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Chapter One

Coran waited and watched as the Voltron Force put their Lions to bed. A few minutes later, they entered the Castle Control and surrounded him, dressed in their civilian clothes.

"Is everything still standing?" Lance asked.

"Yes," Coran replied. "That was quite a battle."

"It's so much worse when you're in it," Keith muttered. He looked exhausted.

Princess Allura glanced quickly at him and caught the look on his face. No one else seemed to notice. A bitter comment was not something that they normally heard, especially from the valiant Keith.

"Coran," she said. "Is there anything left for us to do today?"

"Nothing unless we have an emergency, Princess," her advisor answered.

"Oh good," Pidge said. He turned to the tall, muscular man next to him. "C'mon, Hunk. Let's finish our game."

"What are you playing?" Lance asked.

"Fantasy Island," Pidge replied. "Wanna play? It's about..."

The three walked out of the room as Pidge explained the game. Keith came up to Coran's chair and rested a hand on the back.

"Do you want me to take over, Coran?" he asked. "You've been sitting here since morning."

"And you've been fighting since morning," Allura interjected before Coran could answer. "Get some rest, Keith." She began propelling him towards the door.

"But I'm on a roll," he argued with a tired half smile.

Allura smiled gently back. "You're always on a roll. Now go. Consider it an order if you like."

His smile broadened and he left. Coran swiveled in his chair to face her, but Allura's thoughts seemed far, far away and she didn't look at him.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

"Huh?" She refocused on him. "Oh, no. Everything is fine."

"Then go, Princess. I'll sound the alarm if there's trouble."


She turned on her heel and left the room.

Keith made his way through the royal gardens. The moon bathed it with silver light, giving it a very serene and relaxing atmosphere. Which Keith knew he needed, as he did after every battle. He needed a little time to himself, to mend his soul as he thought of the decisions he'd made that day and stop himself from wondering if he made the right ones. He forced back the rise of bile in his throat when he thought about what would happen if he gave the wrong order and destroyed much more than the enemy. Especially when innocent lives were at stake.

It was getting to be that everyday he would just wish that he was some place where he could just be alone. In the beginning all he saw was duty and the determination of being a good commander. Now he saw the perils of command. Wearily, he laid down on a stone bench on the edge of the path running through the gardens and covered his eyes with one arm.

It was like this did Allura find him an hour later. She knew he came to the gardens after every battle. Being the Princess of a kingdom, she knew what he was feeling as he went over the day in his mind and wondered if he could have done something better. She knew how it felt to feel as if the world--and everyone in it--was pushing in on you and you wanted to run away.

She leaned against the castle wall and watched him silently. Her friend and leaderůsometimes more. In all the time she'd known him, almost two years, he never told a soul what he was feeling and thinking. He carried everything on his shoulders, expecting no help and no sympathy.

It's an admirable trait, she reflected. Just not a healthy one.

Allura went back inside and ran into Lance. He grinned at her.

"What's up, Princess?"

"Nothing. Just thinking. Weren't you playing with Pidge and Hunk?"

"Yeah. I just wanted to ask you and Keith if you wanted to join us."

Actually, I was planning to turn in early," she admitted. "You can try Keith, though. He looks like he might need some laughs."

"Is he still out there?"

"Yes. He's asleep." She pursed her lips thoughtfully. "On second thought, you should probably give him some more time to himself. I'm sure he'll seek you out if he wants to join in."

Lance looked in the direction of the garden.

"I think we all need a vacation."

"We do. Unfortunately, we can't stop Zarkon from attacking Arus while we're out having fun."

"What if it's just for a day and not very far? We can take the Lions with us in case something happens. We can go to a beach or something."

"You know, you might be on to something," she said thoughtfully. "But, why not just swim in the lake?" she said, referring to the waters surrounding the castle.

"Because then we'd be close to Nanny and Coran. I said vacation and I meant vacation."

"I see," she said, grinning. "You've thought this out well."

Lance grinned back. "Anything for the sake of relaxation."

"We do need some. I'll talk to Coran tomorrow."

"Early the next day, Keith, Lance, Pidge, and Hunk entered the command room to find Allura in a pair of shorts, a light shirt and sandals. A large picnic basket, a beach umbrella, and a blanket were at her feet.

"What's going on?" Keith asked, his black brows knitting together.

Next to him, Lance shot a fist in the air.

"YES!" he exclaimed. "You did it, Princess!"

Pidge and Hunk joined in the celebration, dancing and shouting. Keith crossed his arms and looked pointedly at Allura.

"Did what?" he demanded.

"We're going to the beach," she replied, matter-of-factly. "Get your things. We're leaving in a few minutes."

"What about Zarkon?" Keith said.

"He can't come," she said cheekily.

Hunk guffawed. "Good one."

Keith was about to say something else, but Allura beat him to it.

"We're taking the Lions with us, so don't worry. Coran will call if anything is wrong."

Keith's mouth worked as he went over everything in his head. The others waited patiently for him to warm to the idea. He felt something skitter up his arm and he turned his head to see a blue mouse on his shoulder.

"Hello there, Little Friend," he greeted.

The mouse started waving its tiny arms around and chittering. Keith wasn't as good at understanding him as Allura and Pidge, but he got the gist of it. Lance pinned him with a goofy smile and wide eyes.

"C'mon, Commander," he said with a teasing emphasis on Commander. "We'll have the Lions with us. Everything will be just fine. Listen to Chitter here."

The mouse nodded happily.

They watched Keith's face closely until he finally gave a reluctant grin.

"Alright, let's go to the beach."

They cheered and left to get their things. In a few minutes, the Lions were loaded and started up. Coran watched them leave.

"Vat haf you done!" Nanny screamed, her accent thickening. "Vy did you let de Princess go out alone wid dose scoundrels!"

"She'll be fine, Nanny," Coran assured her. "If one of them tried something, which I doubt, the others would surely protect her. Haven't you learned that they are trustworthy?"

"No," was the stout reply. "Especially dat Keith. Dere's sometink about him dat I do not like."

"Of all the boys, he is the most trustworthy," Coran pointed out. "He'll make sure that the Princess acts properly."

Nanny eyed him doubtfully. "Dere iz a feeling a haf about him. Mark my words, Coran. That boy will bring us trouble."

Coran waved his hand dismissively and turned back to his readings. "The day Keith brings trouble is the day Lotor captures Arus."

To Chapter Two
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