Word Count: 3108 (Fidipù)
Scritta per il COWT 8, Missione 1 Voce
Summary: Keith has done many things for Voltron. Honestly he hadn't thought that singing a duet with Shiro would have made the list.
Building the coalition is not something that happens in a day. Even with the force of Voltron at their side and showing the galaxy that there is, in fact, a way to fight the Empire, many planets are still scared and unsure about the fight.
Most of the socieities that have been enslaved by the Empire have grown tired and scared, instead of angry and rebellious, and it's something that Keith will never understand.
He knows he's not the norm when it comes to an appropriate response and human emotions, but at the same to him it feels impossible that someone wouldn't want to strike a blade in the heart of the empire.
But the truth is that Keith has never been good at diplomatic stuff. It had never been required in his carreer choise and it had been one of the reasons why he had liked it. Still, he's now the Paladin of the Black Lion and he has some duties to attend - or at least so Shiro and Allura instist.
He would much prefer to help Hunk and Lance in their escort mission, or accompany Pidge in her search for her brother, or partecipate in some training with the Blades. Instead he's forced to travel to one of the most recent liberated planet, home to some pacifist aliens who are now too afraid to really join the coalition.
Keith guesses it could be worse. It could be forced to do all this without Shiro by his side.
"You know you look like you just swallowed a whole lemon, right?" Shiro asks him, with a little smirk.
Keith throws him a quick glance, not really annoyed at the friendly rib. Shiro knows how much he hates this kind of missions, and if he wants to enjoy his suffering a little, Keith thinks it could be worse.
Ever since they have found him again, Shiro has been laughing even less - which, considering, is a feat. So any moment of hilarity he sees in the other it's a moment he appreciates and holds close.
"I just don't understand why I have to be here," Keith admits, candidly, "You and Allura are better than me with this. She has a Lion, you're the commander of the coalition, I'm just..."
"The paladin of the black Lion," Shiro finishes for him, with a solemn tone. "You're the leader of Voltron, and that means something to them."
"I'm not," Keith insists, scowling at Black's commands. "I might be piloting her right now, but you're the true leader of Voltron."
They have talked about this a lot lately; so much that it almost feels like they haven't talked about anything else in weeks. Still, Keith doesn't understand Black and why she's being so stubborn. Worse yet, he can't understand why Shiro isn't trying more. It's just like he has given up without really giving it a go.
Shiro doesn't answer at Keith's words, but he just puts his hand on Keith's shoulder and leaves it there, a lingering touch.
In the end, the truth is, that it doesn't matter how many times they have to have the same conversation. Or Keith's annoyance at this mission. Everything is better than those months of searches and void hopes where Shiro's fate had been an unknown that had plagued Keith every moment of his life.
If all he has to do to make Shiro a little happy is take place in these boring diplomatic meetings, then it's a sacrifice he's more than willing to do.
Alura and Coran have briefed them about the Echofarians for an entire day. Keith hasn't understood much of their explanation like it's usual with them, but he thinks he has gotten the most relevant informations.
Echofarians believe in strenght of heart more than strenght of might, and they are notorious for being interested in only talking with the most pure and honorable members of any species.
Keith isn't sure how they determine the strenght of character of someone, if there is some kind of process or if they just pick up on it because of some kind of special power, but he hadn't been paying that much attention.
In any case they have Shiro with them, and if someone is the definition of hoborable, that was him. So really, Keith had felt himself completely justified on not really briefing himself that much on the damn aliens.
After all, as Shiro had said, he was there just to showcase the prowess of Voltron and nothing more. Shiro and Allura would do most of the talking.
When they arrive on the planet everything seems to go smoothly for a while. The Echofarians do the required "ohh" and "aaaah" when they see Blue and Black, looking impressed and awe.
They invite them to eat with them in show of peace and prosperity and even joke a little. It doesn't seem like the planet of a race that has just been freed from years of slavery and imprisonement, to be honest. It looks like a planet full of happy people.
Both Allura and Shiro have tried multiple times to introduce the argoment of the coalition, but the Echofarian's leader had stated that they would delve into the matter after the festivities, so they had been forced to be silent and watch.
Everything had been too strange, all in all, to be true.
The Echofarians were a little specie. The tallest one he had seen didn't arrive at Keith's BACINO and they were more round than anything else. They also seemed to have some of the loudest voices around.
Their voices carried across the banquet hall, but they always managed to be pleasing to the ears, never out of tune or jarring.
Keith had also noticed that they tended to break into little song in the middle of the conversation. All their little song seemed to be made up on the spot for the topic at hand and seemed to be a way to put emphasis on their point.
It was an incredibly interesting way of communication and a part of Keith wanted to see how their language sounded without the universal translation the lions provided for them automatically.
Allura and Shiro didn't seem suprised by the peculiar way this specie communicated, so Keith thinks it was just something he had missed in the middle of the explanation.
At the end of the night, even if Keith still didn't understand them and their reticence to actual fight and take revenge on the Galra, he had come to a newfound appreciation for this alien race.
They seemed to be entertainers more than anything else, and they seemed to enjoy conversation and verbal disagreement. Still, what the coalition needed wasn't just fighter, but also support of supplies and numbers.
"So," the leader of the Echofarians says, out of the blue, "we have showed you all our culture and our hoborable hearts during the night. it is your turn."
Shiro and Allura look at each other for a second before Shiro smiles, looking back at the alien, "As we were telling you, the coalition has been growing steadily but surely," Shiro starts, "and we can offer protection to those who join us with Voltron. Not that we wouldn't protect you if you didn't join, obviously, but..."
"No," the leader says, interrupting him. "I have heard your words and I understand the benefits, but we're a culture that's built on honor. We want to know if you're honorable, Voltron."
That seems to take Allura and Shiro off guard.
"If I may," Allura starts, with a smile that seems fake to Keith's face, "have we done something that makes you doubt us? I think Voltron has proven itself time and time again. We're fighting a war and we're trying our best."
The leader immediately nods. "Of course, I did not mean any offense, but that is not how we judge honor here. Is it not like this where you come from? I remember Alteans seemed to like our way of settling things."
Allura blinks and then a sad expression crosses her face. "I'm sorry. It seems maybe I was too little to remember or..."
Keith wants to comfort her, but he's not sure what he could even say to make the situation better. He knows what it means to lose a parent, but an entire race?
Hell, he had been a mess when Shiro had disappeared. He doesn't think he can give Allura any advice.
Shiro, however, puts an hand on her shoulder, before addressing the Echofarian. "We're sorry for this incomprehension. If you could tell us what we need to do..."
The Echofarian nods, immediately, with a smile. "Of course! Of course! I'm sorry, we haven't interacted with another friendly race in so long we forgot how to act, it seems." The leader looks back at one of his staff who nods quickly and run off.
"We believe that there is one thing that cannot lie and can make the truest of intention shine," the Echofarian explains, starting to sing in the middle of the sentence, "for what you have to say, will always go better if you siiiiiing."
The leader stops, making a little spin and a bow and Keith freezes in shock.
They want them to sing?
He looks startled at the other two, and he can see that both Shiro and Allura are surprised by this, looking at each other.
They have nothing ready for this, Keith is sure. He wonders how they could miss something like this in all the preparation and research.
"We..." Allura starts, looking startled. She might go into panic soon if they dont' find a solution.
"Of course," the echofarian says, with a smile, "we understand not all races have our prowess with creating songs. But a limpid and beautiful voice is the first entrace to see someone's soul, isn't it?"
The Echofarian from before comes back and he's holding what looks like a shell, but it's purple and it's pulsing.
"This is the Echomachine, it helps carry only the purest of voices," he explains, holding it out. "Sing us a song from your people with a beautigul and limpid voice and we'll know that Voltron has a strong heart. Of course we expect the two paladins to sing."
This last bit seem to make Allura look even more panicked.
Before the situation takes a turn for the worse Shiro stands up and with a smile thanks the leader of the Echofarian. "You've been extremely cordial with us, but we have nothing prepared and we need some time to get ready. We only want to give you the best experience we can. If we could have the night to get ready, it would be perfect."
It's a good idea, it would give them the time to make a plan. Possibly give up on this planet after all. But the Echofarians don't seem happy at the idea.
"You don't need to prepare anything. Just sing what's in your heart, that's how it works. We want the voice of your heart," the little alien explains, "and if you give a limpid sound, it'll prove your worth."
Allura finally stands up and takes both Shiro and Keith's arms forcefully. "I'm sorry for this, but I need to talk with my companions," she says, quickly, dragging them both away. They don't try to fight her, but for how panicked she seems to be she would probably just rise them over her head and drag them away.
When they are far enough that they are sure they can't hear them, Allura turns toward them and admits, "I can't sing. My voice sounds terrible. I tried when I was little, and I was told by everyone to stop."
Keith tries not to laugh too much, but Allura must caught his snicker because he sees they way she looks at him, furious.
"It's not funny, Keith!" Allura says, "if both of us don't know how to sing we might lose the support of this planet!"
"Keith knows how to sing," Shiro says, immediately, and Keith turns to him, betrayed.
"No I don't," he says immediately, but Shiro just looks at him amused.
The truth is that Keith does know how to sing, a little habit he had taken when he was little and he sun in the desert at night with his father, but he had never enjoyed singing to other people. Or alone.
"You do. I remember once I caught you singing in the roof. You were really good," Shiro says, with a little shrug. He doesn't even look sorry when Keith just gives him a completely betrayed espression.
"Great!" Allura trills with a smile, "this might be salvageable after all!"
"No!" Keith disagrees immediately, "I'm not going to sing."
Allura's face turns annoyed and she looks at him, with a scowl. "Keith, you're the only one here who can sing, we need you to do it."
"I'm not the only one," Keith immediately replies, pointing to Shiro, "he can sing as well."
Shiro looks startled by Keith's throwing him under the bus, but he had heart Shiro sing multiple times. Unlike Keith, Shiro used to sing under his breah a lot. Mumbles to help him concentrate or just little fun songs.
He hadn't sung lately, but that diddn't mean he couldn't. Keith had enjoyed hearing him sing before, because a Shiro who sung was a Shiro who was happy.
The other shrugs, looking at Allura. "I'm not bad, but they don't want me to sing, they want Voltron."
"You're a part of Voltron just as much as us," Keith repeats, pointing at him and Allura. Out of the blue he feels even angrier. How dare they? "If I have to sing, then you have to sing as well."
Before Shiro can protest, Allura claps her hands and looks at them with a smile.
"It seems we have decided then!" She says, "do you have a song ready?"
Well. That might be a problem. Keith doesn't think he remembers a single song right now but the little lullabies he used to sing with his father, and he's not sure Shiro can know them.
He looks at the other man and he sees that Shiro is a little red, clearly embarassed about something.
"Uhm, I... there's only one song I know all the words to," Shiro mumbles, and Keith immediately remembers what Shiro had been humming at the Garrison and turns red as well.
Love songs, especially as cheesy and stupid as "You make my heart go boom", a summer hit that had burned fast and bright, are not Keith's type of song, but he realizes, with shock, that he does remember the words. If only because he had listened to every single time Shiro had sung it, trying to memorize Shiro's voice.
"I know it," Keith says, quickly. Maybe if he doesn't make a big deal out of it they can just get this over with.
Shiro turns towards him, surprised. And Keith huffs, avoiding his gaze.
"Perfect," Allura says again, with a smile, "I'm going to convince the Echofarian. You two get ready!" she tells them, walking away towards the aliens.
Keith and Shiro stare at each other, at loss of words for what they just agreed to do. At least until Shiro asks, with the start of a smile, "You know the words for you make my heart go boom?"
"You do too," Keith replies immediately, but Shiro just smiles harder.
"Yeah, but according to you, I'm a dork," the other reminds him, and Keith clearly remembers having said to Shiro that he was a complete dork for liking that song. Dammit.
He doesn't have anything to say to that, but Shiro's carefree laugh makes Keith think that maybe he can survive the humiliation for that.
When they are called back to the others, Allura gives them the shell and smiles encouragely. The Echofarians look at them with rapt interest and they clearly can't wait to hear their voices.
Keith looks into Shiro's eyes, realizing that he's going to sing a love duet with the one man he's had a crush on since the second year of Accademy and that this might be very awkward for everyone involved.
But then Shiro smiles at him, a soft expression, and Keith is unable to do anything but sing keeping his eyes peeled to Shiro's face.
In the end the Echofarians are enthralled by their song and they accept to join the coalition immediately.
Allura is estatic and Shiro is smiling beside her, even if he's looking directly at Keith.
They don't say much while they travel back to the castle and when they arrive Keith feels like he and Shiro haven't stopped looking at each other for more than twenty seconds.
His skin is prickling with some kind of energy, but when they leave Black they see Allura talking with Lance and Hunk, who have returned from their mission.
They won't have a moment to talk now, but maybe it's better this way. Keith doesn't know what could happen if they talked now, and a part of him is scared of it.
He looks back at Shiro, who is looking back at him, and they smile. There's something there, they both know it, but maybe it's not that bad to have it left unsaid for a little bit more.
They are interrumpted by Lance's screamd of "What?" and when they turn towards the others they see Hunk evidently trying to stop laughing.
Lance turns towards them and smirks. "So. I hear you sung an interesting duet," Lance says, and Keith feels his cheek redden.
Of course he had forgot that Lance and Hunk would both know what that song was.
"I gotta say, mullet," Lance says, getting closer, "I didn't make you the 'Boom Boom' type."
It's obvious Lance finds this incredibly funny, and Keith feels the familiar anger boil in him.
He knows that Lance doesn't really mean anything bad by it, but it feels like something precious he doesn't want mocked, not yet.
What he doesn't expect is Shiro to smile and say, calmly, "Don't worry Lance, I heard you in the communal showers. We all know that you prefer Boy Bands."
Lance opens his mouth a second and then turns a little red, but he still tries to play it cool. "The Hot Day are an incredibly good band and I stand by them," but it's enough to make the conversation change focus completely.
Keith looks back at Shiro and, making sure no one sees him, he mouths "You make my heart go boom".