Crime and Punishment
Crime and Punishment

Allura threw herself out of bed. Keith had called an early meeting of the team and she was late. She pulled back her hair as she ran down the hall.

She rounded a corner and suddenly rammed into a solid object, throwing her to the floor.

"Sorry," Hunk mumbled, offering her a hand up.

She took it, smiling. "Glad I'm not the only one late."

"Yeah," Hunk groaned, "now we get punished together."

Allura frowned, not liking that prospect too much, especially this early in the morning. They arrived at the Control Room and Allura hastily punched in the access codes. To her dismay, the rest of the team was assembled and appeared to be waiting.

Keith nodded to Allura and Hunk, briefly acknowledging their arrival. "Good, now that we are all present, we can get down to business. Allura, Hunk, we will talk after the meeting."

Allura and Hunk groaned quietly, while Lance and Pidge grinned openly.

Coran cleared his throat, gathering everyone's attention. "There is a situation developing in a nearby sector of the galaxy," he announced, pulling up various scans and images on the large monitors. "While we don't know what the phenomenon actually is, we can't ruled out that this may be a sign of Doom activity."

"So, what do you propose we do, Coran?" Lance asked bluntly.

"We go and investigate it," Keith answered.

"And leave Arus unguarded?" Allura demanded, looking from Keith to Coran. "If this 'situation' is from Doom, this could be its purpose."

"The castle defenses could suffice for a reasonable period of time without Voltron," Coran answered.

"Galaxy Garrison is sending some back-up," Keith said, calming the princess. "They are also sending a specialist to help with our investigation."

"Hey," Pidge protested.

"No offense, Pidge," Keith explained, "but Dr. Hamilton has been exploring certain types of space phenomenon and is considered an expert. We may need her help."

"As I may need yours, Pidge," a voice answered from the door of the control room. "Forgive me, Captain, for my unannounced entry but the guards were kind enough to point the way out to me."

She crossed the room to Keith and offered to shake his hand. "Catherine Hamilton of Galaxy Garrison, Space Exploratory Research Division."

"Dr. Hamilton," Keith said, shaking her hand, "meet the Voltron force. "Pidge, science officer and pilot of the green lion. Lance, second in command and pilot of the red lion. Hunk, mechanical engineering officer and pilot of the orange lion. Princess Allura, pilot of the blue lion and heir to the throne of Arus."

Each member nodded at the sergeant at their introduction. Dr. Hamilton studied each member. She apparently liked what she saw. She turned her attention back to Keith, handing him a manila folder which had been tucked under her arm.

"Captain, this is from the Galaxy Garrison, explaining my credentials and other pertinent information on this mission. I am fairly proficient in martial arts, but I'm not a pilot."

"Fair enough," Keith commented, his attention mostly on the contents of the folder. Remembering that the meeting still had to resume, he reluctantly closed the folder.

"I think it's fair that we allow Dr. Hamilton to settle in before we go into any in-depth discussions. We will reconvene here after dinner." Keith looked at Coran, who nodded his consent.

"Lance, please escort the doctor to her room."

Lance nodded to Keith and walked over to Catherine. "After you, ma'am."

"Thank you," she said, and the two left the room.

Keith turned and studied Hunk and Allura thoughtfully.

'What is he planning to do to us?' Allura wondered.

"Allura, Hunk, follow me."

Without another word, he exited the room. Hunk looked at Allura, shrugged, and left. Allura wasn't far behind him.

Keith led them to the training room, which held mats for sparring and a track. Leading them past the mats, Keith stopped at the track and turned to face them. He was in full "captain mode."

"This is your punishment for being late this morning," Keith explained, gesturing to the track. "Hunk, you have ten laps. Allura, you have twelve."

"What?" Allura cried.

"Additional strengthening exercises for your leg, Princess," he replied blandly. "Get to work, guys."

Hunk and Allura obediently walked to the starting line of the indoor track. The two fell in step together as they jogged. Keith watched them closely from the doorway.

"Don't be too mad at Keith, Princess," Hunk said, noticing the contortion of fury on Allura's face. "He's only doing what he thinks is fair."

"Fair! Easy for you to say!"

"Hunk! Allura! Start running. Now."

Muttering under her breath and plotting various methods of revenge, Allura began her laps.

* * * * *

Allura surprised herself by surviving through lunch. Her legs felt like lead. She hoped she was discreet as she reached under the table and rubbed the weaker left leg, which was protesting the new strain painfully.

She could feel Keith's eyes on her but she refused to look directly at him. Across the table, Hunk flinched as he reached for another roll. The team's strong man was obviously in pain, too. But like Allura, he did not openly complain.

Once the meal was finally finished, Allura limped down the halls of the castle to the rec room. Thanking her good fortune, the room was empty. Groaning, she gently sat down on the couch. Slowly, she forgot about the pain and drifted into a light sleep.

* * * * *

Keith entered the room and stopped, surprised to find a sleeping Allura alone in the rec room. Deciding not to wake her and force a confrontation, he turned to leave.

"The captain afraid to stay?" Allura called, struggling to sit up straighter.

"I thought you were asleep," he said, denying the allegation. He crossed the room and crouched in front of the princess. Without looking at her, he took off her shoes and began to massage her feet.

Allura settled back, closing her eyes in pleasure. Keith's magic hands slowed moved toward her calf.

"This almost makes me forgive you," she said, when he thought she was asleep again.

Keith chuckled, his hands still coaxing away the soreness. "What's stopping you?"

"Because I then remember that you caused all this pain."

"I did it for your own good, Allura."

"That's what I keep telling myself."

Keith shook his head, continuing the massage. However, when he got to the spot of the fracture, Allura yelped. He looked up at her.

"Hurt that bad?" Keith asked, watching her reaction.

"You just caught me by surprise," she said quickly.

His stern look showed that he didn't buy it. Keith quickly had her shoes on again. He rose to his feet and reached to help her up. "Come on, Princess, we're going to see Dr. Gorma."

"Not again, Keith. It's not hurting that bad."

"We're not taking any chances," he said, his tone cutting off any more discussion. "That leg is getting checked out now."

* * * * *

Allura's leg was fine, Dr. Gorma assured them. Though a few days of rest probably wouldn't hurt, he added. Just let the soreness work itself out.

Keith scolded himself the whole time he escorted Allura to her room. They were lucky that no damage was done to the newly healed bone. Thankfully Dr. Gorma was satisfied with the bone density.

"I told you I was okay, Keith," she said for the third time. "Maybe I should call you Captain Worry Wart," she added, trying to lighten Keith's dark mood. "Of course, I'll shorten it to Captain Wart."

"Not funny, Princess." They arrived at her door. Usually Keith stopped there but he walked her inside today, showing how concerned he was.

"Keith, I'm fine," she protested, as he made her sit down on the bed.

"Yeah, no thanks to me," he muttered.

Allura grabbed his hand and pulled him down to sit beside her. She turned his face to her, meeting him eye to eye. "Keith, I am fine," she stated, placing emphasis on each word. "Sometimes I am tougher than what you give me credit for."

"It's not that I think you are weak, Allura," he said, still holding her stare. "But I could have injured your leg further with my extra punishment. It's not something to take lightly."

"You are a good man, Keith, and the leg is fine. So, please, stop beating yourself up," she said.

"Well, since I'm here," Keith began, "I'll run you some bath water to soak in."

"Keith, I'm not completely helpless."

"I know, I know," Keith said quickly. "Just let me do this, okay?"

"Fine," the princess relented, stretching herself across the bed as the captain headed into the adjoining bathroom. She could soon hear water running inside.

The punishment had been fair, Allura conceded. The additional laps for strengthening had been prescribed by Dr. Gorma. Has their new relationship affected Keith's judgement concerning her and her place on the team?

The idea worried Allura. The fact that Keith felt so guilty over her sore muscles, while Hunk suffered as well, bothered her. Keith needed to treat as much as a team member as the others as he had before, or the strength of the team could be weakened.

Keith returned from the bathroom. "Your bath is ready."

"Keith, we need to talk."

"Okay," he replied, sitting beside her.

"We can't let our feelings for each other jeopardize the team."

He looked at her in puzzlement. "Allura, what are you talking about?"

"I realize that we've placed ourselves in a delicate position, Keith," she said. "I know know why you fought so hard to hide your feelings for me. It's made everything so complicated."

He felt a chill run down his spine. "What are you saying?"

"You have to treat me like the guys when it comes to stuff concerning the team. When I'm out of line, you have to be strong enough to deal with the situation as you would with the others."

"Is that what this about?"

Allura nodded. "I appreciate that you're here pampering me. I'm loving every minute of it. But this is a punishment that Hunk and I deserved. I need the pain to remind me that I can't get lazy, even with the seemingly small rules. When all of this is over, when we can finally relax some, we can be carefree. But now while Voltron is still needed, the team and I need our captain to keep us focus."

"You're right," Keith said, stroking her hand with his thumb. "Though I hate to admit it."

The princess grinned.

"Just do me a favor," he asked. "When I become a soft-hearted fool in love again, repeat this little talk for me."

"You have yourself a deal," she said, sealing it with a kiss.

Keith reluctantly pulled away and rose to his feet. "I'd better check on some things. I'll see you at dinner. Enjoy your bath."

"Bye," she called as the door closed. She linger on the bed for a few minutes, before forcing her protesting body into the bathroom and into the warm tub.