Keith

My name is Keith Kogane. I am part Galran, part Altean, and training with the Stakes of Marmora to kill any and all vampires that may cross my path.

See, I was bred to be an elite hunter. My mother was in high command, second only to our leader, Kolivan. Somehow, she got alone with her second-in-command in her sub-clan… while she was in heat. So here I am, born. My father stayed with us until he was sure that my mother could take care of me. Then she left, once I started training to be a hunter, a phoeb or two ago.

Now, I live with Shiro. He's my elder half-brother on my father's side. More often than not, I get dragged along on his ridiculous endeavors. Most of the time, I'd rather not participate. Like this, for example.

We're at a nightclub. And I'm very, very stressed about the whole thing. Galrans and Alteans alike have approached me, both male and female. Shiro ditched me because some guy led him astray, and now I'm alone in this huge crowd. It's stuffy, and hot, and humid, and I-

All of these people could be vampires. Shiro's probably making out with a vampire now. He's definitely a goner, if that vampire gets his teeth in him. I have to get out of here, now.

I push my way through the Alteans, Galrans, and whatever's in between, trying to get to the exit, trying to get out of here. If they don't move now, I'll stake them, I won't hesitate, I'll-

Someone grabs me by my ears. "Where are you off to, darling?"

As I stated, I don't hesitate. I whip around, out of his grip, and I pull a stake from my belt. I slash his wrist, and people quickly separate for me.

I push through the doorway, and I run right into someone. I hold up my stake threateningly, and he springs out of the way. I would've staked him, if he didn't. Maybe he's afraid of the stakes. Or… maybe he's concerned because I have a bloody weapon that I'm pointing right at him.

I hold his dark blue gaze for a moment, before I fall forward, ready to collapse and get a concussion, because I'm dizzy and lightheaded and-

The boy I almost killed rushes forward, gathering me in his arms before I hit the ground. Which is more than I deserve. A few passersby cast suspicious looks at the stake ands move faster.

"Vampires," I choke out, trying to claw my way to them.

"Easy…," the boy murmurs, moving forward so I can rest against the exterior wall. "There's a bloody weapon, why do you think they're scared?"

"I'll fight them anyway," I hiss.

He cracks a small smile, slowly inching away. "Are you okay?"

"Define okay," I utter.

"Not dead or dying?"

I look at him, he's clearly Altean. Those cerulean markings under his eyes are a dead giveaway. Besides that, he's tall and lanky, with light brown skin and brown hair framing his friendly face.

"I guess," I murmur, glaring down at my feet.

"Well, you burst from the nightclub with a bloody weapon. There's likely a bounty on your head, now. So… maybe you're not okay?"

I flick my ear in his direction. "Watch it…."

The door opens obnoxiously loud, and I glance over to see Shiro exiting. "What the quiznak was that?"

I drop my gaze, trying to avoid eye contact. My ears pin back. "He attacked me."

"So you severed veins?!"

The Altean boy shifts uncomfortably. "What happened?"

I grimace. "Someone caught me by my ears when I was trying to escape, one thing led to another and now his wrists are slashed."

"Are you mentally ill, Keith?" Shiro demands. "Because it seems like-"

"I-" I start, "no, no, I'm just, I-"

Then this stupid Altean has to chime in. "I think he might be overly stressed. He was very suspicious of everyone, calling them vampires and-"

"We're going home," Shiro announces. "Say goodbye to your friend."

He turns around and starts trotting down the sidewalk, down the road, where our house will be waiting.

I begin to follow, but this Altean manages to catch a hold of my wrist. "You didn't say goodbye to me. And you left your stake."

I blink at him, utterly confused. "I'm not- you're not my friend."

He laughs. "I'm Lance."

I don't respond to that, brushing past him with a soft, "Thanks," as I pick up the stake still laying on the ground.

"Meet me here, tomorrow. Eight?"

I dip my head in agreement, a response, and I sprint to catch up with Shiro.

Lance

I come home a grinning mess. I must look disastrous, with this dumb smile still planted on my face.

Allura, my sister, shifts in her chair to look at me when our door opens. "Woah, who'd you meet?"

I'm still beaming when I slide onto the couch. "A small, cute hunter named Keith."

With a sigh of, likely, disappointment, my sister points out, "Don't you have to marry Lotor?"

I point at her, with a chirrup of, "Yep!"

She grimaces. "And isn't being in a relationship with a hunter dangerous?"

"Maybe… but he's cute, so it's okay. Besides, he's in training. He can't tell. If he could, he'd've killed me immediately. He even staked someone he wasn't even sure of, just because he… sexually… assau- bad example."

Allura nods, with a small, "Hm…. And Dad?"

I stare at her, my gaze consciously cold and demanding. "Dad can't know. Do you know what he would do to u- Keith?"

"Just saying. He somehow always finds out."

Oh- my dad's King Alfor, of the Altean subspecies of vampires. Emperor Zarkon rules over the others. Allura's going to take over the throne when our father dies, so I'm here, the disposable, "What if?" child. Why? Allura was born to Alfor and a noble. I, on the other hand, was born because of a freak accident between of one of the alchemists and Alfor. Allura's still older, though it may be by a miniscule amount. Two- two decaphoebs isn't that much, right?

"And if your Keith finds out about you…?" Allura continues.

I wince. "If that happens, I may just turn him. It'd be my only choice."

Allura literally jumps up to hit my shoulder. "No. Absolutely not. Unless he consents, don't you dare."

"Okay, first of all, ow, and second of all, why do you talk about it like it's sex?"

My sister sits back down, exhaling through her mouth in a deep, frustrated sigh. "Having sex with a maiden goddess."

"We'd both be kill- oh…. She'd kill me, and probably herself for being tainted."

"Don't be like that. But, anyway, it's accurate. Your Keith probably lives by the premise that all vampires should be dead. Should he become a vampire, Lance…."

"I know, I know. Don't turn him unless he can clearly say yes, fully aware of the situation that's going on. Right?"

Allura finally stands up, patting my shoulder. "Don't screw up, just like you do with everything else. Do the right thing. I want you to be happy, and if having an adulterous relationship with this hunter makes you happy, then so be it."

She walks out of the main room, probably to go to sleep, knowing that I'm safe, for now, at least.

Something stays in my head, and I call out, "It's not adulterous… yet! And I don't even mess up that often!"

Guess what special fellow wakes up at seven forty-five? Tot… totally not me….

NO, NO, NO.

I frantically manage to get out of my gross sleepwear and into something moderately presentable, with my bomber jacket thrown over my arms to tie it all together. Then, my teeth. I don't even clean them, just a swish of water and chemicals and alcohol so my breath smells nice. For reasons other than Keith, of course…. Oh quiznak, seven doboshes, gone. I sprint out the door, trying not to lose time, because, hey, I can't get that back.

I live like, what? Twenty… twenty doboshes away. If I go as fast as possible, I might be able to make it in fifteen. Maybe….

I get there in ten. Good enough, me. Keith is there, and his back is turned, and he's about to leave, so I shout out, "Keith, I'm here!"

He immediately whips around to face me, his ears pricked towards me. He smiles, and my heart melts, right then and there. I sprint the extra distance.

"Hi," I greet, wheezing.

"Hello," Keith says, simply.

"You're impatient," I note. "Two doboshes?"

"Well," he points out, "you arranged it, so I assumed you'd have been here earlier, so…," he shrugs. "It's alright now, anyway, I guess."

I hang my head, looking down. "Don't make me feel stupid."

He laughs, and I wish there was a way for me to hear that one, happy noise for the rest of my life. Then an awful thought arises in the back of my mind- it's still early, and not many people are out. How many people would notice if I grabbed Keith by the-

Yeah, emphasis on the awful moment part.

"So…," Keith says out of nowhere, earning a muted gasp of surprise from me. "What do you want to do?"

I rock on the balls of my feet. "I… don't know."

Keith rolls his eyes. "Wow," he says with a small chuckle.

Okay, he needs to stop laughing, or I'm going to lose my mind and actually go through with that awful thought. Right now, right here.

I glance down at his belt, and I can only see one stake, a small one, a nonviolent one. Okay, maybe he's a little too trusting. I guess he likes me?

I'm about to say something, to suggest something, when someone, a female, roars out, "Hey!"

Keith and I glance at each other before looking at the huge Galran in front of us. Not only is she tall, really, really tall, but she's muscular and there's some excess fat and-oh my gosh-her paws are bigger than my head.

She crosses the street, and I panic, but Keith keeps his cool, even when she keeps her eyes on him. "My son was staked here," she snarls, "at this nightclub, last night. On his wrist."

I catch a glimpse of amber eyes, and holy. Quiznak. I know her. And she knows me, and she knows that I'm a vampire, and she is, and she knows that Keith's a hunter, and I have to get out of here-

"So?" Keith says coolly.

He knows it's him, he knows that she's onto him.

"He was staked by you," the Galran snaps, her impatience clearly gone and dead. "An Altean with big, fluffy Galra ears and stupid blotches of purple fur."

"If they're so stupid, why did he-"

I throw my hand over Keith's mouth. "Shh… shut up."

The Galran takes a step forward, and I flinch, but I stand my ground. "My son is dead."

Keith's ears fly back, and the color drains from his face. He yanks his face away from him, and stutters, "I, I, um… I, right. I… killed him. I swear, I, I didn't intend for something so-"

The Galran bares her teeth, and a few passersby cross the street, further down, to avoid the drama. I pull the stake from Keith's belt, and he stares at me, bewildered. I give my head a simple flick , indicating for him to go around the corner.

She lunges, and Keith runs. I manage to slip away at the last moment, dodging a likely painful scratch.

"Lance McClain…," she muses. "You won't stake me. You're too afraid of Alfor."

I narrow my eyes. "You tried to hurt Keith."

The Galran laughs, an intimidating sound. "Eye for an eye, McClain." She gets closer. "He'll stop loving you. Especially when I tell him what you a-"

I drive the stake right through her chest. Scared, scared, scared. The Galran crumples to the ground, and once she stops… twitching, I tentatively push her over with my foot. I hear children screaming, and some people are crying. The stake is too deep, I can't get it, I can't get it without getting my hands bloody…er than they already are.

Terrified, not only of myself, but of the people and what they might do to me, I sprint, down the street, to Keith's corner.

"Lance!" he greets with a gasp. "What took you so long?"

I need to tell him the truth, that I, that I'm, I'm a…. No, no, no. It'll be okay. He'll find out in his own time, and we can be happy, together, we, we can….

Without thinking it through, I grab him by his shoulders, yanking him into a rough kiss.