Keith can’t help but feel like an idiot, standing in the middle of the training room with his mouth still forming itself around the words begin training level and no sound to show for it. He’d come here because he figured he could work out some frustration, but having no voice means not being able to give voice commands, and no voice commands means no easily-accessible way to activate the room. Which he would have known would happen if he’d taken two seconds to think about it before storming off.
Realizing that doesn’t make him feel any less pissed off about it, though. He’s just starting to consider the merits of punching a wall instead of a robot trainer when Shiro lets himself into the room and slots himself at Keith’s back, chin coming to rest on Keith’s shoulder. His hands find Keith’s, clenched into fists, and smooth them out, linking their fingers in the process.
“Just stop and breathe,” he murmurs, and Keith snorts voicelessly at that. Shiro squeezes his hands and waits.
Keith gives an exaggerated sigh before shutting his eyes and focusing on counting his breaths, slowing them down and deepening them until his chest doesn’t feel quite so tight and like it’s about to explode.
“That’s better,” Shiro says warmly, and Keith ruthlessly squashes an echo of the warm, pleased feeling he usually gets from Shiro’s praise. He doesn’t deserve that. Just because he took a couple minutes to pay attention to his breathing doesn’t make this situation any better, and it won’t be until they fix the stupid medical pods that wouldn’t even be broken if Keith could do his fucking job.
“Okay.” Shiro finally lets go of him and turns him around so they’re facing each other. “What level did you want?”
Keith holds up three fingers, and Shiro gives the order to the training room for him. He doesn’t leave Keith alone in the room after that, but he does get out of the way, heading to one of the far corners and leaning up against the wall so he can watch.
Keith does his best to ignore Shiro’s presence, to clear out his head so there’s no room for anything in the world but his physical body and the next few seconds’ worth of motion. His attacks are aggressive, too much so, expending way too much energy for not enough payout, which isn’t a good strategy for a fight, but it’s great for burning out the frustration that still feels like it’s trying to eat him from the inside out.
He thinks it’s only been a couple minutes when the robot gets in a glancing blow to his side, and Shiro’s voice rings out, ordering the room to end the simulation. Keith spins around and aims a glare at Shiro that he thinks communicates pretty clearly that he wasn’t done so what the hell, but Shiro just shakes his head and starts making his way to the center of the room to meet Keith. “You’ve done enough. Don’t want you to get hurt,” he says, which is such bullshit. Keith’s side barely hurts. He’ll get over it.
But Shiro sighs and brushes his left hand lightly over the bruising on Keith’s neck. “Just humor me, okay?”
Keith purses his lips for a moment, thinking about fighting it, but – with the way Shiro’s looking at him, soft and concerned, it just doesn’t seem worth the argument. Instead, he lets out another exaggerated sigh and heads for the showers.
After a moment, he realizes that Shiro’s still standing where he left him, and twists around to look at him questioningly. “Wasn’t sure you wanted me to follow,” Shiro says by way of explanation, and Keith rolls his eyes because come on, Takashi. He’s not nearly annoyed enough with him to make a wet, naked Shiro an unappealing addition to his shower.
Shiro chuckles quietly at the look on Keith’s face before catching up. “How do you feel? You’re still not having any trouble breathing, right?”
Never has Keith wanted so badly to tell him to quit worrying already. Trying to force the sound through his throat just makes him cough, though, and coughing makes Shiro stop walking and wrap an arm around Keith’s middle, helping him stay upright until he’s done.
“Maybe I should take you back to the infirmary.”
Keith twists his head so he can glare at Shiro.
“I’m just worried,” Shiro says. “I don’t want something to happen to you before we can get you into a pod.”
Keith just grabs Shiro’s arm and starts pulling him firmly in the direction of the showers again. Shiro lets him, falling back into step with him, and he doesn’t try to object or change his mind again. At least it’s not a long walk; Alteans need to clean up after working out, too.
Keith strips out of his clothes quickly, balling them up and tossing them into a wall chute as he goes. By the time he’s dry again, there’ll be clean replacements for him. Or maybe they’ll just be the same ones; they’re still not completely sure how the laundry system works.
Shiro’s not as quick, only managing to have removed his shirt by the time Keith’s done. Of course, the fact that he’s just kind of just staring at Keith when Keith turns around to check on him probably doesn’t help. He blushes immediately when he realizes he’s been caught, and Keith wonders for a second if this is about to turn into a really different kind of shower than he’d planned on. He’s pretty sure he could be okay with that, but Shiro’s expression just shifts from mildly embarrassed back to concerned again.
“You know this wasn’t your fault, right?” Shiro asks softly. “If we thought those people were going to be a danger, they never would have been in the castle in the first place.”
Yeah, well, maybe we’re all terrible judges of character, Keith wants to say, but he can’t. He starts to turn instead to go to the line of showerheads, but Shiro grasps hold of his wrist, stopping him.
“You just got caught in the crossfire.” Shiro’s gaze flicks down to Keith’s torso again, which is peppered over with a few bruises that he might have failed to disclose when he was supposed to be evaluated in the infirmary. (In retrospect, that might’ve been what Shiro was looking at earlier.) “You shouldn’t have been the only person there to keep an eye on them. We’ll figure out new protocols for visitors in the future, but right now, you just need to know that you shouldn’t blame yourself.”
Keith raises his eyebrows at Shiro, trying to convey are you done yet? without any actual words.
“God, you’re stubborn,” Shiro mutters before finally letting go of Keith’s arm. “Okay, fine. Get cleaned up. You can get some rest afterward. And don’t give me that look, I can still take you back to the infirmary.”
Keith heaves out a pointed sigh but doesn’t try to fight it anymore because if he knows Shiro, that’s not an empty threat.
The actual shower is pretty peaceful after that. Shiro doesn’t stop being incredibly obvious about worrying, but at least he doesn’t say anything. It’s a nice reprieve, and Keith enjoys it and the feeling of hot water soothing some of the ache in his body. Shiro grabs the soap before Keith can and is insistent about helping, but he’s distinctly chaste about it. Which is fine. This isn’t really a good time for anything more, and Keith’s not sure he’d be up to it anyway.
Afterwards, Shiro guides him to his – their, really – room, and Keith lets him, since it’s still better than ending up in the infirmary again. He still thinks Shiro’s overdoing it with his insistence that Keith lie down, but when Shiro pulls him onto the mattress, he goes more-or-less willingly, figuring it’s not really worth a fight.
Besides, he is comfortable when Shiro wraps his arms around him and pulls him close. It’s nice. And maybe he is kind of tired. It’s been a long day, and with Shiro’s warm presence at his back, he can almost forget about what a fucked-up mess it was.
“You’ll feel better when you wake up,” Shiro murmurs, like he could tell that Keith was starting to give in and thought he needed a push. He can’t say okay or fine, you win, so he grabs Shiro’s hand and squeezes it instead. Shiro squeezes back, and Keith lets his eyes fall shut.