garden oasis. It’s known as the most thriving, bountiful planet in the Firdaus Galaxy.”
“Sweet….” Keith said a little impressed as he placed more fruits he found into a small pile in the centre of a large cloth.
Hunk could not help but skip from tree to tree in excitement as he gathered more alien fruit and vegetables into his containers. “Oh boy, oh boy! I can't wait for Coran to show me what we can do with these~”
“Hey, if you're cooking, you could definitely work some magic on these alien stuff,” reassured Keith over his shoulder, earning a grin from the Yellow Paladin as he tied up his harvest into a bundle.
“Welp! This should be enough to tide us over for a while!” exclaimed Hunk gathering up his own harvested items as he began marching back towards their camp. “Let's go Keithy!”
Keith hummed a response when he suddenly heard his stomach rumble. Patting his belly, Keith slipped a hand into his bundle and pulled out a little pink, peach shaped fruit that had yellow stripes. The paladin gave it a sniff, smelling its fruity fragrance before shrugging and wiping it on his shirt, eating it heartily as he trotted after Hunk, slinging his bundle over his shoulder.
“Okay so if we peel these and then boil them it should be safe for us to eat… ” Hunk read as Keith was looking around the kitchen pulling out anything resembling kitchen tools from the cupboards.
“Any ideas what you're going to try and make?” Keith asked as he pulled out something that looked like a cross between a spatula and a fork, shrugging he put it on the counter with the others.
“Maybe something resembling pasta? I think we can make something like vegetable pasta with that shredder thing you pulled out,” Hunk said eyeing the tools. “Maybe that or some soup?”
“It might be easier and vegetable stew sounds good," Keith relied as Hunk nodded.
“Alright might as well keep it simple and hearty for now and then we can try to make pasta once I get a better feel for the food,” Hunk said grinning as he tossed Keith an apron. “Alright from what Coran’s data says grab the purple looking leek things and see if you can cut them about an inch thick?”
Keith nodded and was about to start when Hunk grabbed his wrist.
“With a normal knife Keith.”
“.....do we even have normal knives here?”
“We have spoons so probably?”
The two just shrugged at each other before searching the cupboards and drawers.
All of a sudden, Keith felt a little warm and woozy as he leaned against the kitchen island for a bit. “Hey Hunk, I think the heat is getting to me… will you be alright in here on your own?”
Hunk shot Keith a good natured smile and thumbs up as Keith returned the gesture and went to go and change.
Keith slipped into the cool lagoon with a contented sigh as Lance and Pidge were squirting water at each other.
“Hey Keith! Pidge is declaring a Knight rider battle! I need a rider!” called Lance waving over to his teammate.
Keith gave a little irritated growl at being disturbed but shrugged it off as he went to join the others where Pidge was riding on Shiro’s shoulders and Lance was waiting. Keith was only just a short distance away from them when Lance suddenly dived under water.
“Woah!” exclaimed Keith suddenly getting hoisted out of the water sitting on Lance’s broad shoulders who grinned cheekily.
“LET'S DO THIS!!!” declared Lance excitedly while Shiro and Pidge got into position.
“First one to fall does clean up!” announced Shiro hanging onto Pidge’s legs as the girl got her game face on.
“You're goin down Keithy boy!”
“H-hold on!” Keith said a bit shakily, he had come here to relax not to play but it was too late now. He just hoped the dizziness and warmth from earlier passed so he didn’t end up accidentally drowning.
“You’re going down midget!” Lance snickered as Keith saw Pidge growl angrily at the cuban as Keith glanced down at the tanned male underneath him.
“Did you really need to insult Pidge?” Keith asked as he felt Lance’s grip on his legs tighten as Lance got a determined look on his face.
“All part of the plan Keith!” Lance smirked back as Keith resisted the urge to roll his eyes as the two teams got ready to fight. “Allura count us down!”
“Alright Paladins begin in 3....2...1...GO!!” Allura called as Shiro and Lance moved forward as Pidge and Keith were grappling from above trying to shove the other down into the water while Shiro and Lance tried to keep them balanced and make the other one topple over.
It was a huge challenge for Lance and Keith seeing that Pidge practically weighed nothing when being supported by the strong and sturdy Shiro. However, Keith had excellent core strength while Lance was very at home in the water and had no trouble regaining his balance whenever it looked liked Pidge was able to push Keith over.
Allura and Coran were cheering their support from the side of the lagoon along with the mice who hopped up and down excitedly.
At that moment, Hunk emerged from the castle carrying trays of food, expertly balancing them on his broad arms and head as he lay them all down on the picnic mat Coran had laid out earlier.
Hunk placed two fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. “Come and get it everybody!” he called out, diverting their attention.
“You're wide open!” exclaimed Keith seizing his moment as Lance lunged his rider forward.
“WAH!!" *SPLASH!!!* went Pidge as she and Shiro tipped over.
“We won! HA! Take that Pidge!” Lance crowed over the sputtering Green Paladin who was hissing like an angry cat while Shiro sighed but looked relaxed and was laughing as he picked up Pidge by the back of her swimsuit.
“I call foul!! Hunk distracted us!” Pidge screeched as she tried to get the two as Lance was still laughing as he was whooping with joy that he managed to work with Keith and beat Shiro and Pidge.
“Too bad! Take that Pidge!” Lance snickered as he threw his arms up in the air cheering loudly and looked like he was about to start dancing but he had forgotten about a certain weight on his shoulders. Keith had to literally wrap his legs around Lance’s chest and grab his hands that were in the air so he wouldn’t topple over.
“Lance! You idiot, I’m still on your shoulders!” Keith hissed looking down at the Cuban.
“What afraid of the water desert boy?” Lance retorted smirking as he got a familiar look on his face. It was the same look that preluded the start of a bad idea that the Blue Paladin had brewing in his head, either that or when he thought he was being slick with the flirting. Keith tighten his grip on Lance’s chest.
“Lance don’t you dare.” Keith hissed as Lance’s smirk got wider.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about all I know is I’m not about to carry you to the edge of the lagoon so…”
“Lance don’t you fucking even think about it!”
“It’s just water mullet.”
“Lance I swear to god! Let me get down myself!”
“Better hold your breath Keith!”
“LANCE YOU FUCKING-”
The rest of the Paladins watched with varying degrees of amusement seeing the two argue and then Lance laughing as he leaned backwards sending them both into the water with a loud splash.
The darker skinned Paladin was the first to emerge from the water laughing hysterically as he quickly moved back to the shore as Keith came up gasping for breath, his hair plastered against his face with a look that he was ready to murder Lance.
“Oh you are so dead!!!” declared Keith splashing after Lance who made a speedy swim back to shore.
Shiro quickly threw a towel in Lance’s face as he hauled Keith out of the water like a wet cat and placed another towel on Keith's head.
Keith glared heatedly at Lance who smugly grinned back and walked off.
Unknown to him, Keith stealthily power walked behind him, winding up his wet towel vigorously while everyone else just watched silently.
“SONOVABI-!!!!!”exclaimed a startled Lance jumping about a foot in the air, grabbing his stinging left buttcheek as it became his turn to glare at Keith who returned a smirk.
Lance looked he was about to retaliate when Hunk got in between them, placing his arms around their shoulders.
"Come on guys! Leave the Towel-Fu for later! Let's eat!!” exclaimed Hunk jovially as the two decided to cease fire although Lance signaled ‘I’m watching you!’ warningly to Keith who rolled his eyes.
Hunk’s ability to make humanely palatable food using alien food stuff never ceased to amaze Team Voltron as everyone eagerly wolfed down their food.
“Hunk, you are the culinary wizard of alien food!” exclaimed Lance pointing his spoon to Hunk.
“My compliments to the chef!” said Allura in agreement.
Hunk gave a theatrical bow with a flourish of his hand. “Thank you~ Thank you~”
“Oh this is just like how mom use to make it,” Pidge said groaning happily drinking the soup eagerly. “You're a serious miracle worker Hunk.”
“Mmm it's been awhile since I've had soup at all since Earth,” Shiro said smiling fondly as he took the soup with both hands and drank the broth.
“It's really good as usual Hunk,” Keith said chewing on a vegetable but winced when he felt some stomach pains and frowned,deciding to ignore them for now as he looked back at the yellow paladin,”what's your plan for dinner?”
“I might try that pasta idea as talked about earlier I tested that shredder thing in the kitchen and made some mini pasta samples with the vegetation,” Hunk replies as he tossed a small yellow vegetable from the soup into his mouth." “It looked like it came out fine.”
“Hunk, my best buddy in the world…” Lance said grinning as he leaned closer to Hunk.
“No Lance I haven't figured out how to make garlic knots yet,” He replied as the Blue paladin pouted. “I haven't seen anything resembling wheat to make bread yet.”
“I call first dibs when you do!” Lance declared firmly before he heard a groan next to him and frowned when he saw Keith put down his near empty bowl. “What's wrong with you Mullet head?”
Keith looked a bit pale as he was sweating, holding his head in obvious pain looking like he was trying to focus. Lance leaned a bit closer and put his hand on Keith shoulder to make sure he didn't fall over.
Hunk frowned as he recalled earlier how unsteady Keith looked in the kitchen. “You still not feeling better Keith?”
“You're ill?” Allura asked concerned but Keith raised his hands up stopping them from jumping to conclusions.
“Guys I think it's just the place’s heat or something, I was a little dizzy earlier and it's coming back. I'm just going to go back to the castle ship and rest.” Keith said as he saw the others looking worried. “I should be fine after a nap.”
“Do you need someone to walk you back? If you're dizzy I don't want you to hurt yourself,” Shiro asked standing up but Keith put up a hand.
“No really! I’ll see you guys later…” he said getting up and heading back inside.
Keith slowly made his way through the halls, his body getting warmer and warmer as he leaned against the walls for support. His room seemed further away than usual as Keith’s head was feeling progressively heavier.
It took a little while but he eventually managed to find his way to his room as he gratefully collapsed on his mattress, passing out before his head even hit the pillow.
Hunk looked towards the castle in concern as everyone helped pitched in to clean up the empty dishes.
“You're worried about Keith?” asked Lance, placing a hand on his friend's shoulder.
“He really didn't look well…” noted Hunk turning to Lance."I hope my cooking didn't make things worse….."
“I doubt it, but you’re right, he did look bad….” said the Blue Paladin before turning to the others. “Hey! We’re gonna go check up on Keith!”
The rest all nodded in acknowledgement as Lance and Hunk made their way inside.
Hunk rapped on Keith’s door. “Keith?” he called out softly.
The didn't hear anything which made them worry even more. They had grabbed some juice packets on their way over to the Red Paladin’s room hoping it would help but they weren't even sure what his condition was.
“Don't look so down buddy, we all ate your food just fine and none of us got sick maybe Keith is just allergic to some space tomatoes that you used,” Lance said patting his robust friend’s back. “Seriously don't worry about it.”
“I know but I can't help but worry, he seemed fine when we were gathering food together,” Hunk sighed as he knocked again. “Keith, Lance and I brought some juice packers for you to help. Can we come in?”
Lance frowned and pressed his ear to the door when the deafening silence lingered longer than they would've like.
“I can't really hear anything…” Lance said as he leaned closer to try and hear anything on the other side of the door. “Do you figure he locked it?”
“Probably if the door hasn't already opened,” Hunk replied from behind Lance.
“Well we could try again later?”’ Lance said frowning as he pulled back folding his arms. “He really looked really out of it when we were eating.”
Hunk sighed as he walked over to the door but pushed a panel to the side and there was a keypad there. He quickly pressed a number code and the door’s light above turned green.
“What did you just do?” Lance asked as the panel closed up before he could see what it was. “Did you just unlock Keith’s door from the outside?”
“It's an emergency override code I found while going through some data with Pidge when we were trying to fix the castle up,” Hunk replied grinning. “You know just in case we get stuck somewhere inside where we can't get out or if someone sleeps in and locks the door.”
“You're the one who keeps unlocking my door!?! I thought I was going crazy when I swore I locked it!” Lance shouted at his best friend. “Really Hunk why do you have to be like that and just let me sleep in?”
“Because it's either me or Shiro and Allura comes in dragging you out of bed so you can do extra training for sleeping in,” Hunk teased as he quietly walked inside the darkened room, straight for the bed. “Keith? Hey we have some juice packets to help you."
“Hunk? How'd you get in? I set the door to lock automatically when I'm inside,” Keith groaned out from under the blankets.
Hunk blinked. It...sounded like Keith but something was off…
“Was too worried to let you just sleep Keith,” Hunk replied as he gently patted the lump on the bed. “Feeling any better?”
They saw the lump move a bit.
“A little bit? I still feel really warm though,” Keith sighed getting up from under the covers as Lance’s and Hunk’s eyes popped wide open.
Keith gave a yawn as he rubbed his eyes and blinked blearily at Lance and Hunk.
“Did you guys get bigger?” Keith asked sleepily looking up at them.
“Uuuh….hey buddy? You feeling any different?” asked Lance unsurely as Hunk and Lance’s eyes followed Keith’s movement as he repositioned himself on the bed.
Keith shrugged. “Well, my headache is gone I guess..why are you guys staring at me?”
Lance and Hunk glanced at each other unsurely.
Keith stretched, cracking his neck. His bed felt bigger than usual but maybe it was because he still felt a little woozy. Keith dragged himself to sit on the edge of his bed, expecting his feet to reach the floor, only to have them dangle there.
Now Keith was wide awake as he waved his feet, trying to reach the floor. That was when he noticed how small his feet had become, and his hands.
“Huh?!” went Keith as he pushed himself off the bed, wobbling on his feet. His shorts apparently got bigger as well as his hands quickly flew the waistband in order to prevent them from slipping off.
“Guys….” Keith said looking up, waaay up at the now super tall figures of his teammate. “What’s going on?!”
“Should I tell him or should you?” stage whispered Lance.
“What?! Tell me what?!” demanded Keith, suddenly realizing his voice had gotten higher.
“Um...Keith? You remember going through puberty right?” asked Hunk nervously.
Lance face palmed himself. “Oh for the love of-! Look in the damn mirror!”
Two seconds later, the rest of the team of the team jumped in shock as a familiar scream rang out from the castle as they were cleaning up as Shiro and Pidge had lost the game against Lance and Keith. They had just entered the castle to drop the plates and everything in the kitchen when they heard the shout.
“KEITH!!” Shiro shouted hearing the Red Paladin and dropping the plates he had in the sink he took off the fastest anyone has seen him run.
“Whoa, never seen Shiro move that fast and was that Keith screaming?” Pidge asked Allura as they ran behind Shiro after discarding their own silverware as the Black Paladin had a good head start towards the Red Paladin’s room.
“I believe so, though I fail to understand what made him yell like that in the first place, he hardly ever makes that kind of noise,” Coran said as they were hurrying over to the paladin’s quarters.
There they reached Keith’s room, where they saw an indent in the metal door probably from Shiro’s mechanical arm forcing the door opened in his haste to get inside.
The doors slid opened and they stayed by the doorway to properly figure out what was going on.
Hunk and Lance were still staring in disbelief as Shiro was holding a small dark haired pre-teen that looked very familiar.
“Where’s Keith? We heard him screaming and where did this child come from?” Allura asked as she stepped in to get a closer look.
“I thought you said this planet was wasn't inhabited Coran?” Pidge asked looking at the advisor.
“Last I checked it wasn't but then again it's been about ten thousand years,” Coran replied twirling his mustache. "Still it's rather fascinating to see a native.”
“Guys you might want to take a closer look before you ask any more questions and make more assumptions,” Lance said speaking up and getting their attention.
“Uh Allura we might have a problem…” Hunk coughed as the princess that looked at the trio until the young teen in Shiro’s arms spoke. A familiar anger in the voice but sounded much much younger.
“Takashi...put me down.”
“How the...you're a kid!” Pidge squawked racing up to look at Keith now upon closer inspection was about twelve years old." How did that happen!?”
“How the fuck should I know!?” Keith rages trying to get his brother to put him down on the ground and not hold him up in the air like he was on display.
“Language!” Shiro automatically said use to trying to curve Pidge’s cursing and now was doing it to his again little brother. “Keith how the...why are you so small!?”
“I have no idea!! One minute I was feeling sick and hot the next thing I know I wake up like this!” Keith seethed back.
“Maybe we should all converge to the meeting room and talk there…” Allura said trying to grasp what was going on.
They all sat on the rounded couches with everyone looking at Keith who was grumbling as he sat in Shiro’s lap scowling as much as a twelve year old could with oversized clothing.
Keith had to tighten the cord on his shorts while his black shirt just hung off him loosely.
“Ok, think back Keith, what happened earlier today?” questioned Allura as Keith pushed himself of Shiro’s lap and sat properly on the couch next to him.
Keith rubbed his chin as he thought hard. “I remember getting when we landed, then I volunteered going with Hunk to collect ingredients……”
Hunk nodded in confirmation. “Nothing unusual happened, we just gathered up what we could get and left.”
Coran scratched his head in confusion. “That's it? You didn't get bitten or sprayed by any native life form?”
Keith shook his head."Pretty sure none of that happened… we grabbed the fruits and vegetables and left. I remember getting hungry and eating one of the fruits on the way back.”
Coran narrowed his eyes suspiciously."Hmm…. What exactly did this fruit look like?”
The boy shrugged."I dunno, small? Pink and heart shaped… with yellow stripes?”
“Heart shaped you mean one of the peach looking fruits?” Hunk asked as he remembered that was one of the last areas they had picked fruit from before they had headed back to the castle. “Let’s go to the kitchen I put the fruit away I think there were a lot of similar ones so we can double check.”
“Yes I think that would be the best plan of action then I can really see what it was Keith had eaten.” Coran said concerned looking at the Red Paladin who was folding his tiny arms, it would’ve been a cute sight if there wasn’t a scowl on his face.
“We warned you about not eating anything that wasn’t cooked Keith,” Shiro said looking at the younger Paladin by his side who looked away, ” I thought Lance was a pretty good example.”
“Hey I’m right here! And that was just once!” Lance shouted indignant, "You do something once and others never let you forget it…”
“Story of your life Lance,” Pidge smirked as she skipped away from the Blue Paladin who made a move to grab her as they stood up with the others heading to the kitchen, Keith was about to walk on his own when Shiro picked him up and threw him over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.
“Takashi…” Keith said his voice dripping with venom glaring at his brother.
“What? This is faster, and it’ll be just like before,”Shiro couldn’t help but laugh much to Keith’s embarrassment as he wiggled and struggled to get down from Shiro’s shoulder." Stop squirming Keith it will be faster just to carry you so we can figure out what fruit you ate.”
“Not until you put me down!” Keith growled trying to kick Shiro’s face as his own was red from embarrassment from being hauled up like a sack of potatoes.
“Was he like this when he was that age?” Lance couldn’t help but ask remembering his own time when he was twelve, always running around with his siblings and family playing with them.
“Nah he was quieter, his body may be twelve but it’s obvious he still has his eighteen year old brain.” Shiro replied as he had to tighten his grip on the squirming twelve year old. “Keith stop or I’ll hold you upside down until we get to the kitchen.”
Keith stilled and scowled, knowing Shiro he would actually go through with his threat if he didn’t stop. So Keith settled being carried over the Black Paladin’s shoulder while Pidge, Lance and Hunk couldn’t help but grin at the sight at the pouty looking Keith as they continued down the hall. They got into the kitchen where Hunk walked over to the panels and opened it up showing all the food they had collected from the variety of planets. There was a panel on the side where it would spin and switch to different shelves so that they knew what from came from what planet.
“Here’s the stuff we gathered today.” Hunk said turning the fridge shelves a few times until it showed all the fruits and vegetables he and Keith had gathered. “Do you recognize the fruit you ate Keith?”
Shiro held Keith in his arms since he was a lot shorter now and couldn’t see all the shelves, his indigo eyes scanned the display before he saw a hint of pink near the back of the fridge. Urging Shiro to move closer he pushed some of the fruit aside until he pulled out the one that he had eaten, it had the same symbols and shape from the one he had consumed and showed it to Coran and the others.
“This was the one.” Keith said as Coran took it and examined it.
“Well if I recall correctly generally this fruit is used from creams and other products for skin care, also a rather effective medical ointment if I do say so myself,” Coran replied as if he was recalling a fond memory. “A sort of younger age look if you may, but I never thought the effects could be this drastic.”
“I do recall reading that this particular fruit is awfully potent so only a small bit is used, but Keith ate an entire fruit!” pointed out Allura. “Will he be alright?”
“Will WE be alright?!” panicked Lance.
“We ate those in the pudding!” exclaimed Pidge equally concerned.
Hunk quickly pulled up the screen on the fruits he was using earlier and found what he was looking for, before heaving a sigh of relief. “Ok good news and bad news.”
Everyone looked to him at attention.
“The good news is, only the skin contains the youthful properties, not the fruit itself. Since, I skinned those particular fruits when I made the pudding we should be safe.”
Everyone heaved big sighs of relief simultaneously.
“And the bad news?” asked Shiro, furrowing his eyebrows.
“Well….” started Hunk reading the cautionary footnote. “Warning: Consumption of the skin and fruit will result in mass cell rejuvenation within the next, um….”
Hunk paused as he mentally converted the Altean timing to human timing. “48 hrs….well 44 hrs, if we factor in the time Keith ate the fruit…”
“Wait so I’m going to get smaller!?” Keith exclaimed horrified. “This happened within an hour!!”
“Uh...he has a point if he get’s any younger he could revert to being a toddler,” Shiro grimaced, “that’ll just leave us in a bit of trouble not only with Voltron but having a child around when we’re still clearing out the castle.”
“Hunk is there a way to I don’t know reverse it? Was the fruit itself that made Keith young or do you think it could be what was in the soup that combined with the raw peach fruit thing he ate that sped up the process?” Pidge asked as she looked at the fruit as Hunk browsed through the information and frowned.
“Well there is a list of ingredients you shouldn’t mix with the fruit but I have honestly no idea what they are, ” Hunk replied. “There’s pictures of what shouldn’t be mixed so I can go through that and we can figure out how to reverse this before Keith gets any younger.”
“I’ll help you Hunk, I know if not most of the plants of the planet given the many times I was brought here with us here it shouldn’t take long to grab all the ingredients you used for your lunch meal and the pudding.” Coran said as Pidge nodded.
“I’ll help too and see if I can look up the chemical combinations, I updated the laptop with the information the castle holds so it should be pretty up to date with any food we come across and tell us if we can use it to reverse this...situation.” Pidge said before grinning. “At least I’m not the youngest anymore!”
“입 닥쳐(shut the hell up)!” Keith growled making a face at Pidge as the other Paladins stared at the miniaturized Red Paladin.
“What was that he just spoke?” Allura asked fascinated as Keith continued to glare at the green paladin before Shiro sighed and pinched Keith’s face eliciting a painful yelp.
“That’s Korean, Keith rarely speaks it unless he’s really mad,” Shiro explained holding Keith’s cheek for a few more seconds before letting go, Keith rubbed his face. “It’s one of the many languages back on Earth just like how Lance slips into Spanish when he’s flirting or cursing at Keith.”
“How the heck do you know I’m cursing at Keith in spanish?” Lance asked looking at Shiro warily,” and I don’t flirt with mullet head!”
“I never said you flirted with Keith specifically,and your tone usually gives it away,” Shiro replied shrugging as he adjusted Keith in his grip, Keith had always been small for his age, when he was twelve he actually looked 9 or ten. “So we just have to wait until you guys figure out what can reverse this?”
“Pretty much it’s not like we can continuously test different combinations for all we know that could speed it up even more or have other effects,” Hunk replied as he was already sorting through the list of ingredients of what he used and what could possibly reverse Keith’s condition.
“I’d like Keith to go to the medbay and just do a check up just in case there are more internal effects of the fruit, ” Allura said as she looked at Keith frowning concerned. “And maybe find some more appropriate clothing on him.”
“I’ll go with Hunk!” volunteered Coran, stepping forward.
“Right,” nodded Shiro in agreement.“Pidge and I will come too. Lance, you stay back here with Allura and watch over Keith.”
“I don't need a babysitter!” protested Keith, folding his arms only to get a warning look from Shiro.
“Ok, let's go!” announced Shiro as his team nodded and headed out while Allura took Keith's hand and led him down to the medbay area with Lance.
“Ok here's the ingredients we need,” informed Hunk showing the list to the others as soon as they arrived at the spot where Hunk said they harvested the vegetation.
“Let’s hurry and gather these ingredients before Keith shrinks anymore than he already has,” Shiro said as he looked over the list. “Hunk do you remember what ingredients you used when you were making the lunch today?”
“Yeah it’s still pretty fresh in my mind and with Coran we should be able to figure out what to use to try and fix this,” Hunk said as he stopped by a tree and picked a few fruit from it, crossing it off the list.
“That’s good, still what were the chances of someone actually de-aging like that,” Pidge said as she picked several fruits off of some bushes nearby. “Then again with our luck you can never be too sure.”
“True, we’ll just have to take it easy for now and focus on getting Keith back to normal,” Shiro replied glancing at the list and nodding as he tossed the fruit he gathered into the growing pile. “Found a few more Hunk.”
“Great! We’ll take as much as we can but still leave some, it’s best we gather as much as we can so we don’t have to keep making trips, besides this is going to be all experiments and we have to get it right the first time, ” Hunk said, “I don’t want to imagine what else could happen if we don’t fix this.”
“There he goes Lance!” yelled Allura as a small figure darted past her.
“I see him!” exclaimed Lance sprinting after it. “Keith! Quit being a butt!!”
“Make me!” yelled Keith over his shoulder, leaping out of the way of Lance who dived at him.
“For the love of-! Just sit in damn pod!! It’s not gonna hurt!”
“NO!!! It’s boring!!! And it’s cold!!!” retorted Keith running into the lounge where Allura was lying in wait.
“Got you!” declared Allura pouncing on Keith, sending them both into a tumble as Allura held him in a hold. “Keith! This is for your own good!”
“Noooo!!!!” wailed the boy, trying to struggle before giving up, exhausted as he pouted.
Allura heaved a tired sigh as she held the boy closer to her when she suddenly felt something warm and wet coating her arm. The princess slowly looked down to see Keith hanging his mouth open, let his saliva drool all over Allura’s hand, making her shiver in disgust.
“EW!!” she squealed jumping and shaking her arm, inadvertently letting go as Keith seized his chance to scramble way only to be foiled by a blanket being thrown over him as Lance bundled him up and threw the struggling bundle over his shoulder with Keith’s muffled cries of protest coming from it.
“Lemme go!!” came Keith’s muffled voice from the blankets. “I don’t wanna go into the stupid pods!”
“Hell no you little brat! You’re only be in there for bit and then you’re out!” Lance panted, keeping a good grip on Keith before looking at Allura. “Holy crow what happened!? One minute he was walking fine even if he was sulking and then out of nowhere he tries running away!?”
Allura was staring at her arm with the saliva on it with disgust before turning primly to look at Lance holding Keith tightly in his blanket prison. They walked back to the med bay stopping by the kitchen so that Allura could grab some towels and wipe her arm off as she thought about her red paladin’s sudden change in attitude. He did seem fine even a bit reluctant to go to the pods but that was probably due to his new size, the sudden need to run away from the pods was something she did not expect.
“My only explanation is...the longer Keith remains the age he is currently at and possibly even younger, if we do not figure out how to stop this his mind will catch up to his body and revert back to his mentality at that age,” Allura finally said.
“Didn’t know he was such a brat at this age,” Lance grumbled jostling Keith a bit making the younger paladin yelp.
“I doubt you were a perfect child at that age Lance,” Allura said smiling while Lance mocked gasped at her.
“I was a perfect angel to my dear mama and family thank you very much!” Lance said insulted, though he could hear a snort coming from the blanket that Keith didn’t even believe that himself. “You be quiet since you’re hardly an angel right now mullet.”
“I don’t have a mullet you meanie!” Keith argued even if he was muffled. “And I can’t breath in this blanket!”
“Fine,” Lance huffed as he pushed the blanket down to where Keith’s head popped up and he gasped for air before sending a weak glare at Lance. “Happy?”
“You suck,” Keith replied giving Lance a raspberry.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” retorted Lance rolling his eyes as he tucked Keith under his body when he suddenly frowned. “Did you just get lighter?”
“Careful, Pidge!” yelled Shiro from the ground as he watch the young girl high up in a tree shimmying along a thin branch tossing down the fruit growing along to a sack Shiro held open.
“Sure! Just one more!” Pidge yelled back getting to the end of the branch, reaching out for one last over-hanging fruit.
“Almost there….Got it!” said the girl triumphantly grabbing the fruit. “Shiro, Catch me!”
“Wait what?!” exclaimed Shiro bewilderedly when Pidge suddenly let herself teeter and plummet.
Instinctively, Shiro dropped the sack he was holding and shuffled about with his arms open, trying to accurately position himself under her.
“Oof!” he grunted, successfully managing to catch the youngest member in his arms giving Pidge a look while the girl flashed him a cheeky grin.
“My hero~” said Pidge cheekily batting her eyes while cupping her face.
“Are you finished?” asked Shiro dryly as Pidge nodded in response, still smiling as the Black Paladin placed her on the ground. “Come on, quit fooling around! We got what we came for!”
“Aye-aye, Captain!” saluted Pidge picking up the sack and dropping in the fruit she picked before hauling after Shiro.
Allura was looking over the readings from the pod as Lance stood right next to her, though his eyes kept straying to where Keith was in an induced sleep to keep him inside. They had run several tests, including blood tests so it had been about two hours since the team had separated to try and cure their Paladin.
“So anything unusual?” Lance asked trying to read Altean, he recognized a few symbols but other than that he couldn’t make much out of the readings that were being displayed in front of them.
“No, thankfully nothing seems out of place for Keith,” Allura said moving a few screens that showed the scanning, “which is a relief.”
“You’re telling me,” Lance said walking to the pod Keith was in as Allura pressed a button opening the pod up.
Lance waved away some of the cold air that came with the pod and waited to see a mop of black hair appear, he frowned when he couldn’t see anything. Concerned and trying to press down the growing panic he moved forward feeling around for Keith he heard a small groan and got to his knees in time to catch Keith though both his and Allura’s eyes widened when they saw the state of the red Paladin.
“Quiznak…” they both cursed as bleary indigo eyes blinked looking up at Lance confused.
“Allura how is Keith!?” Shiro asked dropping off the food over into the kitchen where Hunk, Pidge and Coran were quickly working together to find a way to reverse the aging.
He froze at the door when Allura and Lance looked nervously at each other as Lance was holding said paladin he was looking for.
“Keith?” Shiro asked in disbelief.
“H-hey Shiro uh…” Lance started before Allura cleared her throat making Shiro look at the Princess.
“Well...he's perfectly healthy there isn't anything wrong with him internally,” Allura coughed while Lance put down the squirming child on the floor and tiny feet ran across the floor over to the door.
“Takashi!” Keith voice shouted happily seeing the Black Paladin.
Shiro still in shock knelt down and soon had an armful of Keith….a much younger Keith in his arms who wrapped his arms around his neck and blinked when he got a better look at Shiro.
“Hey Takashi why is your hair white? I thought mom said you couldn't dye your hair? And where's you get the cool scar?” Keith asked poking Shiro’s face,”and is that a robot arm!?”
“GUYS….” Shiro practically begged as his voice cracked waiting for an explanation as he turned towards Allura and Lance.
Keith noticed them too he was actually more focused on Shiro when he saw him walk in and didn't see the other two very well.
“You know the pretty lady Shiro?” Keith asked innocently.
“Yes and the pretty lady is going to explain what exactly happened!” Shiro replied ignoring the fact he had just called Allura pretty to her face, even if the princess had a bit of pink dusting her cheeks.
“In the past 2 hours, he went from 12 years old to about 6 years old….” informed Lance as he watched little Keith excitedly swing from Shiro’s metal arm.
“We believe the de-aging has slowed down a bit but he's still getting younger as time goes on,” added Allura in concern.
“Translation: If we don't give Keith that antidote soon, by the end of 48 hrs, he’ll be de-aging himself out of existence…” chimed in Lance, furrowing his brows.
A look of horror crossed Shiro’s face as he looked down at Keith who appeared oblivious to the situation as he smiled back at his brother.
“We’re really in space?” Keith asked amazed as he sat on Shiro’s shoulders walking around the castle. “And this is really a spaceship? It’s huge!”
“Y-yeah, hey Keith what was the last thing you remember?” Shiro asked as he held tightly onto his brother’s legs dangling over his shoulders while Keith was looking at everything as they passed by the control room.
“Uh...dunno...it’s kinda hazy and blurry? I think I was taking a nap?” Keith replied looking down at Shiro as he tried thinking of what he was doing before waking up to two strangers and his brother. “That’s it.”
“I see, alright.” Shiro sighed as they continued walking, they had past the control center where Shiro proved to them that they were in space when he showed him the starmap of the planets and galaxies around.
Allura had told Shiro she was going to check on the others and said that she will call for him when they figure out something, she had Lance go with Shiro just in case Keith tried to escape again and run away. When Shiro was told that he had to cover his mouth with his free hand and try not to laugh trying to imagine Lance and Allura chasing after a bratty twelve year old Keith, they figured the best way to prevent that was to give him a tour of the castle. They didn’t want him to go outside since he could run off and get lost, then they would have more trouble.
They had showed him the observatory which showed the greenery and plantation on the outside of the planet it had Keith staring surprised and eagerly prodded Shiro he wanted to go outside but Shiro was adamant in refusal saying it was too dangerous.
“What’s in that big room over there?” Keith asked pointing to the entrance of the training area.
“That’s where we train together and against the droids.” Lance explained.
“There’s more robots here?” Keith asked as they stepped inside the large area. “Wow, this place is probably bigger than both our rooms back at home, so you train here by fighting? Can I see?”
Shiro opened his mouth to say no when Lance smirked and took out his bayard Keith’s eyes on the little object before he saw it transform into his weapon. “Sure why not?”
“Lance…” Shiro said warningly.
“It’ll be fine Shiro, you'll be up in the observation deck with Keith,” Lance replied as he stepped out further from the two into the middle of the room while Shiro carried Keith to the safety of the control room.
Upon giving the signal, Altean drones began rising out from the floor and rushed at Lance, who opened fire as he dodged their blows.
Keith bounced up and down excitedly looking down from the window while Shiro whistled.
‘Looks like Lance has really been working on his footwork and maneuvers…’
“Hey what does this button do?” asked Keith pushing a random button on the panel.
It was too late, the laser blasters were activated and began firing at Lance who quickly used one of the drones to block as he quickly deployed his shield and began running around the room doing his best to dodge and block.
“Shirooooo!!!!! Do something!!!!!” cried Lance, narrowly avoiding a shot to his head.
Shiro quickly moved to the panel and looked over the buttons as he tried to turn off the lasers while Keith was looking worried at Lance who was still barely dodging the lasers as his face was pressed against the glass. His face caked with worry as he watched Lance roll out of the way from the onslaught of lasers, he cried out when Lance’s arm got singe by one of the lasers.
“Shiro! He got hurt!” Keith said scrambling down off the panel but Shiro grabbed him before he could try to go down, he slammed his hand on the emergency stop, which turned off the lasers much to Lance’s relief.
He tuned his bayard back to its hidden form as he tried to catch his breath. Shiro came down the control room the two quickly left Shiro putting Keith down as the child clung to Shiro’s legs as his brother looked over Lance. He removed his jacket and took a look at the marks.
“It's not too bad probably just need some salve,” Shiro said relieved. “There wasn't any other spots you got hit?”
“No I managed to deflect and avoid most of the damage, what the hell happened?!” Lance asked and Shiro sighed as he pushed Keith forward making the blue Paladin look at Keith who was shifting nervously.
“Keith, what do we say?” Shiro said sternly.
“I'm sorry for making the lasers attack you,” Keith said keeping his head down.
Normally Lance would have gone off on Keith, saying he did it on purpose which would quickly escalate into another one of their usual arguments, but this time Lance couldn't bring himself to yell at kid Keith.
Lance sighed as he knelt down in front of the boy and ruffled his mop of a hairdo.
“Hey don't worry about it kiddo! Just be careful next time ok?” said Lance giving Keith a reassuring smile, earning back a smile from the boy.
Keith gave a hearty nod before running back to Shiro’s side smiling happily as the man placed a hand on the boy’s head, looking approvingly.
“Can we see more of the castle?” asked Keith with big fascinated eyes.
Shiro was about to answer but Lance beat him to it.
“Hey, Keith? Wanna ride around in a giant robot space lion?”
Keith looked at the Blue Paladin as if he just met Santa Claus himself.
“So there's five lions and each one is a different color and you each pilot one?” Keith asked as this time Lance was carrying him on his shoulders.
“Yep and together they form one huge giant robot called Voltron!” Lance said grinning,” and your brother is the leader of the group so he and I can fly in our lions all the time.”
“Of course Shiro’s the leader he's the best pilot his school has,” Keith states matter of fact,” he's always wanted to fly!”
“Now he flies a giant space Lion!” Lance laughed as they headed to the hangers though Shiro looked like he wanted to grab Keith, but his brother looked so happy being told he could ride in one of the lions.
“Lance just be careful…” Shiro gripes,”I'll follow you in the black Lion…”
“Shiro it'll be fine, I won't go too far out into the atmosphere and I'll stay by the planet’s surface,” Lance said grinning, for once happy he without the risk of his lion being stolen or Zarkon attacking.
Shiro still looked dubious as they were passing the other Lion’s hangers, when Lance felt a grip on his hair making the Cuban stop.
“Ow hey there watch the hair Keith,” Lance winced as he stopped. ”Keith?”
Shiro looked over to see Keith staring at one of the hangers just as they passed by.
“Which lion is in this one?” Keith asked quietly.
“Uh that'll be Red’s hanger,” Lance replied. “ Why?”
“I felt like there was something in the back of my head and I hear loud purring…” Keith replied tilting his head a bit. “She misses me? I know her?”
Lance and Shiro exchanged knowing looks as Keith jumped down from the Paladin’s shoulders as he ran towards the Red Lion, looking up at it with eyes filled with wonder.
“Woah…..” he breathed as the other two caught up with him.
Lance and Shiro said nothing since it was apparent that Keith's bond with the Red Lion is still evident. Keith went up to the giant Lion’s paw and scampered on to it, placing his cheek against the cool metal of her leg. He could hear the lion purr louder in his mind, it was soothing, he felt comfort, and affection.
“Hi Red… I’m Keith..”whispered the small boy to the robot as if gently talking to a pet.
He liked this robot and he could feel the robot liking him back. Keith giggled a little as he rubbed his face against the leg before yawning and slowly closing his eyes.
Lance and Shiro slowly tiptoed over to Keith to find out the little boy had fallen asleep, a small comforting smile on his face as he cuddled against the Lion's Leg.
“Red~...”yawned Keith pleasantly.
“Daaaw~” cooed Lance softly, tilting his head to one side.
“At least he wore himself out, so we don’t have to worry about him running around,” Shiro said relieved though he had to smile at the sight of his brother sleeping peacefully without any worries. “We should probably move him to his bed it can’t be comfortable sleeping like that.”
Shiro went to grab Keith but the younger male made a whining sound wanting to stay with the Red Lion, the Lion sharing the same sentiments as it surprised both the Black and Blue Paladin when it let out a low growl. Then they watched as the Lion actually lie down, it’s large metallic tail wrapping around its paws as she kept Keith close to her.
“Well, looks like Red doesn’t want Keith to leave anytime soon,” Lance said rubbing his head as he stepped forward, he held his hands up when when could hear the warning rumble from the lion. “I’m not going to take him Red.”
Lance knew the Lion didn’t have to turn her head to look at him but he could almost feel her stare, when she deemed that Lance was telling the truth she moved her tail letting Lance get close. He took off his large jacket and draped it around Keith to keep him warm since it got pretty cold in the hangers sometimes.
“I’ll stay with him,”offered Lance climbing onto the paw and leaning his back against Red’s jaw. “Why don't you go and check on how that antidote is coming along?”
Shiro nodded in agreement before turning to leave, patting Keith's head on the way out.
Coran rubbed his chin. “Hmmm…Let's see… this herb here should neutralize the effects…” he muttered plucking some blue grass like plants from the pile. “And this fruit here has encourages bone growth… but will it affect age?....”
“So how do we know this antidote won't kill Keith?” asked Pidge staring at the various concoctions that Hunk and Coran had brewed using the different ingredients.
“Don't do that Pidge….” muttered Hunk worriedly.
Coran scrolled through the recipe for the antidote and clicked his tongue. “Those Altean herbalists and their jargon…”
“Anything new?” Shiro asked walking into the kitchen but had to step back when he was hit with some very strong smells and all the concoctions surrounding both the counter and the table. “It's like a whole science lab here,”
“I'm afraid not Shiro, we have some good theories about what to do with Keith but we only get one shot at this and trying to make sure this is right is rather troublesome,” Coran replied frowning as he chopped the grass and sprinkled it into a bubbling pink bowl and a small explosion happened making Hunk, Pidge and Coran who were close to duck on the other side of the counter. “Hmm looks stable…”
“Alright I think I baked these right,” Hunk said pulling a tray out of some purple and red baked apples. “You really think mashing these will help?”
“The properties in those apples are suppose to help stabilize the growth. If we mash them it might make them act faster,” Coran said. “Or does this say we’re suppose to cut and boil them?”
“Where is Keith?” Allura asked noticing that the child paladin was missing. “He's not running around the castle is he?”
She did not want a repeat of earlier trying to get Keith into the pods.
“He's with the Red Lion he must be worn out since he's napping in the hanger,” Shiro said chuckling when he saw Allura’s relieved face, “Lance volunteered to stay with him.”
“Wait Lance actually willingly stayed with Keith?” Pidge asked nearly dropping a bowl of blue like sauce if Hunk hadn't dived for it.. “Seriously?”
“They can get along when the time calls for it.” Shiro said. “And yes he willingly stayed behind, maybe Keith being a kid makes it easier for Lance.”
“No surprise there, Lance has a big family, with a little brother and sister too,” explained Hunk, concentrating on mashing the apple like stuff before mixing in with the pink stuff followed by the blue stuff.
There was a small hiss as the mixture released a bit of purple mist before settling into a pudding like substance with colorful swirls.
“Looks like a melted clown…” noted Pidge uneasily looking over the edge of the bowl. “How do we know it works?”
As if to answer Pidge’s question, Coran plucked a seed from one of the fruits and placed it on a plate. Then he scooped a blob from the pudding and dropped it on the seed. Suddenly, the blob wiggled before a young sapling emerged from the seed.
“Okay well we know it works, kinda?” Pidge said poking the sapling waiting for some sort of implosion or for it to combust, “at least this is progress then from what we first started.” She made a glance at the pile of saplings that either looked burnt, withered, petrified, or mutated. “Much better, but do we know if this’ll get him to the right age?”
“It should in theory, I think depending on how much he consumes that should build his age right back up to where he is!” Coran replied enthusiastically bright and cheerful.
“Or it could make him have a bad reaction and he stays that age,” Pidge groaned.
“Pidge please we’re trying to cure our friend? I know you’re worried but so are we and everyone,” Hunk asked as he looked at the pudding. “As least it's not some weird foul smelling soup, I know how hard it can be to get kids to eat if it’s pudding it should be easier.”
“Well if I’m reading this right this should be exactly what we need,” Coran said reading over the instructions once more. “I don’t believe I’ve forgotten anything hmmm...then again half of this is in altean and the other is in that weird jargon of the herbalist...I told Alfor they should’ve made a dictionary for them.”
“Can’t believe it aged Keith so fast though,” Shiro grimaced. “Within four hours he was reduced to almost a quarter of his real age, are we sure he won’t de-age any further?”
“I believe due to the sheer potency of the fruit he ate and taking into account how young he is the properties of the fruit must’ve gone through his whole body much quicker than usual,” Coran pointed thinking. “Which is probably why he was reduced to such a young age, by this time the effects should be slowing down and won’t be as drastic.”
“We can only hope so,” Allura sighed shaking her head. “When should we give it to Keith? I’m almost afraid if we let him sleep he’ll be younger when we find him again.”
“If Coran’s theory is right then he should still be the same age, and he just fell asleep. Lance would let us know if he got younger again,” Shiro assured. “Right now let’s just make sure that there’s nothing we missed regarding the cure for Keith.”
“We checked and double checked before we started, Coran would’ve told us if we missed anything.” Hunk said. “On a brighter note since we were learning about all these fruits and what to do with them I took the leftovers we didn’t use and made alien fruit tarts!”
Everyone gave Hunk a look.
“Relax, I made sure to research this time!” he said taking a bite of the fruit tart to prove its safety, no one noticing a piece of the tart falling into the mixture and sinking out of sight.
Keith rubbed his eyes as he clung to Lance who carried him out of the hangar to the dining area where the others waited for him.
“Hey, little buddy~ Time to get up,” called Lance gently, patting Keith's back.
The toddler stubbornly shook his head as he hugged Lance’s neck tighter, wanting to go back to sleep.
“Daaaaw~” went Hunk and Pidge this time, tilting their heads.
“Oh… I feel terrible for waking the dear up…” lamented Allura softly, melting at the sight.
“How'd you get Keith away from Red?” Shiro asked amused as he watched Lance trying to coax Keith to wake up. The tired toddler whined and tried to bury himself against Lance so he could sleep more.
“What do you mean get Keith away from Red? You were taking him near the lions?”
Allura asked concerned looking at Lance and Shiro.
“Lance was just going to give Keith a ride in Blue but as we were walking past Red’s hanger Keith could feel her calling towards him,” Shiro explained making Coran and Allura’s eyes widen surprised.
“Fascinating, the bond remained strong even after Keith is the age he is now and with no memory of the lions.” Coran said looking at the toddler closely.
“He's as stubborn as the twins when they didn't want to wake up from their naps,” Lance sighed fondly “I told her I was taking Keith to hopefully get back to normal. “She may not be Blue but even I could hear the warning growls she gave.”
“Guess the Red Lion grew more protective of Keith seeing him as a child,” Allura said. “But we do need him to wake up and eat if we want him back to normal.”
“Come on Keith you have to wake up, otherwise you won't get your snack,” Lance said rubbing Keith’s back.
“Snack time?” Keith yawned as he rubbed his eye adorably, looking at Lance. The Blue Paladin smiled as Keith still had Lance’s jacket wrapped around him like a blanket.
“Yes snack time, you're probably hungry so it's time for your snack, okay?” Lance replied as Keith mumbled but nodded.
“Okay…” He said tiredly and Lance couldn't help but lean forward and brush his lips against Keith’s forehead.
Keith wrinkled his face as Lance placed him down on a chair as Hunk slid a bowl to Shiro.
Taking a spoon, the black paladin scooped a spoonful of the pudding and held it out to Keith who eyed it cautiously before pursing his lips and shaking his head.
“Come on Keith, it's pudding, you love pudding!” pleaded Shiro a little making Keith shake his head even more.
“It looks weird….”
The toddler folded his arms and pursed his lips further.
“Hey, Keith, if you eat it we can go play with Red~” bargained Lance making Keith lighten up and eagerly eat the spoonful of pudding, swallowing it in one gulp.
Everyone except Hunk looked at Lance in surprise.
“What? I’ve dealt with kids before.”
“How are you feeling Keith?” asked Shiro in concern as Keith smacked his lips.
“Hmmm…tastes like mango and…. Sushi…” commented the boy after some thought.
“Ew,” was the general response to that statement, especially with Hunk who made a face and could only imagine the horror the two combined flavors had.
Keith looked at Shiro still holding the pudding like food in hand as Shiro seemed to be waiting for something.
“Maybe it takes a while for the effects to kick in? Keith did eat the peach on his way back to the castle. “Pidge said watching the toddler squirm a bit in his seat. “And only started feeling the effects a bit later.”
“That's a good theory,” Hunk said. “I mean we did everything right so the aging should stop and we just have to wait for the pudding to take effect, however long that takes.”
“Can I go play with Red now?” Keith asked poking Shiro’s face since that was the closest part of his brother. “Or do I have to eat more of the stuff?”
“No no you don't have to eat anymore,” Shiro said quickly pushing the desert away from him. He didn't want Keith to eat too much of the pudding and get too old as he lifted Keith out of the chair and put him on the floor turning to talk to Coran, Hunk and Pidge.
“So we just have to wait it out pretty much?” Shiro asked not liking that idea since he was already on edge with the chance his brother just disappeared on him.
“I'm afraid so, we only got one chance and we used it, so just have to sit back and observe really,” Coran said playing with his mustache making Shiro sigh.
The toddler walked over to Lance and tugged on his jacket.
“Back to Red now?” Keith asked looking at Lance surprising the Blue Paladin, he figured Keith would've asked Shiro to go with him.
“Why not ask Shiro?” Lance asked bending down to Keith’s height.”Wouldn't you want him to go with you?”
“It's not nice to bother grown ups when they talk to each other,” Keith said as serious As a six year old could be. “Besides I wanna go with you.”
“Oh?” Lance asked grinning and decided to tease the child a bit. “And why’s that Keith? Cuz you like me better than Shiro?”
He had to hold back laughing at the sour look Keith.”I dun like anyone better than my brother but you feel nice to be around...and you have pretty eyes,” The child stated bluntly.
Lance looked genuinely taken aback at the response, unsure how to respond.
Hunk made his way to Lance’s side and solemnly patted his shoulder. “You really do, buddy.”
Lance blinked a few times. “Thanks… Keith…”
Keith beamed brightly before tugging Lance’s arm. “Come on!!! Let's go!!!”
“WHOOOO-HOOOOOOOO!!!!!” whooped Keith in Lance’s lap as they flew over the jungle treetops.
Lance was pleased and rather surprised that the Red Lion had given the Blue Paladin permission to pilot her. She was usually quite stubborn, like her pilot but Red apparently really wanted to give little Keith a fun time as she maneuvered through the clouds.
“Faster! Faster!" cheered Keith excitedly.
“Hang on!” warned Lance as Red began spinning through the air.
“WHEEEEEEEE~~~~!!!!!!” cheered the two of them, throwing their hands up as if riding a rollercoaster.
“Whoops can't have you falling on your head!” Lance said as he had to quickly grab Keith since there weren't exactly seatbelts in the Lions. Lance was able to hold onto the controls to keep him taking a smooth flight but was still going pretty fast
“But yeah she is amazing just like my precious Blue.”
Keith could hear the proud and satisfying purrs in his head from Red making him giggle joyfully.. “Can Red and the others really fly in space?”
“Why don't you show him Red?” Lance said as he gripped the controls. “Hold on tight Keith and close your eyes!”
Keith gripped Lance’s jacket as tightly as he could as the Blue Paladin turned Red and they shot straight up, they were passing the layers of the planet’s atmosphere. Keith kept his eyes shut as he could feel the force of how fast they were going coming down on him before it just stopped.
“Okay you can open your eyes now,” Lance said as Keith blinked trying to get his eyes to focus before he let out a gasp of amazement.
“There's so many stars…” Keith gasped as he moved towards the screens, seeing the stars so close you could practically touch them, the plant they were on looked like earth but a lot more green with two rings intersecting each other, he could see shooting stars and stray asteroids floating about.
This was nothing compared to the books Shiro would show him,before he turned to Lance. “You get to see this everyday and pilot a lion like Red?” The child asked in wonderment.
“Yep, every day when we’re not fighting bad guys this is what we see most of the time,” Lance replied rather proudly.
“You must be really good if you're piloting the lions, they must be hard since they can talk to you too...” Keith said softly. “Lance, do you think I'll get a chance to pilot Red when I'm bigger? Like how you and Shiro pilot your lions?”
Lance couldn't help but suppress a smirk before ruffling Keith's hair. “I know you will Kiddo~!”
Shiro waited worriedly in the hangar with his Lion who watched him pace about.
Black gave a small rumble.
“What's wrong? Nothing's wrong! My little brother has only been shrunk back to a toddler because of some weird fruit and we only just fed him an experimental antidote with more weird fruit!” exclaimed Shiro folding his arms, trying to keep it together."I’m fine, perfectly fine!”
Black made a motion almost as if rolling her eyes and gave a growl.
“Of course I’m worried! He’s my brother and a member of the team! He’s my responsibility!”
Black made little grumbling sound that sounded a bit like laughter. Shiro frowned at his Lion.
“You are a terrible source of comfort…”
“Well screw you too.”
At that moment, Shiro was alerted to the sound of Red’s hangar, signifying their return.
There was another growl from the black lion that had Shiro narrow his eyes at her.
“And how do YOU know what a mother hen is?” he grumbled walking out of his hanger for another purr rumbled in his head nearly making him trip up. “Not you too with the space dad thing!”
He could distinctly feel his lion was laughing at him again as he quickly left the black lion and got into Red’s hanger just in time to see the Red Lion do a barrel roll and then a forward flip before she landed safely into the hanger.
She lowered herself down opening her mouth letting Lance walk out carrying an excited Keith in his arms.
“That was so cool when Red took over and did those last two flips!” Keith said excitedly,”it really was like a roller coaster!”
“She probably just wanted to show off,” Lance replied smiling as once they were out of Red, Keith put his hand on her face still grinning.
“Thank you for the ride Red, it was really fun you're an amazing lion!” Keith said before he giggled when he could hear her preen at the praise before she let out a comforting purr.
“Had fun you two?” Shiro said walking up to them. “It's been a few hours...you still feeling okay Keith? You don't feel warm or anything?”
Thankfully for the two Paladins Keith remained his current age and wasn't getting any younger, which was a good thing. That had to mean the antidote was working even if it was a bit slow.
Keith nodded. “Yep I feel fine Takashi, so what're we doing now? Can we play games?”
“Nope, it's way past your bedtime so we have to wash you up and get you to bed,” Shiro said taking Keith from Lance.
“Awww but I'm not tired!” Keith pouted.
“Lance, Hunk saved you some dinner so I'll put Keith to bed alright?” Shiro said as Keith sighed knowing he couldn't win against his brother.
“Nite nite Lance thanks for taking me flying in Red,” Keith said settling his head on Shiro’s shoulder.
“Nite, nite little guy~” replied Lance waving as Shiro carried the toddler away.
Keith yawned loudly as Shiro tucked the toddler into bed. The little boy hugged Shiro’s arm tightly, smiling as he cuddled into the sheets.
Shiro smiled endearingly at his little brother as he lay down with Keith and closed his eyes, wrapping his other arm around his brother before falling asleep himself.
Shiro shifted a bit on the bed. He moved his hand to feel for the toddler only to feel a much larger body.
The man instinctively popped his eyes open and looked down to a mess of black hair sticking out from underneath the sheets and Keith's familiar teenage silhouette.
Keith gave a small groan as he stirred.
“Keith? You ok?”
“Ugh… Shiro?” Keith replied except he didn't sound like himself.
Shiro’s eyes grew incredibly wide as Keith sat up, the covers slipping off him.
Keith was back as a teenager alright, although something was definitely off as Shiro glanced down at his brother… if he could still call him that.
“Guuuuuuuys!!!!!!!" hollered Shiro loudly, his voice travelling down the halls